This Italian sausage chili recipe is a go-to for a quick and easy weeknight dinner that is full of flavor. The perfect combination of ground beef, sweet Italian sausage, and a medley of spices makes for a delicious and filling meal that the whole family will love.
Whipping up a sweet sausage chili: the perfect Italian comfort food
Making a batch of homemade chili is always a win, in my book. It’s warm, comforting, and perfect for cooler days.
My go-to recipe has always been my classic ground beef chili, but sometimes I like to switch it up and add a twist of flavor. That’s where this sweet Italian sausage chili comes in!
It’s hearty, packed with protein and fiber, and bursting with Italian flavors. Plus, it’s super easy to make and perfect for meal prep.
Serve your family (and yourself) a bowl of this delicious chili, and watch their faces light up with joy. Trust me; you’ll thank me later!
This was a recipe from my neighbor that she always made for us growing up. I would be so happy when a bowl of Mrs. Kohler’s Sweet Sausage Chili was on the menu! It’s unlike any other chili recipe you will ever have – trust me on that!
This chili recipe combines the savory flavors of Italian sausage and bacon with a touch of sweetness from brown sugar and ketchup. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on trying this one.
Here’s a bit more about what I used:
- Sausage: For this recipe, I used sweet Italian sausage. You can also use hot Italian sausage if you want a kick of spice. You’ll need a pound.
- Ground Beef: I added a pound of ground beef to give the chili more texture and protein. I like to use 93/7 lean ground beef for a healthier option.
- Bacon: Because everything is better with bacon, right? It gives this chili a smoky undertone that pairs perfectly with the sweetness!
- Beans: For this sausage chili, I like to use two different types – kidney beans and white beans. If you don’t like those types of beans, substitute them for pinto or black beans. You can use canned or dry beans; just make sure to follow the instructions for whichever you choose.
- Tomatoes: To create the base of the chili, I used a can of crushed tomatoes. You can also use fresh tomatoes if they are in season!
- Garlic and Onions: No chili is complete without these two essential ingredients. The aroma they give off while cooking will have your mouth watering.
- Brown Sugar: This is where the sweetness factor comes in! Just a touch of brown sugar adds a depth of flavor to the Italian sausage chili. You’ll need about a 1/2 cup.
- Ketchup: Another unconventional ingredient, but trust me on this one. A small amount of ketchup gives the chili a tangy, slightly sweet taste that really takes it up a notch.
- Dijon: Just a tablespoon of Dijon mustard adds a subtle tang to the chili. You won’t even taste it, but it makes all the difference.
- Worcestershire: This is another secret ingredient that adds a depth of flavor to the chili. You’ll need just a tablespoon.
- Spices: To give the chili its distinctive flavor, I used a blend of spices, including chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. You can adjust these to your liking or add in any other spices you enjoy.
- Water: The last ingredient is just plain water. This helps to thin out the chili and create a perfect consistency. If you don’t want to use water, you can use beef or vegetable broth!
Kitchen tools required
Here’s a bit more information about what I used to make this sweet sausage chili…
- Large Dutch Oven
- Slotted Spoon
- Cutting Board and Kitchen Knife
For measuring, you will need 1/2 cup, 1 cup, 1 tablespoon, and 1 teaspoon.
How to make the best Italian sausage chili recipe
In a big ol’ Dutch oven, cook up that bacon until it’s crispy. Use a slotted spoon to let it dry on some paper towel and set it aside.
Dump out some of the bacon grease and throw in the diced white onions in the same pot. Cook until they start to become translucent for a few minutes.
Then, add in the ground beef and crumbled Italian sausage and cook it all the way through, breaking up those meat chunks.
Toss in the minced garlic and cook it for another minute.
Add in the beans, tomato, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and dijon. Mix it all up really well and stir in some water.
Sprinkle in the chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Give it a good stir.
Bring the beef and sausage chili to a boil and let it simmer for about a half hour, stirring every ten minutes.
Below are some common chili questions. Don’t see the answer you’re looking for? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post!
How should I serve a bowl of this sausage chili?
I love my chili with a little sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese and a spoonful of sour cream (or Greek yogurt). For an extra bit of spice, serve your chili with a couple of slices of fresh or pickled jalapeños.
This chili would also be delicious with some skillet cornbread on the side! Or, a side bowl of white rice.
How do I make chili thicker?
If you like a thicker chili, add a tablespoon or two of cornstarch mixed with water in the last 10 minutes of simmering. This will thicken up the sauce without altering the flavor.
Can I make this chili recipe in a slow cooker?
Absolutely! Just follow the first few steps of cooking the bacon and onions on the stovetop, then transfer everything to your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
Can I use turkey instead of beef?
Yes, you can definitely substitute ground turkey for the ground beef in this recipe. However, I highly recommend keeping the Italian sausage to get those traditional flavors.
Should I use pork sausage or chicken sausage?
Either one will work, but I personally prefer the flavor of pork sausage in this recipe. It pairs well with the spices and gives the chili a richer taste.
Can I change this chili recipe to be vegetarian?
To make this chili vegetarian, simply omit the bacon and replace the beef/Italian sausage with your choice of beans, such as black beans or chickpeas. You can also add in some additional vegetables like diced bell peppers or corn to bulk up the chili.
Check out my recipe for vegetarian chili for some more inspo!
This sweet Italian sausage chili is perfect for meal prep and leftovers! Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To freeze, let the chili cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container or bag. It will keep well for up to 3 months.
If you liked this recipe, you’ll want to try these!
Here are some of my favorite soup recipes you should make next. Enjoy!
- Easy French Onion Soup
- Creamy Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese
- Potato Sweet Corn Chowder
- Stove Top Beef Stew
- Best Minestrone Soup Recipe
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment below and let me know how it was! Also tag @erinliveswhole on Instagram and use the hashtag #erinliveswhole so I can see it and feature you!
Recipe by Erin Morrissey and Photos by The Mindful Hapa
- 8 strips bacon, diced
- 1lb ground beef
- 1lb sweet italian sausage
- 1 white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 32oz kidney beans, drained
- 32oz white beans, drained
- 28oz crushed tomato
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire
- 1 tbsp dijon
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, let dry on paper towel. Set aside. Empty bacon grease.
- Add white onion to dutch oven and cook 2 minutes. Then add in ground beef and Italian sausage and saute until fully cooked through, breaking up chunks of meat.
- Stir in minced garlic and cook an additional minute.
- Add in beans, tomato, ketchup, brown sugar, worcestershire, and dijon. Mix until well combined. Stir in water.
- Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir. Then add bacon crumbles.
- Bring chili to a simmer, and simmer for 1/2 hour, stirring every ten minutes. Add more water if needed.
- Serve with cheese & sour cream or greek yogurt.
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