Dutch Oven Chili: Secret Family Recipe Revealed

When you are looking for hearty Dutch oven camping recipes to feed a crowd, think of soups, stews and chili recipes. Rick’s amazingly delicious Dutch Oven Chili is made with a homemade spice blend combined with ground beef, Italian sausage and a touch of beer that is cooked low and slow to build up a mind-blowing flavor profile you can’t stop eating!

I make an award-winning Campfire Dutch Oven Chili Recipe but it is not as popular with my family as my brother-in-law’s secret family recipe. Why have I not shared his recipe with you? Because, he kept it hush-hush … until now!

Dutch Oven Chili Recipe by CampingForFoodies features a blue camp bowl filled with beef chili topped with freshly made cornbread. In the background are two camp Dutch ovens, one filled with campfire chili, another filled with jalapeno cornbread.

Prep To Make Rick’s Chili Outside

When you are making camping chili recipes that have a lot of spices, it is easiest to measure and mix the ingredients at home so you can just dump them into the pot at the campsite.

The list of spices is pretty long for this incredibly tasty meal … but … they are all readily available simple ingredients. Measure them at home, then, just place them in a plastic food container or sealable bag with a label “chili mix” and you’re done.

This magic spice blend contains chili powder, dried oregano, ground cumin, dried basil, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, white sugar and beef bouillon cubes.

You’ll also need to chop some veggies and aromatics including a bit of onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and garlic.

Methods Of Cooking The Best Dutch Oven Chili Recipe

If you are making this as one of our campfire recipes, you’ll need to get your fire going in order to cook over coals (rather than flames) … but you can also use charcoal briquettes as the heat source.

Camp Cooking Tip: This recipe needs to simmer for at least 2 hours so be prepared to keep adding charcoal briquettes or logs to your campfire to keep the heat going for a longer-than-normal camp meal cooking time.

You can also make this as one of our camp stove recipes so get your stove ready for cooking on a level surface and make sure you have an ample amount of propane to simmer this recipe for a minimum of two hours.

Best Pot For Chili

As a campfire chili dinner, you’ll want to use a Dutch oven cast iron camping chili pot.

The most popular size Dutch oven is a standard classic depth 12-inch oven that holds 6 quarts … that’s what Rick used, and, as you can see in the video, this recipe fills that pot.

If you have a 12-inch deep Dutch oven that holds 8 quarts, that is a better choice.

Camp Chef 12-Inch Classic Depth Dutch Oven, 6 Quart CapacityCamp Chef 12-Inch Classic Depth Dutch Oven, 6 Quart CapacityCamp Chef 12-Inch Classic Depth Dutch Oven, 6 Quart CapacityCamp Chef 12-Inch Deep Dutch Oven, 8 Quart CapacityCamp Chef 12-Inch Deep Dutch Oven, 8 Quart CapacityCamp Chef 12-Inch Deep Dutch Oven, 8 Quart Capacity


Because chili is one of those easy camping meals for large groups, you can scale this recipe up to feed a big crowd but you’ll need to increase the size of the cooking pot or use multiple pots.

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Cast Iron Dutch Oven Size Capacities

8 Inch Classic2 Quarts8 Cups
10 Inch Classic4 Quarts16 Cups
10 Inch Deep5 Quarts20 Cups
12 Inch Classic6 Quarts24 Cups
12 Inch Deep8 Quarts32 Cups
14 Inch Classic8 Quarts32 Cups
14 Inch Deep10 Quarts40 Cups
16 Inch Classic12 Quarts48 Cups

If you’re thinking about a new oven but are not sure which direction to go, we can help you answer the question, “What size Dutch oven should I buy for camping?”

If you are making this chili Dutch oven stovetop-style, you can use any type of Dutch oven or stove-top friendly large pot, just make sure it holds at least 6 quarts and has a tight-fitting lid.

