Award Winning Three Bean Chili

Lots of spices come together to make this Award Winning Three Bean Chili that my daughter Emily entered into a contest and won! With lots of flavor and three different beans; it’s delicious!

Three Bean Chili in a Blue Crock with Sour Cream and Lime Garnish  

I could not have managed making this Award Winning Three Bean Chili if not for my  oldest daughter Emily; she has been a Godsend the past few weeks; working beside me almost nonstop in preparations for both selling my home and moving.

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We started with cleaning out storage areas and closets and sometimes I left the keep/don’t keep decisions up to her. Otherwise I might still consider doing cross-stitch even if I haven’t made anything in the past two decades!

But it also means she has discovered some treasures that she and her sister thought they didn’t want until they saw them. She now has a charming old kids school desk that I refinished a bazillion years ago and will also be inheriting my grandmother Bathe’s china hutch that I’ve had since I was 18 years old.

How fitting that I had also packed away my first set of china I got when I was married; it will be filling that hutch! This is all good. So…what’s that got to do with chili?

Well, Emily’s time has been so dedicated to my needs that she has been stretched pretty thin for her own so when she was pressed for time to bring to bring chili to her company’s annual Chili Cook-Off this past week, I offered to be her sous chef.

Preparing it here also meant using up some more of the pantry staples I don’t want to either store or move so it was a definite win-win for both of us. It’s a great source of pride to see how innovative Emily is with both her cooking and eating (she loves Sushi and I only love those fried spider roll thingys!).

My obsession with wanting every single spice that is offered at Penzey’s Spices certainly didn’t hurt either…I had everything she needed.

Three Bean Chili in Blue Soup Crock with Crockpot

I know there were times when my kids were younger that they resented some of the responsibilities brought on them as the result of being raised by a single parent but over the years it has served them well and that includes their capability in the kitchen.

Emily is by far the most knowledgeable and successful cook of her circle of friends and apparently holds her own during a company wide cooking event too…her chili was the winner!

Mom did make one little suggestion and Em has agreed a good one; she has used white wine when making this chili before because that is what she drinks; I thought chili required something a bit more robust so she bought some dark Guinness beer for this effort and we both loved it.

It was the one ingredient that was a clear indicator of what low and slow cooking brings to the ingredients. For the first couple of hours in the crockpot, the beer taste was evident but once the chili had cooked all day, it simply added to the overall flavor profile and the end result was simply delicious.

This is a crowd pleasing chili; not too hot, not too tame, nope…just right! Em’s professional cohorts did not benefit from the garnish of lime crema; both the size of tasting samples and the number of people being served forced that decision but do try it, it’s not just a pretty garnish; it adds a great touch to the flavor too.

PIN IT! ‘Award Winning Three Bean Chili’

Three Bean Chili Garnished with Sour Cream and Lime Wedge

Three Bean Chili Garnished with Sour Cream and Lime Wedge

Emily’s Award Winning Three Bean Crockpot Chili

Creative Culinary
5 average from less than 50 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Course Soups and Stews
Servings 8 -10 servings


  • 8 oz bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 lbs ground beef 93% lean
  • 2 large white onions diced (I diced one very finely in a food processor, and the other a bit more chunky)
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 3 garlic cloves diced
  • ¼ green bell pepper diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 1 Jalapeño finely diced, seeds removed
  • 1 - 16 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes mild
  • 2 - 16 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 - 7 oz can chopped green chiles
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 beef or chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder more or less to taste
  • 2 Tbsp dry parsley crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Salt or more, to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 12 oz dark beer I used Guinness
  • Lime crema and cilantro for garnish

For the lime crema:

  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp fresh grated lime peel


  • Saute bacon until crisp in large skillet; remove from pan and drain. Drain off all but 2 Tbsp of bacon fat. Add lean ground beef, onion, celery, garlic, green, red and jalapeno peppers and saute until beef is browned and vegetables are tender.
  • Put meat and vegetable mixture into a crockpot. Crumble crisp bacon and add rest to pot with all remaining ingredients except cilantro. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours; taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

To Make the Lime Crema:

  • Mix together the sour cream, lime juice and lime zest.
  • Garnish with a drizzle of lime crema and cilantro.


I suggested to Emily that she only serve cilantro on the side; though we love it many don't. If serving to folks that love it like we do? Mix about a quarter cup chopped to the chili right before serving it.


Nutrition Facts
Emily’s Award Winning Three Bean Crockpot Chili
Serving Size
1 grams
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. My mom and I are making this right now and it smells delicious! But did you both drain the beans when you made your chili? Thank you!

