Smoky and Sweet Chili |

Smoky and Sweet Chili

This post was originally published here October 8, 2015. I’ve since updated the text and photographs. This maple syrup-sweetened chili is a favorite recipe of mine from Katie Webster’s cookbook, Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup. If you love maple syrup, you should go check it out!

I’m steadily working on my Fall to-do list. Apple picking, foliage peeping, leaf raking (the to-do list isn’t all fun and games) and of course, soup making.

While I was initially treading lightly on the cold-weather recipes, I’ve since turned a corner. We had a couple of chilly mornings this past week, and that was all I needed to help put me in the mood for more hearty, comforting dishes.

I was a VERY picky eater as a child. And chili was definitely NOT on the list of approved items. So I spent most of my adulthood thinking that I didn’t really like chili. That is until this Smoky and Sweet Chili from Katie Webster’s cookbook, Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup, entered my life. The generous addition of maple syrup is what first drew me in (like the true New Englander that I am!). And the warm and smoky spices are what made me stay. I’ve been making it religiously ever since.

Smoky and Sweet Chili |

There are plenty of chili recipes out there that take hours to prepare. But thankfully, this Smoky and Sweet Chili isn’t one of them. This recipe can be made in about 35 minutes. And all you need is one big pot. It’s very streamlined and straightforward. Which I really appreciate. Especially when it comes to a weeknight dinner option.

I’m guessing I don’t need to say this next part, but a gentle reminder wouldn’t hurt. Please use 100% pure maple syrup for this recipe (and that’s true for all the recipes here). You’ll know if the maple syrup you’re buying is 100% pure if that’s the only ingredient listed on the bottle. Simple as that.

I’ve made this chili with both ground beef and ground turkey. And I like both versions equally. If you use ground turkey, I suggest adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil for the browning, since it’s typically leaner than ground beef.

This Smoky and Sweet Chili would be great for a pre-trick-or-treating meal. It’s got good staying power! If you try it, please let me know!



Smoky and Sweet Chili

Smoky and Sweet Chili

At a Glance:
Yield: Serves about 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


For the Chili:

  • 1 lb ground beef (can substitute ground turkey or chicken)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

For Topping:

  • Diced avocado
  • Fresh cilantro, minced
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño pepper
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Corn chips


  1. In a large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat, cook the beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, until it’s completely browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked beef to a clean bowl and set it aside.
  2. Return the pot to the heat and add the onion, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and starting to brown, about 7-10 minutes. If the pot is getting too dry, you can add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika and chipotle powder and stir to coat everything in the spices. Cook, stirringly frequently, for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and cook until the liquid is evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Add the water and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  4. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, kidney beans, maple syrup and the reserved cooked beef. Bring the chili to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cilantro.
  5. To serve, ladle the warm chili into bowls and top as desired. 
  6. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days.


54 comments on “Smoky and Sweet Chili”

  1. Thank you so very much Liz. Love the review and that you chose this chili recipe. I have made it so many times since first working on it for the book. I even have made it with venison, and in the slow cooker. I am so glad you were able to share this with your readers too.

  2. I want this cookbook!!!! 🙂 And dude, gimme all the smoky and sweet turkey chili come winter time. I love this! My fave way to enjoy pure maple syrup? on pancakes, waffles or with BACON. 🙂

  3. Wowza, an ENTIRE book dedicated to pure maple syrup? Talk about heaven on pages! I never enter giveaways, because I feel weird.. Like I’m on your site because I adore you, not because I want free stuff. But, I entered this one 🙂 I couldn’t help myself. Regardless of the win, I AM purchasing this book! Anyways, I am seriously drooling over this chili!! I love that it is smoky and sweet! Plus it uses turkey, my favorite for chilis AND maple syrup. Gahh! I could seriously gobble up a vat of this in .5 seconds flat! Pinned! Cheers, girlfriend! xo

    • Well, I’ll cross my fingers for you that you win! But glad you’d buy it anyway. It’s a fabulous cookbook! I know you’ll love it!

