Smoky Firehouse Chili

I’ve been making chili for years, trying to improve my recipe every year, in hopes that my chili recipe might one day be on par with some of those amazing award wining chili recipes people make at competitions. I’ve tried adding different beans, adding various vegetables, different meats and a ton of different flavor combinations. And while I’ve had some wonderful results, this is the basic recipe I keep going back to. It’s simple  and the spices can be easily adjusted to suite your tastes.

Yesterday on Valentine’s Day, Johnsonville  asked me to make my best chili recipe and share it with the fireman at my local firehouse as a way to say thank you for their service as part of the Johnsonville Italian Chili Challenge. So I decided to make my old stand-by recipe, but with the addition of Johnsonville  sausage. It’s not something I would ordinarily of done, but now after tasting how wonderful the sausage made my chili taste, I’ll never make chili again without sausage.

It was pouring rain and thankfully nice and cool here in Florida yesterday when I delivered this hot chili. My son got to check out the firetrucks, and even sit in the driver’s seat and pretend he was a firefighter too! We didn’t stay long, because we didn’t want to interfere with their work, the firehouse is a busy place!

This recipe easily serves 12. Divide all ingredients by half to serve 6.

Adjust spices according to tastes. Add cayenne pepper for additional heat.

Yield: Serves 4

Smoky Firehouse Chili

5.00 stars (1 reviews)


2 lbs Mild Johnsonville Italian Sausage (ground sausage or links, casings removed)
3 lbs 80/20 ground chuck
1 1/2 large onions, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons cumin
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
1 (12 oz can) tomato paste
2 (15 oz cans) seasoned diced tomato sauce for chili
2 (24 oz cans) chili beans in mild sauce
2 (12 oz) dark beers (or beef stock)


Heat large soup pot over medium heat. Add sausage, ground chuck, onion, bell peppers, celery and garlic. Brown meat and continue to cook until most of water evaporates and vegetables are very tender. Drain excess fat if desired.

Add salt, cumin, paprika, and chili powders. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, incorporating well. Add diced tomatoes, chili beans and beer. Bring to a boil and cook over very low heat for 2 - 3 hours, covered. You can also transfer to a slow cooker and turn to low for 4 - 6 hours.

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*Nutritional Information is not guaranteed for 100% accuracy.

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This post sponsored by Johnsonville.