Satisfy Your Cravings with Our Smoky Kentucky Chili Recipe

Are you ready for some smoky, spicy, and delicious Kentucky chili? Look no further than this recipe, which is sure to satisfy your cravings for an authentic flavor that is unique to the state of Kentucky. As a culinary explorer, I have tasted many chili recipes in my travels, but nothing compares to the smoky and savory flavors of this Kentucky-style chili.

This recipe uses a delightful combination of spices, including chipotle hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ground turmeric, dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, garlic, black pepper and salt to create an irresistible taste that will leave your taste buds craving for more. Plus, the addition of ale and bourbon smoked paprika adds a touch of sweetness that perfectly balances out the spicy flavors of the chili.

Whether you’re hosting a game day party, feeding a crowd at a barbecue or looking for a hearty meal on a chilly night, this smoky Kentucky chili has got you covered. So get your ingredients together and let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Smoky Kentucky Chili
Smoky Kentucky Chili

Are you tired of typical chili recipes that lack in flavor and excitement? Look no further than this Smoky Kentucky Chili recipe. Trust me, once you try this recipe, your taste buds will thank you. And here’s why:

Firstly, this recipe features a unique combination of ingredients that are perfectly balanced to create a rich, smoky flavor. The addition of chipotle hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, and bourbon gives this chili an unforgettable taste that is sure to impress.

Secondly, this recipe offers versatility in its protein choices. You can either use lean ground beef or ground turkey to make this chili, making it a healthier option. The addition of two types of beans – pinto and black – gives the dish both texture and added nutrition.

Lastly, the Smoky Kentucky Chili offers flexibility in serving options. It can be easily turned into a vegetarian version by omitting the meat and adding different spices to enhance its flavor. This recipe also allows for personal variations and substitutions to suit your preferences.

So why not spice up your dinner routine with a fresh take on classic chili? The Smoky Kentucky Chili is an excellent choice for someone looking for a flavorful meal with a bit of heat – perfect for any occasion!

Ingredient List

 Savor the taste of the wild, wild West with Smoky Kentucky Chili
Savor the taste of the wild, wild West with Smoky Kentucky Chili

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients that you will need to make this Smoky Kentucky Chili recipe.


You will need a combination of 1 lb of ground turkey and lean ground beef, but you can substitute one with the other according to your preference.


For this particular recipe, I recommend using a mixture of canned pinto beans and black beans. Make sure to drain them and rinse them well before adding them to the pot.

Canned Tomatoes

You will need one can of crushed tomatoes for the base of your chili.


Adding some ale to your chili will give it a depth of flavor and bring balance to your dish. The recipe requires 1 bottle or can (12 oz) of any ale that you prefer.

Veggies & Spices

To give this chili its signature smoky flavor, you will use ingredients such as smoked paprika, chipotle hot sauce, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, salt, cumin, and dried oregano. They blend perfectly well with garlic and onion which adds another layer of flavor.

Don’t forget to add 1 teaspoon of bourbon smoked salt for an added boost!

With all these delicious ingredients combined in one pot – this Kentucky-inspired chili is sure to pack a punch in both flavor and nutrition.

The Recipe How-To

 Hearty and spicy, this chili will warm your soul
Hearty and spicy, this chili will warm your soul

Get Ready to Cook

Before starting to cook the Smoky Kentucky Chili, gather your ingredients and tools. Having everything ready will make cooking easier and enjoyable. You will need a large Dutch oven or pot with a lid, wooden spoon, measuring cups and spoons, and a sharp knife.

Prepare the Meat

It’s time to brown the meat. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown 1 lb each of lean ground beef and ground turkey until fully cooked. Then remove the meat from the pot and set aside.

Sauté the Aromatics

Using the same pot, add diced onions, minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant.

Deglaze with Bourbon

Add 1/4 cup of Kentucky bourbon into the pot to deglaze it. Be sure to scrape off all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot as those are loaded with flavor!

Add Canned Goods

Add a small can of crushed tomatoes and two cans each of pinto beans and black beans (drained and rinsed). Stir well.

Add Liquid and Spices

Pour in 12 ounces of your favorite ale beer into the chili pot along with Worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons), chipotle hot sauce (1 tablespoon), 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon each of smoked salt and black pepper. Give it a good mix!

Simmer and Let it Cook

Now add back in cooked meat into the Dutch oven or pot. Cover your chili with its lid, reduce heat to low — let it simmer for about an hour-and-a-half over low heat while occasionally stirring.

