Recipe: Kevin’s Best Chili

I’ve been cooking a version of this chili since I was in my early twenties and frankly not much has changed in the recipe. People spend too much time arguing about cubed beef vs. ground beef, beans vs. no beans. I say use it all.

Kevin’s Caveat – I rarely use recipes. Most of what I cook is either an adaptation based on other recipes and/or something I dreamt up and decided to give a whirl. That’s great for me. Not so good for my friends who often ask me how to cook something I recently posted on my Instagram story. So this is my best shot at explaining how to make this dish.


  • Cooking oil of choice
  • 1 lb. ground chuck (80/20 for best flavor)
  • 1 lb. cubed chuck / stew meat (also 80/20)
  • 1 large yellow onion – diced
  • 5 garlic cloves – diced (more is fine if you’re a garlic lover like me)
  • 4 cups Spicy V8 vegetable juice (trust me)
  • 1 16 oz. can chili beans
  • 1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. salt (more to taste)


  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Macaroni & Cheese


  1. In a large Dutch oven or sturdy cooking pot heat approx. 2 Tbsp. oil on Medium High/High heat until it shimmers. Brown the ground beef. Set aside when browned.
  2. Repeat the above with the cubed beef. Set beef aside.
  3. Carefully pour off any liquids from pot, return pot to stovetop, reduce heat to Medium and add more oil.
  4. Sauté onions until soft and translucent – about five minutes.
  5. Add garlic and sauté for one minute.
  6. Add browned ground beef and cubed beef to pot and mix with onions and garlic.
  7. Carefully add V8 juice, beans, and diced tomatoes to pot and bring to simmer.
  8. Add unsweetened cocoa, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir together and bring to simmer.
  9. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and let simmer (not boil) for 2 hours. (monitor heat and make sure contents of pot don’t boil over).
  10. Periodically taste and add salt or spices as needed to taste.
  11. Serve with optional ingredients above or any favorites you might have.

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