Classic Chili Bowl Recipe with Cornbread Waffles 9

Classic Chili Bowl Recipe with Cornbread Waffles

During the cold winter months there is nothing better than a warm bowl of chili! And this traditional chili recipe will not disappoint! The best part is it can be made in the slow cooker while you check off other items on your to do list! This is a great recipe for busy people who want an easy dinner the entire family will enjoy. And don’t forget the cornbread waffles, one of my favorite toppings for chili!  Full recipe card below.

Classic Chili Bowl Recipe with Cornbread Waffles 12

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What is chili?

The great debate! Depending on where you live, this answer varies quite a bit. Chili is most commonly associated with Texas, the Midwest (specifically Cincinnati) and New Mexico and Colorado for their green chili. And then there is the white chicken chili that has grown in popularity and also one of my favorites! So what’s the difference?

Texas chili is usually a greater ratio of meat to sauce and includes no beans or fillers, just veggies and chili peppers. I would argue Cincinnati chili is really more like spicy spaghetti as it is usually served on top of noodles. And Hatch green chili as it is popular in New Mexico and my home state of Colorado is usually a spicy chili made with hatch green chilis and pork.

But no matter what type of chili we are talking about there are usually a few basic ingredients. Normally chili includes a meat, a sauce, veggies, chili or hot peppers, and sometimes fillers like beans, rice, or noodles. Most chilis also vary depending on the sauce to meat and veggie ratios. Some chilis are more like a stew with beef broth, some are more like a soup, and some are more like a saucy meat dish.

What type of chili is this?

This is a traditional red beef chili. I personally prefer a more chunky soup like chili regardless of whether it’s a red, green, or white chili. So this one is roughly a 50:50 ratio of sauce to other ingredients and is definitely a bean chili.

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Basic Red Chili Ingredients

Most chili recipes have similar basic ingredients that are consistent across the board. I will break down what I use and why and what ingredients can be substituted or left out.

Ground Beef – The most affordable and easiest option for chili is ground beef. I used a lean ground beef but any version will do. You can also use ground turkey, ground bison, or shredded beef or pork, or no meat at all for a vegetarian chili. For one of my chili cook off parties I made this with smoked pulled pork and it was AMAZING but definitely took a lot more time. I do not recommend chicken in this recipe because I just don’t think chicken goes with red sauce as well as a red meat. I think chicken is better suited for white chili.

Beans – As I mentioned above, many chili recipes do not include beans, but I always add chili beans to mine. Chili beans are usually either pinto beans or kidney beans in chili sauce. So if you don’t have chili beans those are  good substitutes. You can also add a mixture of beans for more protein and omit the meat if you are looking for a vegetarian chili recipe.

Tomato Sauce – The base of this chili is a tomato sauce. To make things super simple I used unsalted cans of tomato sauce. But feel free to make your own sauce with fresh tomatoes and tomato paste if you want.

Onion – Adding fresh onion to chili is very common and adds extra flavor to the sauce. I normally use a white or yellow onion diced small. To speed up the chopping process, I use this slicer. It is truly a game changer when it comes to prep work and it can shred cheese too!

Jalapenos – Jalapenos add some heat to the sauce. You can remove the seeds for a milder version, keep the seeds in for a hot sauce, or do half with the seeds and half without to meet somewhere in the middle. Since the spiciness of jalapenos varies, I usually taste mine before I decide.

Did you know that jalapenos with striations on the exterior or that are changing color from green to red or orange are spicier? These jalapenos were left on the vine longer and have more heat.

For all my spice lovers out there, feel free to add other types of chili peppers as well. I have used serrano peppers, habanero peppers, and Thai chili peppers before but they do take the spice up quite a bit!

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Bell Peppers – I like to add one red pepper and one green pepper. The red bell peppers are sweeter and the green ones add a lot of flavor. Both make great additions to chili.

Rotel – For a little extra heat and chunkiness, I also add a can of Rotel to my chili. You can use the original, hot, or roasted tomato version.

Garlic  – I always use real garlic from the jar because it’s convenient and has a softer flavor than garlic powder. If you choose to use garlic powder you will not need as much. Substitute 1/8 tsp of garlic powder for 1 tsp of fresh.

Worcestershire Sauce – The ingredient no one can pronounce correctly, haha! This potent sauce will add quite a bit of umami flavor with sweet, salty, and sour all at once.

Brown Sugar – To offset some of the heat a little, I always add some brown sugar. It softens the heat and rounds it out so it isn’t as harsh.

