tailgating chili

Serve Up the Best Tailgating Chili Recipe That Everyone Will Love

Can’t decide what to bring to your next tailgate? This is our best tailgating chili recipe that will have everyone coming back for more. Full recipe available below and on YouTube here.

5 min. Prep
20 min. Cook
25 min. Total
6 Servings




olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add finely minced garlic and chopped onion.



Cook for 5-10 minutes until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant, stir frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn.


ground beef

Add ground beef and cook until completely browned.


Rinse and dry beans and add to Dutch oven



Pour in San Marzano hand-crushed tomatoes and stir thoroughly.


chili powder

Reduce heat to simmer and add salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste.


Cook for at least 20 minutes and for up to 2 hours careful never to let the chili boil.


sour cream

Serve with sour cream and cheddar cheese as toppings

Why Tailgating Chili Is a Staple in My Kitchen

Hope Pierotti

This is a chili recipe I have been eating for as long as I can remember. My mom used to make this all the time as an east weeknight meal growing up and since I’ve come to college, I’ve introduced it to my friends. I lived with 3 girls last year and this was by far the most requested meal. The second it got the tiniest bit chilly outside my roommates were begging me to make this delicious tailgating chili recipe before a game.

The best thing about this tailgating chili recipe is how adaptable it is. The traditional recipe my mom passed down to me used kidney beans and black beans, but I didn’t have any on hand when I decided to make this recipe so I subbed the kidney beans for cannellini beans and the chili was still fantastic.

If you wanted to be a bit healthier when you make this tailgating chili recipe you could consider substituting the ground beef for ground turkey although I don’t think this is necessary as the recipe is pretty healthy to begin with. Whenever I make this tailgating chili I add loads of chili powder, but again that’s just personal preference and an adjustment you can make. If you dislike spicy things, don’t add as much chili powder.

Football Games Love This Tailgating Chili Recipe

When you think of tailgating food your brain might instantly move towards hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, etc. Those are all great to bring along for a party, but the real best tailgating food is chili. This tailgating chili recipe is the easiest and best chili recipe around because you can prep it in advance of your next game day and it doesn’t require too much attention to cook.

Chili is an easy party food or dinner to whip up because you probably already have most of the requirements in your pantry. This tailgating chili recipe has 7 common and simple ingredients and it can be made in just 30 minutes. Although, the longer you leave it to simmer the better it tastes. So, while it might seem like it takes a while, all you have to do is throw everything in a big pot and let the flavors marinate together over low heat. Our recommended cast iron pot that you can cook and serve with is Hearth & Hand from Target.

I love this tailgating chili recipe so much for those slightly colder football games. October and November games get a bit cold and there’s nothing better to warm you up than a nice bowl of chili. Now, of course, you can scoop your chili in a bowl and serve as is, but I like to doctor my tailgating chili up a bit before serving. 

ALSO READ: Ultimate Guilt-Free Spicy Margarita Mocktail Recipe

The options for garnishes are endless, but there are a few things I like to do each time. I always add a generous dollop of sour cream right in the center of my tailgating chili and a big heap of cheddar cheese. Sometimes I mix this into my chili, but often I leave it on top and take a small scoop with each spoonful of chili. I also love to garnish with some finely chopped green onions. When you’re tailgating, it’s best to re-heat your pre-made chili over a small, portable gas burner. Then, you can have these toppings on the side with disposable paper or plastic bowls to serve.

Be sure to watch our YouTube clip to get the full recipe experience and subscribe to the Student Recipes YouTube channel for more.