I know, I know, I JUST posted an incredible chili recipe recently, but this red chili is too good not to share, so here’s to snubbing diversification in favor of tremendous food.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law (thanks, Brad and Cass!) passed this recipe on to me a few weeks ago and the name alone was intriguing enough to want to make it right away – not to mention the fact that they made it and won first place in a chili cook-off deep in the heart of Texas.

It has a winning combination of spice and heat paired with the sweetness and tang of sun-dried tomatoes and brown sugar. This just might be my new go-to red chili recipe and I’m sure I’ll make it many more times as the weather cools down.

Just a tip: both Brad and I made the chili a day or so in advance and stored it in the refrigerator to be reheated the day of eating. Easy and flavorful!

What To ServeTortilla 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)

Sweet Heat Louisiana Chili

Sweet Heat Louisiana Chili


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed or diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound of ground meat (I used ground beef)
  • 1 quart of meat stock (I used beef but Brad and Cass used 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 beef stock)
  • 2 large cans (28 oz. each) of whole stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can of kidney red beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tsp creole or cajun seasoning blend
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt to taste


  1. Over medium heat, saute first four ingredients (onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic) in 1 tbsp of oil. Once the onions begin to sweat, add your choice of ground meat. Brown to perfection. When the meat is cooked, add the stock, bay leaves, dry mustard and cayenne. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. Rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes and dice. Puree the stewed tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Add to pot.Rinse the canned beans in plenty of water, add to the pot along with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and the cajun or creole seasoning.
  2. Mix well and simmer over low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and allow to stand covered for five minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Recipe Source: from Brad and Cassidy

54 Responses to Sweet Heat Louisiana Chili

  1. Jessica says:

    Oh yes! Made this tonight for my boyfriends work Chili cookoff tomorrow, and we had to eat some for dinner. This is probably the best chili I’ve ever had (and I found it interesting that there is zero chili powder in the recipe)! I did add a little extra creole seasoning (we like a lot of flavor)… but other than that, I followed your recipe verbatim. I’ll keep you updated regarding how he places in the competition tomorrow!

  2. Cathy says:

    I’m bringing to work for Halloween lunch….about 25 people. I’m doubling recipe and adding extra beans. Hoping this will stretch so all can eat. Do you use creole seas or Cajun? Does this chili pair well with toppings such as jalopen,cheese and sour cream? We have corn bread as a side. Making tomorrow…and reheating on low Monday in crock pot. I’m hoping everybody likes….I know it sounds scrumptious to me

  3. Stephanie says:

    I am making this Chili for a Chili cook off tomorrow, it sounds so yummy! Question, though. Do I rehydrate the oil packed tomatoes, or does that only apply if I by the ones sold in a bag? I hope that makes sense. Thanks!

  4. Molly says:

    I am going to a chili and cornbread cook-off in a couple of days, and I’m probably going to make this!

    Not to brag or anything, but I’m probably going to win the chili contest!

  5. Beth says:

    Hi Mel, I’m going to try this recipe for a party on the weekend. How many people will this feed? Just wondering if I should double it or not.

  6. Jackie says:

    This is definitely a keeper. I have been looking for a good chili recipe for years. This still isn’t quite the traditional chili I have been looking for, but definitely one we will make again.

  7. Brandie says:

    I rarely leave comments on anything, but thought I’d take a minute to thank yoy for posting such a fabulous recipe! My family inhaled almost every bite!

  8. […] SWEET HEAT LOUISIANA CHILI (adapted from Sweet Heat Louisiana Chili) […]

  9. Toni says:

    Thank you Mel for this awesome chili recipe! I made it tonight and I could have eaten the whole pot of chili all by myself! I have been meaning to write and thank you for all the delicious recipes that you have so generously shared with the world!!! I almost exclusively use your website for all my recipe “needs” which means that I have truly become a “rock star” in the kitchen because of you! Thank you!!!!

  10. Mel says:

    Jena – I haven’t tried it but I think it would be really good as long as the stew meat cooks long enough to be tender.

  11. Jena says:

    Do you think this would work okay with Stew Meat instead of ground beef?