Serve Hot

Remove from heat when everything is tenderized, flavorful, fragrant, so divine. Serve this Smoky Kentucky Chili piping hot in bowls topped with shredded cheddar cheese or cilantro on top — or even better yet, with a scoop of my bean dip!

Substitutions and Variations

 Serve up a piping hot bowl of comfort with our Smoky Kentucky Chili
Serve up a piping hot bowl of comfort with our Smoky Kentucky Chili

While the Smoky Kentucky Chili Recipe is already bursting with flavor, there are some great substitutions and variations you can use to make this dish even more enjoyable.

For instance, if you’re looking for a vegan option, try substituting the ground turkey and beef with plant-based meats or textured vegetable protein (TVP). You can also replace the Worcestershire sauce with soy sauce or liquid smoke to give it a similar smoky flavor.

If you prefer a milder chili, you can also reduce the amount of chili powder, cumin, and chipotle hot sauce. Conversely, if you want to turn up the heat, add more chili powder or diced chile peppers.

Another great variation is to add different types of beans to the mix. Instead of using only pinto and black beans, try adding kidney beans or navy beans for a different texture and flavor. You could even use bean dip as your base instead of crushed tomatoes for an unexpected twist.

For those who enjoy a bit of bourbon flair, consider adding a teaspoon of bourbon or bourbon smoked salt to your chili recipe for an extra kick. Alternatively, you could experiment with different types of ale in place of water if you want a more complex flavor profile.

Overall, don’t be afraid to get creative with this Smoky Kentucky Chili Recipe. Making small substitutions and adjustments can lead to unique and exciting new flavors that everyone at the dinner table will love.

Serving and Pairing

When it comes to serving and pairing this smoky Kentucky chili recipe, the options are endless. Serve it hot and hearty with a side of cornbread, in a bread bowl, or even over some fluffy white rice.

For a more elevated dining experience, consider garnishing the chili with some chopped fresh cilantro or green onions. Top it off with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, and maybe even some crunchy tortilla strips. These toppings will not only add texture but also help to balance out the heat from the chili.

If you’re craving something lighter, try pairing this smoky chicken chili with a simple green salad or some buttery avocado toast. The refreshing greens will complement the richness of the chili while cutting through its spiciness.

When it comes to beverages, we recommend serving this bourbon smoked chili alongside a rich and full-bodied ale or maybe even a smoky bourbon cocktail. The malty notes in the ale will highlight the cumin and chili powder flavors in the dish, while a bourbon cocktail like an Old Fashioned will complement the smoky paprika undertones.

Whether you’re serving this dish up for family game night or hosting a gathering of friends for a cozy weekend dinner party – this smoky Kentucky chili is sure to be a hit!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

To save time and effort, you can make this Smoky Kentucky Chili recipe ahead of time. This dish actually tastes even better the next day when all the flavors have had a chance to meld together. Make it a day or two before you plan to serve it and store it in your refrigerator.

When storing leftover chili in the fridge, it’s best to transfer it into an airtight container or zip-lock bag once it cools down. The chili will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze the chili for longer storage. Simply divide it into portions and put them into freezer bags or containers. Label each container with the date so that you know how long you have before they go bad. When defrosting the chili, take out the bags from the freezer and let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

To reheat frozen or refrigerated chili, pour it into a saucepan and heat over medium heat until hot. If the chili is too thick, you can thin it out with a little bit of chicken broth or water. Help yourself by adding some shredded cheese, sour cream or fresh herbs on top when serving for extra flavor.

This smoky Kentucky chili recipe is perfect for batch cooking or entertaining guests. Preparing in advance and storing in your fridge/freezer will make dinner preparation easier while still being able to taste its delicious smoky flavors.

Tips for Perfect Results

Flavors are intensified when making Smoky Kentucky Chili, so it is imperative to get everything right to ensure a delicious output. Small changes could make a huge difference in the taste. Therefore, here are some tips and tricks for the perfect smoky chili recipe:

Firstly, don’t skip the deglazing part of the recipe. After cooking the turkey or beef in the first step, remove it from the skillet and do not clean or discard the pan entirely. Instead, pour orange juice or any type of broth into the pan, scrape up any browned bits with a spatula or wooden spoon, and then add this mixture back to the pot. The combination of flavors created by deglazing adds a depth of flavor you wouldn’t have if you were skipping it altogether.

Secondly, smell everything before starting to cook. Ensure that all spices and ingredients still have their potent aroma. Spoiled ingredients make bad food. Check if your spices and herbs have lost their fragrances and are past their prime or past their expiration date.