    1. If I didn’t call for it in the recipe then we did not. I don’t typically drain beans when I’m making chili so I think you’re good if you didn’t do it. Hope you enjoy it!

  2. This recipe sounds delicious! I love chili and beans and this has everything yummy in it, especially the chocolate which adds a new depth of flavor. Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Everyone has loved it and you’re right…the chocolate doesn’t make it taste chocolatey but just adds to the overall flavor like it would in a mole. Hope you enjoy it!

  3. OMG- sooooo awesomely good!! Makes ALOT of chili (about 5 quarts). So worth it!! Best chili we’ve ever had!! Added chik peas, refried beans and greek yogurt to the recipe. This will be my “go to” recipe for the best chili ever! Thanks Emily!!

  4. Yum I made this today and I think it’s now my go-to chili recipe even though it makes a ton of chili… not sure what size your crockpot is but mine is a 5QT and it was so full that I ended up leaving out the tomato sauce – and I accidentally omitted the worchestershire sauce – but it’s still delicious … I love the lime crema too! delicious recipe even though mine is slightly different!

    1. Oops…you know what? I have NO idea what size it is; maybe I should measure! It is pretty big though; Emily needed a lot for the office event. I love having a lot though because that means leftovers in the freezer!

  5. Yummm I love chili! Like you, I have a couple of favourites as well. However, there’s no “spicy black bean chili” in my favourites list yet, so this just might be it!

  6. OMG yes…. drool. We haven’t made chili in years and yours has me craving it – gorgeous, hearty, flavorful. But white wine? I’ve never heard of that. Beer is definitely the thing (mom knows best!). This is one great meal that would certainly help through even the most harrowing packing up and moving. I’m glad she is there to help you.

  7. I am a HUGE chili fan! I’ve been making my same recipe for ever and rarely branch out from it, mostly because my husband’s pickiness and resistance to change. He may just need to suck it up though because this chili must be made. I love the Guiness and cocoa in there along with all those lovely spices. I can’t wait to give this a try!

    1. It has a lot of ingredients but most are pretty typical household spices so it’s not hard to make.The Guinness required a trip to the liquor store…oh how horrible for me! 🙂

    1. Talk about a life turnaround…seems I was just showing her how to make something simple yesterday and now she’s telling me what to do! It is so good; one of my favorites.

  8. This is a winning recipe for sure! I like the addition of the beer, can’t go wrong with Guinness. It’s wonderful that you and Emily are cooking together.

  9. OH, MY STARS! B, Em’s recipe for chili is nearly identical to mine. Great minds eat alike, LOL! My recipe uses a beer reduction and I use Better Than Bouillon (beef bouillon paste) as well as other spices. Your food photography is beautiful. Love the way you presented the spoon and napkin with the crock of chili slightly askew. Looks so yummy…and, pretty in blue! xo

  10. Man….I do love good chili! With lots of beans and tomatoes. And I also see that you’ve used a little cinnamon and cocoa. Those add such richness to the pot! And the Guinness doesn’t hurt a thing either. Excellent recipe!

  11. Congratulations to Emily on her chili! It sounds like you had fun making it together and was a nice break from cleaning and organizing. So nice to discover hidden treasures, too! I like that this chili includes Worcestershire sauce – I’ll keep that in mind. And lime crema sounds lovely!

    1. That it was…and we were both ready for a break; the lull in the storm before the actual effort of moving in a couple of months! I love using lime crema in spicy soups; it’s a nice balance to some heat.

  12. Mmm, this sounds good. I love the addition of Guinness…it has such a lovely rich flavor. I’ve used the cocoa powder in my chili for ages to give it some more complexity and richness. Also, I’ve added espresso powder too. This chili will be great on our cold Rocky Mountain days.
    I’m so happy that Emily is finding hidden treasures from her childhood…and is also enjoying time with Mom.

    1. I’ve got more treasures than they have room for but she’s also taking the bedroom set that we finished for her when she was a little girl; perfect for her guest bedroom. Sarah took a beautiful wood doll highchair and crib; Maggie is now walking and it won’t be long before she’ll be playing with dolls so I’m so happy to pass that on to someone I care about.

  13. I love everything about this chilli. The cilantro ( i love it so I want the quarter cup in it ) , the guiness, and the slow cooked process! Perfection!

    1. I’m with you…but I’ve heard if you don’t like it that it’s the kind of taste that takes over a dish; much like green pepper does with me. I’ve got a bunch of leftovers…coming soon?

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