2 ratings

Beef and Brat Chili With White Beans

Always a winner
Beef and Brat Chili With White Beans
Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune

White beans and bratwurst add a hearty punch to this savory beef chili. This recipe serves 10-12, but can easily be cut in half if you're cooking for a smaller crowd.

This recipe is by JeanMarie Brownson and originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

Ready in
2 h and 45 m
45 m
(prepare time)
2 h
(cook time)


If using a slow cooker, the total cooking time will be 5 hours and 45 minutes.


  • 3 Pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) sweet onions, chopped
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 Cup chili powder
  • 1/4 Cup ancho chili powder (half of a 1.2 ounce jar)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 3 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 small red bell peppers, cored, diced
  • 8 -10 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 4 Cups cooked dried white beans or drained canned white kidney beans
  • 2 Pounds fully cooked bratwurst sausages (or kielbasa, thuringer or andouille chicken sausage)
  • Chili garnishes: Crumbled tortilla chips, oyster crackers, shredded cheese, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, green onions


Step 1: Heat oven to 325 F. Pat beef dry. In the bottom of a large (7-quart) Dutch oven or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Working in batches, brown the beef in oil until golden on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove to a large plate. Repeat to brown all beef, adding oil as needed.

Step 2: In the Dutch oven or skillet, add 1 large (or 2 medium) chopped sweet onions to the pan drippings. Cook and stir until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in 6 ounces of tomato paste, 6 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup chili powder, 1/4 cup ancho chili powder, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for 1 minute.

Step 3: If using a Dutch oven, stir the beef into the onion mixture. If using a large (7 quart) slow cooker, scrape the onion mixture into it along with the beef. Into the Dutch oven or slow cooker, stir in 3 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes, 1 and 1/2 cups broth, 2 small diced red bell peppers and 8-10 ounces of sliced cremini mushrooms (optional).

Step 4: Cover the Dutch oven and cook in the oven until beef is fork-tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Alternatively, slow-cook on low for 4 hours. (Chili base can be made up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate covered.)

Step 5: About 30 minutes before serving, reheat the chili base. If using cooked dried beans (4 cups), add them now and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Step 6: Slice 2 pounds of fully cooked bratwurst into ¼-inch thick slices. Stir into the chili (along with the 4 cups of canned beans if using them instead of using the cooked dried beans). Heat through, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt to taste.

Step 7: Set out chili garnishes in serving bowls. Serve chili hot, topped with desired garnishes.