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Spicy Beef Chili Recipe – Plus Vegetarian Version and Wine Pairing

chili winter recipes

As cooler weather rolls in, most of us default to recipes that elicit feelings of warmth and comfort. For us at Coravin, one of those go-to recipes is a classic bowl of chili. Below, we share our spicy beef chili recipe that can easily be made vegan, plus the perfect wine to pair with both variations.

What makes a good chili?

Is it the spicy spices, the deep tomato flavor, or a squeeze of lime? For some chili masters, it’s a splash of dry sherry, cornmeal, cola, or chocolate that makes a chili great. Whether you have a special secret ingredient or not, we can all agree that a good chili has a hearty texture, a touch of chili spice, a tiny bit of sweetness, and goes well with a splash of citrus.

Which wine pairs best with chili?

California Zinfandel has long been a pairing partner to the spicy overtones of chili, despite the wine’s higher alcohol content (a classic no-no with heat). Why? The fat in the beef quells the ethanol’s warmth, while the sweetness in the wine’s ripe fruit soothes the cayenne’s heat. It’s a yin-yang harmony. If you’re cooking up our less fatty vegetarian chili recipe, Sauvignon blanc is also a great choice.

Pour a glass and let’s get cooking.

around the table coravin wine

Spicy Beef Chili Recipe

To make this spicy beef chili recipe vegetarian-friendly, even vegan-friendly, all you need to do is swap the beef for firm tofu. It’ll lend a similar texture and the tofu will absorb all of the flavors of the chili without the oily residue that beef leaves behind. We can’t pick favorites – they’re both good!


  • 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 pounds ground beef (80/20) or firm tofu

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 2-3 Tbsp chili powder

  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes

  • 1 Tbsp honey

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney, pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed

  • sour cream or Greek yogurt (for garnish)

  • chopped scallions (for garnish)


  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add tomato paste and cook until slightly caramelized, 2 minutes.

  2. Add ground beef (or tofu) and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper. Cook for another 4 minutes until soft. Add chili powder, cumin, and cayenne (optional). Stir to mix, cooking for 2 minutes.

  3. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, honey, and salt. Cover with lid, and let cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and mix in beans. Cook another ten minutes on medium, heating beans through and melding flavors.

  4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt) and scallions.

Making this spicy beef or vegetarian chili at home? Tag us on social, @coravin.