This delicious sweet heat Louisiana chili is sweet and spicy with the perfect tanginess (thanks to the sun-dried tomatoes). It is phenomenal!

While strongly in the “red chili” category, this cajun-spiced chili is so unique and flavorful, it is bound to become a new favorite! (Plus, it manages to win chili cook-off after chili cook-off.)

Red chili with beans and ground beef in gray bowl topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, and crushed corn chips.

Building Blocks of Chili Flavor

This chili starts off by cooking these ingredients together:

  • celery
  • garlic
  • onion
  • ground beef

After the meat has been browned, the following ingredients are added to further build amazing flavor:

  • beef broth
  • dry mustard
  • bay leaves
  • cayenne pepper
  • cajun or creole seasoning
  • stewed tomatoes
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • kidney beans + black beans
  • balsamic vinegar

There is a lot going on in this chili. And every single ingredient contributes something important to the overall flavor. It is complex in the best way and so yummy!

Make It Ahead of Time

The chili simmers for a full two hours. This is essential for the flavors to blend, so don’t skimp on this step! It also reduces the chili so it is thick and hearty.

While you absolutely can serve this chili after it has finished cooking, it is infinitely more delicious one (or even two) days later.

The sweet, tangy, spicy flavors have time to settle in and mingle, and once reheated, it is a literal explosion of chili perfection.

Red chili with ground beef and beans in white cast iron pot with ladle.

A Chili Cook-Off Winner

My brother- and sister-in-law, Brad and Cassidy, sent me this sweet heat Louisiana chili recipe over ten years ago after making it and winning a huge chili cook-off. I have been making it ever since, and can’t get over the distinctive, amazing flavors.

It is one of the most delicious chili recipes ever! And so many of you agree:

JoAnna says: One of my all time favorite recipes on here.  Has an incredible and unique flavor. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sydney says: This is my all time favorite chili recipe. Seriously. It’s that good. I’ve tried a lot of recipes on this site and others but nothing pleases a crowd —or an individual — quite like Louisiana Sweet Heat chili. Do yourself a favor and kick off fall with this flawless find. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Randy says: This is a great break from traditional chili recipe’s and very delicious. We added an extra can of beans which made the stock amount perfect. Thank you!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Shar says: Made this for our chili cookoff at work. I’d never made chili before. I won second place! This was absolutely delicious! My husband immediately perked up when I said I was making it again for dinner! Haha! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Red chili with ground beef and beans in gray bowl.

What To Serve With This:

Tortilla chips (for crushing over the soup or just for dipping)
Fresh, seasonal fruit or this fruit salad
Simple green salad (or something more fancy like this Asiago Crisped Spinach and Raspberry Salad)

Red chili with spoonful in gray bowl with sour cream, green onions, and crushed corn chips.

Sweet Heat Louisiana Chili

4.63 stars (48 ratings)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, small diced
  • 3 stalks celery, small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 4 cups beef broth or stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cans (28-ounces each) whole stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15-ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes (see note)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon creole or cajun seasoning blend
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


  • In a 5- or 6-quart pot set over medium heat, heat olive oil until hot and rippling. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onions start to soften.
  • Add the ground meat and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain excess grease.
  • Add beef broth or stock, bay leaves, dry mustard and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half (give or take). If it doesn't noticeably reduce after about 25 minutes, proceed with the recipe.
  • Puree the stewed tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Add to the pot with the beans, sun-dried tomatoes, brown sugar, creole or cajun seasoning, and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low for two hours, stirring occasionally and moderating heat as needed. Remove from heat. Taste and add salt, if needed (this is important!). This chili tastes even better a day or two after it is made. It can be reheated in a slow cooker or on the stovetop.


Sun-Dried Tomatoes: I use jarred sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe. Drain and lightly rinse the sun-dried tomatoes before chopping. The original recipe called for two cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Over the years, I’ve reduced that to one cup, based on personal preference, but you can add the full two cups, if you prefer. You can also use sun-dried tomatoes that need to be rehydrated. Simply rehydrate, chop, measure, and use in the recipe.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 432kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 763mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 18g

Recipe Source: from my brother- and sister-in-law, Brad and Cassidy G.

Originally posted September 2008; updated February 2024 with new photos, recipe notes, etc.

White bowl with chili topped with sour cream and cheese.