Steps For Cooking Chili In A Dutch Oven

Step 1. Prepare ingredients as directed. Just as with all camping dinner recipes, you should prepare your ingredients as directed to make the actual cooking process simple.

Step 2. Prepare your heat source. You will initially be using a medium-high heat and eventually will be reducing to a medium-low heat.

Step 3. Brown the meat. This is one of those Dutch oven beef chili recipes that uses a 2-to-1 ratio of ground beef to ground pork but you’ll also add a few strips of bacon (high fat meats make this a great keto camping food option). You are just lightly browning all of the meat now, it will get fully cooked during the simmering process.

Step 4. Add the veggies, spices and liquids. Now it is time to add all of the vegetables and aromatics you prepped earlier. Give it a good stir and then add the spice mix, beans and liquid ingredients. NOTE: This recipe only calls for 3/4 cup of beer so it is the chef’s privilege to guzzle the remainder of the bottle. LOL

Step 5. Cover and simmer. It is time to reduce the heat so you are cooking this chili low and slow. Bring the heat down to medium-low, add the cover and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours. (Two hours is not a long time compared to our Smoked Ground Beef Chili that cooks for 5 hours in a portable tailgate smoker!)

Camp Cooking Tip: If you are using a Dutch oven tripod, you can regulate the heat by positioning the chain of the tripod to move the Dutch oven closer to, or further away from the campfire coals to raise and lower the cooking temperature.

Step 6. Serve hot. If you want to add toppings, you may consider cornbread, cheddar cheese, onions, jalapeno peppers and sour cream.

Pairings For Dutch Oven Campfire Chili Dinner

We have simple and delicious camping side dishes you may want to try with this chili. You really could eat just a bowl (or two) of chili but you may want to serve it with a nice crusty bread or have the traditional Dutch oven cornbread and chili combination.

Similar Dutch Camping Oven Chili Recipes

There are so many more winter camping recipes like this chili you may want to try.

  • Want a white version? Try this Campfire White Chili Recipe that is made with ground turkey, white beans and chicken broth.
  • Thinking white chili sounds good but don’t want turkey? Try this Dutch Oven White Chicken Chili that uses cubed chicken breast meat. The rich and creamy texture comes from cream cheese.
  • When you throw in a tbsp chili powder and a tsp or 2 of garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano and cayenne pepper, even canned chicken tastes amazing! This Spicy Chicken And Corn Chili Camping Recipe uses all non-perishable canned ingredients which is great when you are short on refrigerator space!
  • Looking for an alternative to chili but still want something warm and hearty? Try this Campfire Stew that creates fork-tender beef along with potatoes and carrots that are simmered in a beef broth tomato sauce making a yummy one pot meal.
  • Try this Hot Italian Sausage Camping Soup with warm and crusty bread for a hot and satisfying dinner.
  • I’ll admit a loaf of meat is not chili … but, this one is too good to pass up! This Dutch Oven Meatloaf is also called: Bacon-Topped Best Meatloaf Recipe Ever! It combines ground beef, Italian sausage, strips of bacon and a simple homemade glaze to make a FANTASTIC dinner. Check out all of my yummy ground beef camping recipes.


If you have leftover chili, store it in the refrigerator and reinvent the leftovers for easy meals.

  • Use it to make these simple Campfire Chili Cheese Fries.
  • Create a new taste by adding some Mexican flavors and making nachos. Reheat some chili, with some black beans, chipotle peppers (dice the chipotles), spoon over tortilla chips and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Cover and place over medium heat until the cheese melts.
  • One of the best ways to use chili con carne is to spoon it over hotdogs. Just toast the buns and grill the hot dog until it is charred and warmed through, then top with reheated chili and a few diced onions.

Use my camping menu planner to stay organized when planning meals for your next trip. It’s FREE and you’ll get it delivered instantly to your inbox!

