Red Homemade Beer Chili in White Soup Bowl

So, anyone who reads my personal blog, The Frugal Farmer, knows that I LOVE to cook. As such, I’ve been on a mission for years to come up with a chili recipe that would WOW my family and have always come up short.

To put it more bluntly, my chili sucked. It was boring. Bland. Without pizzazz.

This has been bothering me for years, so when Deacon mentioned that he’d love to have a great chili recipe on the site, I kicked up my search to fulfill my dream of making great chili once and for all. But besides great taste, there was one qualification the chili recipe had to have: it had to be inexpensive. My family and I are always working to save money on groceries. Right now, we feed our family of six for about $400-$450 a month.

So off I was on a quest to find a terrific chili recipe that didn’t break the bank. After trying several different recipes, I finally came up with one that got the seal of approval from the family, and I’m sharing it with you today.

Cheap and Delicious Beer Chili

There’s something about adding beer to chili that really makes it perk up. Personally, we don’t drink so we add non-alcoholic beer, but any alcohol added from a regular beer will likely cook out during the simmering process anyway, so whatever your pleasure as far as the beer portion of the recipe is concerned. Also, we use a light or medium beer, but an amber beer would also be a great addition to this recipe if you like the heavier flavor.

This is a medium-heat chili that can be ramped up by adding more Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper or additional peppers such as Jalapeno or Habanero. Personally, my husband would’ve added extra spices or peppers because he likes his chili really, really hot, but me and the kids found it about as hot as we could bear. Not too spicy, but we definitely would not have added any more “hot”.


  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1-2 pounds meat of your choice (we use a pound of Jimmy Dean sausage and a pound of shredded, seasoned roast beef [with the broth, from leftovers to save money], but you can use plain hamburger, chopped sirloin, bacon, ground turkey or any other meat that suits your fancy)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 1- 15 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 – 12 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 2 or 3 cans of pinto or kidney beans
  • 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 bottle beer of your choice (we prefer a light to medium beer, such as Michelob Golden Draft Light or O’Doul’s regular)

Cooking Directions

Add olive oil to a large pot. Heat on medium heat for just a minute or so and add in onion, pepper, celery and any meat that isn’t already cooked. Chop the meat and cook well until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the vegetables are tender.

Add all other ingredient except for the beer and stir thoroughly. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add the beer, mix well and simmer for another 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Topping Suggestions: any of the usual chili toppings such as cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions will work well with this chili.

The Cost

Here’s the cost breakdown of the chili.

  • 1 pound sausage, $3.50
  • 1 pound seasoned roast beef: $3.50
  • 1 green pepper: $0.88
  • 1 onion, $0.25
  • garlic, $0.39
  • celery, 2 stalks .20
  • tomato sauce, $0.44
  • tomato paste, $0.92
  • diced tomatoes, $0.98
  • 2 cans kidney beans, $1.44
  • spices, $1.00 (estimate)
  • 1 bottle beer, $1.00

Total cost: $14.50/$7.25 per meal to feed 6 people

How Much it Feeds

This pot of chili fed our family of six two times, which means we got 12 servings out of the pot. Obviously, if your guests eat bigger portions you may only feed a total of eight servings, but even at 8 or 10 servings you’re paying less than $2 per serving.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Do you have a chili or soup recipe that you’ve perfected? 

*Image credit: Flickr