Easy Homemade Firecracker Cinnamon Chili

8 Servings
6 hr 20 min

This is a unique, spicy (but not hot), easy Cinnamon Chili recipe that is the perfect chilly night meal! Firecracker chili is an award winning family and neighbor favorite!


While this Firecracker Cinnamon chili sounds hot, it is NOT! Typical spices are used with the addition of Cinnamon and cloves! Wow, this is a great chili! A great make-ahead meal for Halloween, football games, fall dinners or anytime you need a BIG OL POT OF GOODNESS!

CINNAMON IN CHILI?

So what is this secret ingredient, or ingredients? It’s CINNAMON and cloves! Yes, putting cinnamon in your chili enhances it in tremendous ways.


Much like adding chili powder and other common chili spices, cinnamon is a super versatile spice that adds warmth without the heat.

On a chilly day, after a long day of skiing, trick-or-treating, relaxing, sledding, or working…there is nothing like a crock pot hanging out doing it’s thang, filling the air with amazing spices like this unique, warming chili. 


I’ve added all sorts of things to Firecracker chili; try adding pumpkin puree, shredded zucchini and carrots — sneaking in some healthy veggies, or make it with ground chicken, turkey, elk or my favorite bison!


What Makes the Best Chili?

The ultimate chili should:


  1. Have a rich, complex chili flavor that combines sweet, bitter, hot, fresh, and fruity elements in balance.
  2. Have a robust, meaty, beefy flavor.
  3. Assuming that it contains beans, have beans that are tender, creamy, and intact.
  4. Be bound together by a thick, deep-red sauce.


Heat a good sized pan nice and hot (about medium-high) and toss in your ground beef. Love my cast iron pans!

In the same pan you browned your meat in, add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, toss chopped onion and sauté for several (6-8) minutes until soft and a nice caramel color, once soft, add your garlic stirring until fragrant about a minute.


NOTE | Depending on my mood, I will brown my onions and garlic first, adding the spices to bloom and THEN brown my beef in the same pan! So it soaks up all those yummy flavors! 


While your onions are sautéing, pour your can of diced tomatoes (regular, unsalted, roasted, whatever you have in your pantry!) into the crockpot.

Next add paprika (I LOOOOVEEE smoked paprika), sea salt, cumin and oregano. Adjust the spices to your tastes, I’m not a huge fan of cumin, so I tend to put a scant teaspoon in, whereas, I love paprika so it’s quite a few shakes for me!


Mix it all around and add the spices to your soft and caramelized onions, stirring over low heat for a minute. This really “blooms” the spices allowing the flavors to come alive!

Next add fresh parsley. Don’t have fresh? Don’t worry just toss in a small handful of dried.

For me, this is the best part of the chili, a can of black olives with their liquid!

What Veggies Are Good to Add to Chili?

These next few items are optional, but they sure do add some great nutrition and fiber to your chili, sneaking some nutrient veggies in for picky eaters! The great part is they will not see or taste them as it cooks into the chili.


  • We’ll start with zucchini, I grated one medium sized zucchini.
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Canned Pumpkin

All melt into the chili over the hours practically in disguise!!

That’s it, now stir it all around and place the lid on the crock pot or soup pot, set the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours (it can go longer if needed, just add a ½ cup of additional water before covering it). You may also cook on high for 4 hours. 


Crockpot vs. Stovetop

Does not matter, either way works! Both are delicious, I just recommend you are around all day if making on your stovetop, fire safety and all.


Stovetop | Simmer on low for 3-4 hours, if it starts drying out, add a ½ cup of hot water and stir it in.

Once it’s finished, give it a good stir, taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.


Can I Freeze Cinnamon Chili?

Yes! I freeze our leftovers all the time. A few suggestions.


  • Cool completely before freezing, if still warm, condensation builds, causing ice, ice and frozen foods = freezer burn!
  • Freeze in individual sized portions, they make great microwavable portions.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie, laying flat for optimum freezer space.
  • Thaw overnight in fridge, heat on stovetop or even on low for an hour or so in slow cooker.
  • Or line your slow cooker, then freeze directly in the insert. Remove after solid and wrap well, then when ready to reheat, remove liner and plunk back into crockpot and heat on low 2-4 hours.
  • Lasts in freezer up to 3-4 months!


Scoop into bowls and top with your favorite toppings. We love sour cream, corn chips and a little shredded cheese. And don’t forget the corn bread, like this Sweet Buttermilk Corn Bread or these to die for Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.


For more great recipes, visit www.thefreshcooky.com

Easy Homemade Firecracker Cinnamon Chili

Recipe details

  • 8  Servings
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 6 Hours Total time: 6 hr 20 min
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Ingredients


  • 1 ½ -2 lbs of ground beef (try bison, turkey or ground chicken) 
  • 3-16 oz cans of beans (I like kidney, black and pinto), drained and rinsed (sometimes I use more ground beef and one less can of beans) 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice 
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce 
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced (or heaping tablespoon dried) 
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (to taste, I use scant tablespoons, use more if you like more heat, less if you want really mild) 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (dried) 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (I used scant, again to desired flavor) 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (2 -4 inch) 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 2-3 shakes (or ½ tsp) crushed red pepper (again to taste, less if you desire less heat) 
  • 3-5 shakes of paprika (smoked paprika is delicious) 
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper (if desired) 
  • 1 large can pitted black olives, with liquid (optional, but add ½ cup water if not using) 
  • 1 zucchini, grated fine (optional) 
  • 3 carrots, grated fine (optional) 
  • 1 cup - 15 oz can pumpkin puree (optional)

TOPPING SUGGESTIONS

  • Shredded Cheese, 3 cheese Mexican is our favorite 
  • Green onions, chopped 
  • Sour Cream 
  • Fritos Corn Chips

Instructions


Drain and rinse beans, add to crockpot or large soup pot. Brown and drain ground meat, add to crock or soup pot.
While meat is browning, measure out all spices and place in small bowl, stirring to blend. Set aside. Pour diced tomatoes and tomato sauce over brown meat and beans. In same pan you browned meat, over medium heat; add butter, once melted add diced onions and sauté until soft and caramel colored. About 6-7 minutes. Or swap and brown your onions and spices ahead of the beef, cooking the beef in the spices.
Add garlic and sauté 1 minute until fragrant. Add bowl of spices to the browned onions and garlic, stir around until spices are fragrant. Toss in bay leaf and cinnamon sticks and stir around, remove from heat and pour onion and spice mixture on top of tomatoes. If using, add shredded zucchini, carrots and/or pumpkin puree, mix in well. Empty can of olives into crock along with juices.
Cover and cook on low for 4-8 hours (if longer needed, stir in ½ cup water) or high 4 hours (be sure to add a little extra water). Serve hot with desired toppings.

Tips

  • Sneak veggies into your dinner by adding shredded zucchini, carrots and even a can of pumpkin, stir it in and nobody will know it's there!
  • Substitutions | Use ground bison, elk, turkey or chicken in place of ground beef. 
  • How to Freeze Chili 
  • Cool completely before freezing, if still warm, condensation builds, causing ice, ice and frozen foods = freezer burn!
  • Freeze in individual sized portions, they make great microwavable portions.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie, laying flat for optimum freezer space.
  • Thaw overnight in fridge, heat on stovetop or even on low for an hour or so in slow cooker. 
  • Or line your slow cooker, then freeze directly in the insert. Remove after solid and wrap well, then when ready to reheat, remove liner and plunk back into crockpot and heat on low 2-4 hours. 
  • Lasts in freezer up to 3-4 months!

Kathleen | The Fresh Cooky
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