Thirdly, remember that chili always tastes better the day after! Allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight for maximum flavor infusion. The longer chili sits together in a fridge, the more its flavors seep into one another and blend together seamlessly.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with different smoky chili variations. Spice enthusiasts can add some extra chile peppers or chipotle hot sauce for an added kick; beer lovers may try substituting ale instead of chicken stock; bourbon aficionados might want to add more bourbon smoked paprika and replace some teaspoons of tomato paste with bourbon. By trying different combinations and variations of ingredients, one can create unique flavors while maintaining that traditional smoky taste in Kentucky chili.

With these tips in mind, you can prepare velvety-smooth Smoky Kentucky Chili like a pro!


Before we wrap up this article, I will answer a few frequently asked questions about this smoky Kentucky chili recipe. These queries will help you prepare for the perfect cuisine experience in the kitchen. So let’s dive right into it!

How do I make my chili taste smoky?

When it comes to giving your chili a smoky flavor, there are a few options available. One approach is to utilize liquid smoke, which can definitely bring some smokiness to your dish, but isn’t quite the same as true smoke. Another option is to incorporate a BBQ or hot sauce that already has a smoky taste to it, which can add some depth to your chili.

What secret ingredient will deepen the flavor of your chili?

There’s a little trick I discovered to make your chili taste even better – adding puréed pumpkin to the mix. This should be done after sautéing the onions, garlic, and other aromatics, but before adding any liquid. By doing so, the flavor of the chili is enhanced with a subtle sweetness that balances out the heat from the chile peppers. This simple addition is sure to impress!

What is the best alcohol to put in chili?

When it comes to preparing chili, incorporating dark and rich stouts or a few splashes of red wine can make all the difference. Despite the initial presence of alcohol, the end result boasts a deep and flavorful taste that complements the smoky heat of the other ingredients. This technique is sure to enhance your chili experience.

What is the secret to great chili?

When it comes to experimenting with flavors in the kitchen, cocoa powder, beer, coffee, and cinnamon are some unconventional ingredients that can bring a unique twist to your dishes. Who would have thought that chocolate could complement chili so well? Or that beer could replace water or stock as the liquid in your recipes? Adding a dash of cinnamon or a hint of coffee can also elevate the flavors of your dishes to a whole new level. In this recipe article, I will provide you with detailed instructions, tips, and recommendations on how to incorporate these ingredients in your cooking. So grab your apron, and let’s get started!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Smoky Kentucky Chili recipe is a masterpiece that you just have to try. It is the perfect blend of smokiness, spiciness, and savory flavors, and it is easy to customize to your own taste preferences. Whether you are a meat lover or vegetarian, there are substitutions and variations that will work for you.

Moreover, if you are a fan of bourbon and love to experiment with bold and unique flavors in your cooking, this recipe will not disappoint. The combination of bourbon smoked paprika, chipotle hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ale adds depth and complexity to the overall flavor of the chili.

Lastly, this recipe is perfect for any occasion – from cozy nights in to hosting guests during the fall months. It can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer for later consumption. And don’t forget to pair it with your favorite side dish or cornbread for the ultimate comfort food experience.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your apron and head to the kitchen to make this delicious Smoky Kentucky Chili recipe. Your taste buds will thank you for it!

Smoky Kentucky Chili

Smoky Kentucky Chili Recipe

A uniquely Kentucky take on what is in my opinion the best winter recipe. If you can't find bourbon-smoked spices, you can substitute any kind of smoked spices. The bourbon barrel aging process adds a lovely deep almost woodsy flavor that complements the spicy flavor of the chili.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 394 kcal


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon-smoked salt
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon-smoked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon-smoked chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried chipotle powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle kentucky bourbon barrel ale
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons kentucky bourbon barrel Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce


  • In a large nonstick saute pan, brown the beef and turkey. Season with smoked salt and smoked pepper. Drain and add to a large pot or slow cooker insert.
  • In the same pan, toast the garlic with bourbon-smoked chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, smoked paprika, and turmeric until fragrant. Add to pot or slow cooker insert and stir to combine with meat mixture. Add beer, beef stock, crushed tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, Worcestershire sauce, and chipotle pepper sauce. Stir to combine.
  • Simmer on low in large pot or cook in slow cooker on low for at least 2 hours, longer if possible. Make sure to taste the chili before serving and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
  • Serve chili with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, tortilla strips, or any other toppings of your choice.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 479gCalories: 394kcalCarbohydrates: 36.5gProtein: 34.8gFat: 12.3gSaturated Fat: 3.9gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 1114.7mgFiber: 12.3gSugar: 1.1g
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