    Thank you!

  12. Susan Gregson says:

    Excellent! We added a jalapeño for extra kick!

  13. Mel says:

    Marci – yes, that could work, although I would probably cook it on the stovetop up until the recipe says to simmer (then transfer to the slow cooker).

  14. marci says:

    Any thoughts on if I could simmer this in a crock pot? I love the idea of the chili but my pregnant nose can’t handle the thoughts of my house smelling like it so I was hoping I could stick it in a crock pot outside to let it simmer for the 2 hours. I would do all the steps up to the simmer part on the stove top

  15. Joyce says:

    Ok, so my family party that I mentioned a few weeks ago is on Sunday. I have a sun-dried tomato question. I noticed in one of your comments that you used the ones packed in oil and then drained them, right? They are SO expensive here ($5 for a little jar) that I thought I’d use the ones that aren’t packed in oil (about half the price). How do I measure them? Do I rehydrate them first and then measure 2 cups? AND, are they just as yummy as the ones packed in oil? ALSO, how exactly do I rehydrate them? 🙂 I’m very excited to make this!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Joyce – some people use the sun-dried tomatoes you referred to interchangeably. I’m sorry to hear the jarred variety are so expensive! I have to admit I prefer the taste of the jarred variety – the dehydrated ones I’ve used in the past have kind of an off-flavor to me and the ones in the jar seem to be more tart and true to flavor, but that isn’t to say the rehydrated ones won’t work. I’ve always put the dried tomatoes in a bowl of really hot water, submerged, for 15-20 minutes. Then I drain them and chop – and yes, I’d measure them after they are rehydrated. Hope you like the chili!

  16. bdubz says:

    Am making this now for my son’s going away dinner tomorrow night. Yes, he’s leaving home and that is just, ugh, heartbreaking BUT he’s leaving with a full stomach and with a cookbook full of my tried and true recipes (ok, yeah, they’re mostly yours Mel!).

  17. Joyce says:

    I’m in charge of an upcoming family party and really want to do chili. This recipe looks perfect! There are about 35 people and half of that number is children (some small, some teenagers). Anyway, I’m wondering how many pots of this would you advise I make? There will also be other stuff (salads, breadsticks, etc.) to eat as well. What do you think?

  18. Susan says:

    This chili is oustanding! It is just finishing simmering on the stove…yum! I just sampled a bite. I too used oil-packed sundried tomatoes..perfect..just drain and toss is food processor after doing tomatoes. Another website published this recipe only they used red roasted peppers instead. I think I might prefer the sundried only because of their pronounced flavor intensity that mellows in this recipe. I also used McCormick’s Cajun spice…and it was just perfect. Thank you Melanie for passing along another unique recipe for chili…one is never enough!

  19. Shannon says:

    I made this for the first time for company a couple of weeks ago in the crockpot. It was really good; I left out the cayenne and used less cajun seasoning because I didn’t want to risk it being too spicy. My friend asked for the recipe, so of course I sent her your way.

  20. Brittany says:

    Just made this for a church chili cook off and we won first place. It is sooo yummy and I guess I wasn’t the only one who though so 😉

  21. Kaitlyn says:

    I am making this Chili for the 2nd time today- I love it! It has such a unique flavor, and just the right amount of heat for my Husband and I.
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  22. Debbie says:

    It does not say what size can of black beans and kidney beans. Have tried it once and everyone loved this recipe. They would keep going back for seconds. Can you add more or less of the beans

    • Mel says:

      Debbie – yes, you can add as many beans as you like or take them out. It is a versatile recipe. The recipe calls for 15 ounce cans of beans.

  23. Melanie says:

    Coralie and Casey – thanks for the notes on less heat for this recipe. I’m glad everyone liked it!

  24. CoralieandCasey says:

    I ended up using 1/4 tsp. and it was quite mild, perfect for our kids but I think my husband and I would really like more spice. It was great nonetheless!

  25. Melanie says:

    CoralieandCasey – I haven’t tried it with less cayenne but I’m sure it would be delicious. I would just spice it up according to your tastes. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out.

