BEST Smoky and Sweet Chili {Stove Top OR Crockpot} - Key To My Lime

Sweet Chili Recipe

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If you’re looking for the best hearty cold weather comfort food, this Sweet Chili Recipe is for you! It’s the perfect balance of flavors between sweet, spicy, and smoky. It’s all around a delicious chili that everyone in the family loves (and always wants seconds of)!

Sweet Chili

Oh my gosh, this chili is so good! It has just a little bit of heat from the chili powder and a delicious amount of sweetness from the brown sugar. It’s really just the perfect balance all around. There’s not too much or too little of anything.

It’s definitely one of those hearty meals that you can whip together in no time in the colder months on the stove top. Or you can make it in the Crockpot and have it ready for you when you get home after enjoying some time outside in the cool air.

This chili recipe is loved all around in our family. Everyone from my 5-year-old nephew to my father-in-law wanted seconds and commented on how tasty it was.

I served it with some tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream, a little bit of shredded cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of green onions. It was the perfect combination.

Ingredients

Beef: I prefer using lean ground beef because I drain off the excess fat. If you like to use a fattier ground beef and leave the fat in, you’re totally welcome to! It all depends on the texture and flavor you like for your chili.

Aromatics: A combination of fresh onion and fresh garlic adds so much flavor to this dish. It’s really worth the time to dice the onion and mince the garlic instead of just relying on dried spices. If you want to add more vegetables to this dish, try adding in some diced green bell pepper, too.

Sugar: Light brown sugar is my favorite way to add sweetness to chili. You can substitute this with granulated sugar or dark brown sugar if you prefer those flavor profiles though.

Spices: A combination of chili powder, paprika, fine sea salt, ground black pepper, onion powder, and ground cumin adds tons of flavor to this chili and seasons it perfectly.

Beans: We’re using canned beans in this dish. One can of Bush’s Original Baked Beans and one can of drained and rinsed black beans is my favorite combination.

Tomato Sauce: The acidity in the tomato sauce is what pairs so well with the brown sugar in this dish. They really balance each other out so well. I definitely wouldn’t recommend skipping it.

Corn: Since this is a sweet chili recipe, I do love the added sweetness and texture from the corn. Whether or not you include it is totally up to you though – it will be delicious either way.

The labeled ingredients for sweet chili.

How To Make Sweet Chili

Start by cooking the ground beef in a dutch oven. Once it’s about halfway cooked, drain off any excess fat, then stir in the diced onion. Saute until the beef is browned and the onions are translucent. Mix in the minced garlic and saute until the garlic is aromatic. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)

Sauteing ground beef and onions in a dutch oven.

Add in the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, fine sea salt, ground black pepper, onion powder, and ground cumin. Stir to evenly coat the beef in the spices.

Mixing brown sugar and chili spices into cooked ground beef.

Add in the baked beans, tomato sauce, drained and rinsed black beans, and the drained corn. Stir to mix. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and simmer until the ingredients are heated through and the flavors have had a chance to mingle. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, cooking times, Crockpot cooking instructions, and helpful tips, etc.

Mixing baked beans, black beans, tomato sauce, and corn into chili.

Is Sweet Chili Spicy?

This recipe has a bit of spice from the chili powder blend, but it’s definitely not overly spicy. It’s very much a kid friendly recipe that a big family can enjoy.

A bowl of the best sweet chili on top of a plaid napkin.

How Do You Add Sweetness To Chili?

Different people have different preferences for their favorite way to add sweetness to chili. My personal favorite is brown sugar. The combination of sugar and molasses really pairs well with the tomato and ground beef in chili. Some people prefer granulated sugar or honey though, it’s totally up to you!

What Does Adding Sugar To Chili Do?

Adding sugar balances out the acidity of the tomato sauce, and it calms down the heat in the chili powder. This recipe isn’t overly spicy to begin with, so you’ll mostly notice that it tastes sweeter and less acidic than other chili recipes.

A close up overhead image of a pot full of sweet chili.

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

Pin this recipe for later!

A Pinterest pin image with two pictures of sweet chili, and title text at the top.

Chili Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our soup and stew recipes! Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 8 servings

BEST Sweet Chili Recipe {Stove Top OR Crockpot}

The best sweet chili recipe.

Sweet Chili is the best hearty cold weather comfort food! It’s the perfect balance of flavors between sweet, spicy, and smoky.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion (diced, about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder*
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (16 ounce) can Bush’s Original Baked Beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn (drained)
  • Green onions (optional, for garnish)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional, for garnish)

Instructions

    Stove Top:

    1. Heat a medium dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the crumbles. Drain away any grease. Mix in the onion, and cook until the onions are translucent and the beef is browned (about another 4 minutes). Add in the garlic, and saute until aromatic (about one more minute).
    2. Mix in the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, fine sea salt, ground black pepper, onion powder, and ground cumin.
    3. Add the baked beans, tomato sauce, black beans, and corn. Mix to combine. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
    4. Garnish with green onions and shredded cheddar cheese, and serve!

    Crockpot:

    1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the crumbles. Drain away any grease. Mix in the onion, and cook until the onions are translucent and the beef is browned (about another 4 minutes). Add in the garlic, and saute until aromatic (about one more minute).
    2. Transfer the beef mixture to the crockpot, add the remaining ingredients, and stir.
    3. Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or on LOW for 4-5 hours.
    4. Garnish with green onions and shredded cheddar cheese, and serve!

    Notes

    *This is a spice blend sold in the USA and Canada that’s much milder than the pure chili powders sold in the UK and other parts of the world.

    Chili is one of those foods where the leftovers always taste better the next day. If you have the time, I definitely recommend making this meal ahead and reheating it just before serving.

    Nutrition Information:

    Serving Size:

    1/8

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 322Total Fat: 12.5gCarbohydrates: 33.1gFiber: 5.7gSugar: 15.8gProtein: 22g

    Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

    DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

    Tag @KeyToMyLime on Instagram so we can see your delicious meal!

    If you’re looking for a sweet chili recipe that’s restaurant quality and has the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and smoky, this is the unique chili recipe for you!

    The best sweet chili recipe.

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