Smoky chipotle chili is a simple combination peppers and spices that come together to make a delicious chili that has plenty of heat without being mouth-scorching hot.

black bowl of Smoky Chipotle Chili topped with shredded cheese


Not to brag here, but this smoky chipotle chili recipe has won several local chili cook-offs. 

Yeah, it’s that good.

This simple chili uses chipotles peppers, chipotle chili powder, and hot smoked paprika to give you a chili full of smoky heat packs a punch but isn’t mouth-scorching.

We’ve shared chili recipes in the past. Our pale ale beer chili and Cincinnati chili are game day favorites, and our Instant Pot chili and Instant Pot white chicken chili recipe are quick and easy for winter dinners.

This chili is on a whole other level. We guarantee it’ll become your new go to whenever you are craving a little heat.

Give it a try on our chili dog sliders!

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ingredients for Smoky Chipotle Chili

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Ground beef – We prefer ground beef for a traditional chili flavor but you can make this with ground turkey or a mix of ground beef and turkey if you like.
  • Seasonings – You’ll you salt, pepper, and our special chili seasoning blend which uses chili Powder, smoked chipotle chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and hot smoked paprika
  • Peppers – This chili uses serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for some spicy goodness.
  • Onions – You can use either yellow, red, or white.
  • Garlic – You can use pre-minced, but we find fresh tastes better.
  • Beef Broth – You could use water, but the broth gives it a richer flavor.
  • Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles – this is canned diced tomatoes with green chiles or you can do diced tomatoes and jalapenos, or habanero…whatever you like!
  • Black Beans – You could use red, kidney, or pinto beans if you prefer.
  • Red Wine Vinegar – This gives the chili the magic pop, so do not skip the vinegar.
  • Fresh Cilantro – This gives the chili a bit of fresh flavor.
pot full of Smoky Chipotle Chili


Step 1 – Brown the meat. In a large stock pot, brown the ground beef in batches, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Set the meat to the side.

Step 2 – Sauté the veggies. Once you remove the meat, add the onions, garlic, Serrano pepper, and jalapeno peppers to the pot and then saute until onions turn translucent (about 3-5 minutes).

Step 3 – Simmer the broth. Add the browned ground beef to the mixture along with the chili seasoning, chipotles in adobo, beef broth, diced tomatoes and green chiles, and black beans. Stir together, cover with a lid, and let it simmer for 45 minutes. 

Step 4 – Add the vinegar. After 45 minutes remove the lid and add the red wine vinegar. Stir well and let simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. 

Step 5 – Add the cilantro. Stir in the cilantro and serve. 

scooping Smoky Chipotle Chili into a black bowl

What is a Chipotle Pepper?

Chipotle peppers are actually smoke dried jalapeno peppers. These peppers typically appear in Mexican and Mexican-inspired recipes, such as chili. It provides a smokey heat to the dishes you use it in. 

You can find chipotle peppers in several different forms. Around the United States, you can often get them canned in adobo sauce, a type of spicy red sauce. You can also find them as powders or as dried peppers.

What is the Most Important Ingredient in Chili? 

In our opinion, it’s the peppers! 

Specifically in this case, it’s the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that make the difference. These smokey, hot peppers give the chili the perfect amount of heat that doesn’t light your mouth on fire but instead fades to this smoldering heat in your mouth.

The fresh serrano and jalapeno peppers add a bolder more aggressive heat. You can control the amount of heat by choosing to remove the seeds and ribs from the peppers (removes some of the heat) or leaving them in.

Don’t underestimate the dried chili powders! Both the chipotle chili powder and hot smoked paprika add a combination of heat and smokiness that makes this chili something special.   

bowl with Smoky Chipotle Chili with crackers

Beans or No Beans? 

Some people feel strongly about no beans in chili, but we like to add them as a little extra filler. The added fiber and protein from the beans help make the dish go a lot further.

Black beans are our favorite in this particular chili, but you could also use pinto beans or kidney beans. If you prefer no beans, we have a great recipe for a keto chili with no beans

How to Make it Ahead of Time

Chili is like soup: it tastes even better a day or two after you make it. To make ahead, fully cook the chili and then let it cool completely. Place the chili in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

If you prefer to freeze it, you can place it in an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Before reheating, place the chili in the fridge overnight to thaw.

You can reheat chili on the stove in a pot over medium heat until warmed through. Or if you bring it as a lunch, you can microwave for one to two minutes or until warmed through.

holding a bowl of bowl with Smoky Chipotle Chili with crackers

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Servings: 10
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Smoky Chipotle Chili

Smoky chipotle chili recipe uses a peppers and spices combo that makes a chili that has plenty of heat without being mouth-scorching hot.
black bowl of Smoky Chipotle Chili topped with shredded cheese
Print Recipe
4.67 from 6 votes


  • 1.5 pounds Ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1 large Onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Serrano Pepper, finely diced and seeded (See note #1)
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, finely diced and seeded
  • 3 ounces Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, finely dice the chipotle chilies
  • 4 cups Beef broth
  • 20 ounces Diced tomatoes with green chiles, we use Rotel original
  • 15.5 ounces Canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon Red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped

Chili Seasoning:


  • In a small bowl mix together all of the ingredients for the chili seasoning.
  • Brown ground beef in batches adding salt and black pepper as you go. Set to the side.
  • Sauté onions, garlic, serrano pepper and jalapeno peppers until onions are translucent. Approximately 3-5 minutes. (See note #1)
  • Add the browned ground beef to the mixture along with the chili seasoning, finely minced chipotles in adobo, beef broth, diced tomatoes and green chiles, and black beans. Stir together, cover with a lid, and let it simmer for 45 minutes. (See note #2)
  • Stir in the red wine vinegar and let simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the cilantro and serve.


  1. The serrano pepper will be the spiciest thing you add to this chili. We have removed the ribs and seeds to help moderate the spice level but if you want to tone down the heat you can skip the serrano pepper completely. 
  2. If you want to up the heat you can add more chipotles and a few tablespoons of the adobo sauce to your chili. 


Serving: 8.5ounces, Calories: 213kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 44mg, Sodium: 1107mg, Potassium: 635mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 2048IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 75mg, Iron: 5mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Handwritten signature for Kat & Melinda