  26. CoralieandCasey says:

    So have you tried this recipe yet with less cayenne? I’m going to make some up tomorrow and just wondered.

  27. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – absolutely. That’s usually the kind of sun-dried tomatoes I buy, too, so they will work just fine (just drain and chop them well).

  28. Kristin says:

    I’ve been on such a chili kick lately, I will definitely try this out and let you know how it goes.

  29. Melanie says:

    Queen B – Yay! Very glad you enjoyed this as well. I was anxious to hear the verdict after you mentioned it was simmering on the stove.

  30. Melanie says:

    Hi Brandy – well, the credit definitely is due to my brother and sister-in-law for this recipe! I’m glad the few bites you’ve tasted have been good – and bread is probably the perfect thing to help with the heat!

  31. brandy says:

    Thanks for writing back! I think for next time I will cut out the cayenne pepper all together and just stick with the cajun seasoning. I am going to go with the tomatoes and I’ll let you know how it turned out!! Honestly this chili, even though it has a HUGE kick to it, is one of the best chili’s I’ve ever had!

  32. RecipeGirl says:

    I LOVE a good chili recipe (especially during football season!). And the fact that this is a prize winner is terrific. Definitely bookmarked!!

  33. Melanie says:

    Brandy – you’ll have to let me know if/when you try it without the cayenne. I bet it will be delicious!

  34. brandy says:

    I added on more 15oz. can of stewed tomatoes and it tasted perfect!!

  35. PheMom says:

    I am definitely intrigued – I was just gearing u[ today to make a batch of chili – I may have to give this a shot. What I want to know is if your family will adopt me so I can have direct access to all the amazing recipes! 🙂 Hope you are doing great! (PS – I am going to be in your neck of the woods on the weekend of Women’s Conf – if you will be around I’d love to get together).

  36. brandy says:

    We just had dinner and my family loved the chili. But my husband said it was a little too spicy for his liking. To make it a little more mild do you think I can add anything to the already made chili? I was thinking maybe another can of tomatoes. Or maybe some more beef stock. What do you think?

  37. grace says:

    i spy sun-dried tomatoes in the recipe, so i’m immediately interested. plus, brown sugar tends to subtly improve just about everything, so this is definitely a keeper. 🙂

  38. brandy says:

    My chili is simmering now and I can NOT stop myself from going into the kitchen and stealing a bite. It is SO SO good. It’s pretty spicy (which I love) so now I’m making breadsticks to tone it down a little. Thank you for ANOTHER brillant recipe. My family thanks you!

  39. Melanie says:

    Yay, Brandy, I’m glad this worked. Thanks for letting me know!

  40. Deborah says:

    There’s no such thing as too many chili recipes, and this one sounds delicious!!

  41. Garrison Family says:

    okay so ummm im making this recipe this weekend… so i can keep it int he crock pot with family here and not worry about cooking after Bradens birthday party…. They are all whimps. So the extra 15 ounces is that just added or is that added and minus the cayenne

  42. Melanie says:

    Hi Brandy – I thought it was a bit spicy, too, which is why next time I’ll definitely cut down on the cayenne pepper, but I would say if you want to try de-spicing the already made chili, adding tomatoes or broth would work – it will thin it out and you’ll lose some of the other flavor but it would probably help to cut the heat. Let me know what you try so I know for the future!

  43. Erin says:

    Oooh, first place winners? There’s nothing that sucks me in like an award-winning recipe! Can’t wait to try it out. 🙂

  44. queen b says:

    I made this last night. FANTASTIC. Just had a bowl for breakfast, and I agree that I would make it the day before serving.YUMMA LUMMA !!!!!!!!!!! tHANK yOU.tHIS WOULD BE GREAT FOR A BIG CROWD !!

  45. Anonymous says:

    Hey there..Is it ok to use the sun dried tomatoes that come in a little jar packed with oil? Thats the kind I have on hand!Thanks!

  46. Anonymous says:

    Perfect!Thanks!btw- I have tried about 8-9 of your recipes now and they are ALL amazing! On sunday I had the Easter dinner Pork and Asparagus. Mmmmmmm.. It was the best Pork I have ever tasted!

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