Camping Menu Template Meal Planner Free Printable by CampingForFoodies features a collage of free camping printables including a camping menu planner template, a campfire stew recipe card and a healthy no cook camping salad with text over the image that reads free camping menu template, tips and recipe ideas.

Watch How To Make It Recipe

Dutch Oven Chili Recipe by CampingForFoodies features a blue camp bowl filled with beef chili topped with freshly made cornbread. In the background are two camp Dutch ovens, one filled with campfire chili, another filled with jalapeno cornbread.

Camping Dutch Oven Chili Recipe

Camping For Foodies Soups, Stews & Chili Recipes: Camping Dutch Oven Chili Recipe
4.79 from 19 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soups, Stews & Chili
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
Calories: 477kcal
Author: Kim Hanna



  • 3 bacon slices chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage


  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced

Spices Can Be Measured & Mixed At Home

  • 1/4 cup chili powder*
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin*
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil*
  • 1 teaspoon salt*
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper*
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
  • 1 teaspoon paprika*
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar*
  • 4 cubes beef bouillon*

Canned & Liquids

  • 2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can hot chili beans in sauce
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup beer (may substitute beef broth)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

Optional Toppings

  • Cornbread
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Diced onions
  • Sliced jalapeno peppers
  • Sour cream


  • Ingredients marked with * can be measured and mixed at home.
  • Heat a 12-inch Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Note: a 12-inch classic standard depth 6 quart Dutch oven will work but it is a little tight for this recipe, a 12-inch deep 8 quart Dutch oven or a 14-inch classic standard depth Dutch oven is better.
  • Add the bacon to the pot and cook until it just begins to soften then add the ground beef and Italian sausage, stirring to break up the meat as it cooks. Continue cooking until the meat is lightly browned.
  • Add the onion, celery, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and garlic, stirring until combined.
  • Add the spice mixture including the chili powder, oregano, cumin, basil, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, white sugar and bouillon, stirring until combined.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, kidney beans and chili beans, stirring until combined.
  • Add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly to distribute the paste throughout the chili.
  • Now add the beer, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce, stirring until combined. NOTE: This recipe only calls for 3/4 cup of beer so the remainder of the bottle is reserved for the hard-working chef. LOL If you don’t want to use alcohol just substitute beef broth or water.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Camp Cooking Tip: When using a Dutch oven tripod, regulate the heat by positioning the chain of the tripod to move the Dutch oven closer to, or further away from the campfire coals to maintain the proper temperature.
  • Serve hot. Optional toppings include corn bread, cheddar cheese, onions, jalapeno peppers and sour cream. Try our delicious Dutch Oven Jalapeno Cornbread that has a little kick! https://www.campingforfoodies.com/campfire-dutch-oven-jalapeno-cornbread-camping-recipe/


Serving: 1g | Calories: 477kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 1332mg | Potassium: 796mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2648IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 5mg

What do you think?

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  1. Appreciate the info and recipe. This looks like a great one to enjoy on a brisk lazy day at camp. Your posts give us a lot of great ideas. I really like the one that guy did on the awning tie down hack. I think it saved me a couple times when we had a couple strong wind gusts. Might have been after the chili.

    1. Kim Hanna says:

      Hi Willy, You’re correct, this recipe is great for brisk lazy days at camp. I’ll let the awning tie down hack guy (aka, my husband) know how much you appreciate his tips! Happy Camping, Kim

  2. This video is the quintessential look into having fun while cooking at camp! I absolutely can’t wait to try this chili. It has more ingredients than my standard recipe and looks like they’ll make excellent additions. Super easy suggestion to mix it all up at home instead of lugging all the spice bottles. Love that! We’re camping next weekend and this and the cornbread are on our menu!

    1. Kim Hanna says:

      Hi Alexis, Thanks for the kind words about the video. I normally do most of the cooking and it was really fun for me to watch someone else enjoy being the camp chef for the day! Enjoy your camp trip next weekend and Rick’s special Dutch oven chili recipe and the cornbread!