  4. This book sounds awesome! I love to use maple syrup in cooking and baking (and cocktails). Those maple ginger chicken thighs you mentioned are calling my name. 😉

  5. I’m ALL about the maple syrup all the dang time! I’m also with Sara, alll the cockies (short for cocktails? Or too weird?)

  6. Maple syrup is just the best and I don’t use it often enough in savory recipes- awesome cookbook!

  7. Being Canadian, maple syrup pretty much runs in my blood, so needless to say, I’m totally loving both this book and this awesome chili!!

  8. Maple syrup? Sounds interesting, I should try sometime 🙂

    • You should totally try it!

    • Hi Liz—5 stars for your Smoky and Sweet Chili….so, so good. I’ve never made chili before using maple syrup and I think it made a wonderful difference. The spices and the sweetness all play off one another really well.
      I’m teed up to make your poached pear salad for a special dinner tomorrow…..hoping that goes as well as the chili did.
      I’m late to your website and instagram but so glad I came across you. 
      One more shout out for your book recommendations you frequently include on your instagram. I’ve gone to them more than once when I’m considering something to read.

      • Hi Judy! I love hearing all of this. So glad you found me and are enjoying the recipes (and the books!).

  9. Ooooh, I’ve not tried MS in chili, but I can just imagine the sweet against the spicy.. and I louuuuve spicy! So fun to meet blogging friends in person – what a great opportunity, Liz! And this book. Looking forward to seeing all the inspiring recipes Katie created! Thank you for sharing and this fantastic giveaway!

  10. My favorite way to use syrup is with good old fashioned pancakes or granola!

  11. Obviously I’ve missed the boat because I’ve never added maple syrup to my chili, and clearly that sounds DELISH! Have to try! Thanks for sharing Liz.

  12. Liz, this is one gorgeous bowl of chili. I love the added natural sweetness from the maple syrup. Pinned!

  13. This book looks really beautiful and I love the concept!!

  14. Liz- I love your gorgeous photos! And I love Katie’s book too! I’m sharing a recipe and giving away a copy on my blog tomorrow 😉 This chili looks so incredible! I love the idea of a little sweet with my smoky!

  15. Maple syrup is liquid gold — it’s one of my favorite ingredients to use. Adding it to chili is just genius, and these flavors sound just incredible. I would love this chili and that cookbook!

  16. Maple syrup is so like liquid gold!! I use it in so many things and always make sure I have a huge bottle of it on hand! Chili season is finally here and this chili looks amazing!! And I love your photos so much 🙂

  17. I am so excited to make this chili! (Huge chili fan over here.) I could now see how maple syrup could give a nice balance in a dish like this. Never would have though. Definitely going to have to check out Katie’s new book. Love your photos… seriously making my mouth water! (What a great giveaway, too!)

  18. Given that TWO of my favorite blog friends made this exact recipe recently, it’s obvious that I have to figure out how to veg-ize it!! Drooling over here.

  19. I love it on gluten free waffles.

  20. I love my syrup with PW’s sour cream pancakes!!!

  21. thanks for sharing the recipe!

  22. I love using Maple Syrup as a glaze. It could be for ham, chicken…. even BACON!!!!! I love adding maple syrup to bacon to give it a deliciously sweet smokey flavor.

    I also love to use it in a marinade for roasted brussel sprouts! I mix maple syrup with oil and soy sauce, marinade for a few minutes, then roast in the oven. sooooooooo good!

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  25. This is the best chili I’ve ever made. I’m a 39-year-old homemaker with a husband and three sons to feed. I’ve made A LOT of different chili recipes throughout the decades. I am not being kind or cute when I say this is literally the best one ever. The flavors are phenomenal. Thank you so much for this gold medal winner. I’m sold!

  26. Do you have the macros for this recipe? Calories, protein, etc.??

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