If you have some leftover brisket and basic chili ingredients, this smoked brisket chili is a must-try!
It’s not so much a fiery chili, but it’s one with great layers of flavor from the smoke, the spices, and the toppings. And who’d have thought something so complex in flavor would be so simple to make?
I’m telling you this chili is so good, I’m already thinking about smoking another brisket just to make it all over again!
The secret to this smoked brisket chili
Layers. When you fall in love with an insanely good bowl of chili, the real secret, as with all love affairs, is in its layers. And this chili has layers of flavors.
By using leftover smoked brisket, the hard work is done, and we have a huge depth of flavor from the meat layer.
Add to this some crispy bacon, veggies that have been sautéd till they are nice and soft, spices, tomato sauce, and beans, and bam, you just recreated that insanely good bowl of chili.
I recommended you let the chili simmer for at least an hour. This allows the flavors to marry together, and the payoff is well worth it.
Beans vs. no beans
Before you get hot under the collar about me including beans in chili, feel free to leave them out.
I took a poll on our Instagram because I was curious myself and was happy to find that 71% of all voters said that beans belong in chili.
I was expecting it to be more like 50% but I was pleasantly surprised!
Different regions have their own styles of chili. For example, most Texans wouldn’t consider including beans in chili. I grew up on the east coast in a house where beans belong in chili.
Not only are beans like little sponges that soak up the meaty flavor, but they are also a great source of fiber, vitamins, and protein.
Just be careful though too many beans can dry out the chili. I opted for two 15oz cans of red kidney beans because they are hearty, absorbent, and soften without getting mushy.
Could I use other BBQ meat?
This chili could be easily replicated with other leftover meats. Since this is a smoked chili you want to use leftovers that spent time on the grill or smoker.
If you are going meatless, which we don’t recommend, it would pay to put some char on the veggies to get that extra smoky flavor.
As mentioned before, chili is all about the layers, and the toppings are the final ones.
Everyone has their own favorites, but for this chili, I selected cheese, sour cream, jalapeños, and cilantro.
The shredded cheese melts deliciously while the sour cream adds a nice hit of acid and creaminess.
The chili is pretty mild in the spice factor, so the jalapeños bring it up to my level. You could try pickled ones if you need a lower addition of heat.
The final topping of cilantro brightens the chili and contrasts the deep smoky notes.
Other great topping options you might want to add; hot sauce, chopped white onions, green onions, and you can always experiment with different types of cheese.
How to make smoked brisket chili
The great thing about this recipe is you only need a pot, which makes for minimal cleanup! Make sure you have a decent-sized one, I used an 8 quart to make sure I had plenty of room.
Turn your element to medium heat and drizzle some olive oil into your pot, add the bacon and cook until it starts to crisp up. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.
Then add in your onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.
The veggies will take 20-30 minutes to soften but make sure you take the time to cook them properly as you don’t want them crunchy.
You can add your seasoning once the vegetables are soft as well as the chopped brisket. I used mostly brisket from the flat but did add some point meat as well. Both will work great so it’s really whatever you have left over.
Lastly add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and kidney beans. Let the chili get all nice and cozy in the pot while it simmers for an hour or more. Just make sure you stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.
If you’re looking for more smokey flavor, you could simmer the chili on your smoker on low and let it develop even more. I find that the smokiness of the leftover brisket adds enough smoke without overpowering the dish so I opted for the stovetop version.
Serve over rice or noodles, but the chili is hearty enough to stand on its own. Cornbread would be a nice addition, as would a few crunchy corn chips.
I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does!
Looking for some more leftover inspiration?
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 slices thick bacon chopped
- 2 bell peppers diced
- 2 white onions diced
- 2 cups tomatoes quartered
- 2 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp pepper
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 4 lb brisket cooked and chopped
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 28 oz can of tomato sauce
- 30 oz canned kidney beans drained
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Diced jalapeños
- Sour cream
- Heat a pot on medium heat and add olive oil and bacon then saute until the edges of the bacon start crisping up.
- Add bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and garlic, and cook until the veggies have softened.
- Add all of the seasonings and stir to combine.
- Add the brisket and stir to combine.
- Add in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and kidney beans and stir to combine.
- Allow the chili to simmer on low heat for an hour or more for the sauce to thicken.
- Serve with toppings of choice.