BBQ Sauce – For the same reason I add brown sugar, I add BBQ sauce. It adds a little sweetness to the otherwise savory and spicy dish.

Cocoa Powder – Adding unsweetened cocoa powder might seem like an odd choice, but is actually often considered the secret ingredient. It adds an earthiness with extra flavor and richness complementing the savory very well. I always use dark cocoa powder because that is what I like to bake with.

Liquid Smoke – This ingredient is totally optional, but it adds a smokiness to the chili that is SO good! You could also achieve this with a smoky tasting BBQ sauce if you cannot find liquid smoke.

Chili Seasonings – I prefer to season my chili with my own combination of spices so I can control the sodium. But you can definitely just buy a chili seasoning packet if you prefer.

Cornbread Waffles – I came up with this idea many years ago when our oven was broken and I had to find ways to cook without it until it was fixed. I wanted cornbread to go with my chili so I made it in my waffle iron and what do you know, it’s delicious and kind of a novel way to enjoy cornbread with chili!

Cooking Method – Chili is the perfect dish to make in the slow cooker because the flavors develop over time and no one wants to stand in front of the stove top for hours on end. Crockpots are also great for transporting for a chili cook-off party. I have hosted several and this keeps all the chilis hot and ready to taste. However, if you do not have a crockpot, you can definitely make this chili on the stove in a large pot or Dutch oven.

Classic Chili Bowl Recipe with Cornbread Waffles 1

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Classic Chili Bowl Recipe with Cornbread Waffles 9

Classic Chili Bowl Recipe with Cornbread Waffles

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  • Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x


The ultimate winter comfort food, a classic red chili bowl with cornbread waffles. The perfect dish for watching football, a cold night in, or simply an easy week night family meal. Just add all the ingredients to your slow cooker in the morning and by the end of the day, dinner is ready! You can even make it for your next chili cookoff party! A simple combination of meat, veggies, and spice make this an easy dish for everyone to love.



1 lb Ground Beef cooked and drained

15.50 oz Chili Beans drained (1 can)

30 oz Tomato Sauce (2 cans)

10 oz Rotel (1 can)

1/2 Yellow Onion diced

2 Jalapenos diced

1 Red Bell Pepper diced

1 Green Bell Pepper diced

2 tsp Garlic minced

1 tbsp BBQ Sauce

1 tbsp Chili Powder

1 tbsp Brown Sugar

1 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt

1/2 tsp Cocoa Powder

1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

8 drops Liquid Smoke (optional)

Sour Cream (for topping)

Green Onions (for topping)

Cheddar Cheese (for topping)

Easy Cornbread Recipe



  1. On medium-high heat, brown the ground beef in a large saucepan. Once fully cooked, drain and add the cooked meat to your slow cooker.
  2. Drain the chili beans and add them to the meat in the crockpot.
  3. Add the tomato sauce to the meat and chili beans.
  4. Dice all the veggies and add them to the other items in the crock pot. To speed up chopping, I use this slicer.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and homemade chili seasoning to the slow cooker and stir.
  6. Turn on the crock pot and set it to low. Cook for 4-8 hours.
  7. Fill bowls with chili and top with a dollop of sour cream, cheese, and green onions.
  8. Serve with a side of cornbread waffles.

Corn Bread Waffles

  1. 20 minutes before the chili is ready, mix up the cornbread mix.
  2. Heat the waffle iron to medium heat.
  3. Spray the iron on both sides with cooking spray.
  4. Pour about four tablespoons of the mix into the waffle iron and close.
  5. Cook for about two minutes per waffle or until golden brown. Makes about 10 waffles.


The chili will thin out a little as it cooks and the veggies start to give off some of their moisture.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Classic Chili Bowl Recipe with Cornbread Waffles 9


This classic chili recipe makes 6-8 regular bowls of chili. Any leftover chili can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I have not tried to freeze this so do so at your own risk.

How to reheat chili

I usually reheat chili in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds stirring in between until chili is heated all the way through. You can also reheat on medium low heat on the stovetop if you prefer.

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When to make chili with cornbread waffles

One of my favorite things about the winter is making a large pot of chili! This easy chili recipe is perfect for snowy days, busy days, or even game days! You can set it and forget it and have a hearty chili waiting for you for dinner. It’s also perfect for chili cook-offs and fall parties. No matter when you decide to make this chili bowl recipe, I am confident you will love it!

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