Great Grandma's Famous Carrot Chili Recipe (2024)

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It’s fall in my neck of the woods… well, as fall as it gets here at home in Jacksonville, Florida. Temps haven’t been below about 80 yet, but that’s pretty nice for us. Still, can we just have a few snow flakes this year, please? Cold front, where are you?!

The moment it drops below about 68, you know what time it is for this thin-skinned Florida girl. Boots, scarves, jeans, a bonfire out back and yes, homemade chili! I cook great big vats of it as soon as it cools off and invite everyone over for a taste. Clearly this year we won’t be having our usual big get-togethers for SEC football weekends, but maybe I’ll be open the window for to-go orders – ha!

Great Grandma's Famous Carrot Chili Recipe (1)

Chili for Everyone

Anybody with a stove can make a decent pot of chili, right? It’s pretty easy to throw some sort of liquified tomato paste/sauce/juice/soup in a sauce pot/crock pot, mix in some browned ground beef and some kidney beans. Basic stuff that any college kid could whip up on a whim. (Or, you could do what I did in college and eat a 99 cent cup of Wendy’s chili every single day of freshman year because, well, tuition is expensive and it’s hard to cook anything in a dorm!)

Basic Chili Recipe? Not On My Watch.

Taking an easy chili recipe from basic to next level can be a lifelong quest. I’m fortunate that I found the most incredible chili recipe as a kid, because it was handed down through the generations by my Great Grandma Gloria. I have no idea where the recipe came from, whether she learned it from her mother or if perhaps it’s just something she came up with one freezing cold Wisconsin winter, but whatever the circ*mstances, I’m just glad I live in a world where Gram’s Carrot Chili is still a mainstay of the season for me.

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I remember being so excited when Mom would make this unique chilli recipe when I was a kid. Coming home from school, chucking my backpack on the floor and running to the stove to see my favorite recipe bubbling up in the pot is one of my enduring memories from childhood. And leftovers the next day were even better. I could seriously eat on a pot of carrot chili for a week and be totally satisfied with my whole entire life. Ah, simpler times!

Flip the Script on Your Simple Chili Recipe

If you’re thinking, “Angie, carrots do not belong in chili and I’ll thank you to stop promoting this culinary heresy,” trust me – I hear you, carrots-in-chili skeptic. I do.

Flipping the script on traditional chili can be a daunting prospect. Usually we make chili in such big batches, we don’t want to try something new that makes it all taste weird, right? And chili is definitely comfort food, so the last thing you want to do is make it taste different. I get all that. All I can say is that you have to trust me on this and know that I’ve sampled chili around the world and none compares to this family recipe.

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There something about the familiar taste of chili – the tomato base, the sizzling ground beef, the onions and spices, meshed with the sweetness of tender carrots that’ve been simmering all day with all those other ingredients that will knock your socks off. It’s an incredible taste of fall you didn’t know you were missing.

Best Chili Recipe Ever

The fun thing about chili is how you can customize every single batch. Some like it spicy with copious chili powder and even red pepper flakes; others love it with beans (no thank you); some like to make it a little healthier with ground turkey instead of ground beef. The good news is that no matter how you customize, the carrots are the secret ingredient that make this chili recipe better than any other I’ve had.

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Crockpot Carrot Chili Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef. Note it doesn’t have to be lean but that works best so the chili isn’t too oily.
  • 2 lb. fresh carrots, chopped whatever size you like but preferably the same size. Great Gram used to peel and slice the carrots into little circles by hand, but I’m a big fan of buying either baby carrots or carrot chips/coins and just dumping them straight in the crockpot. It saves a ton of time.
  • 70-85 oz. of tomato base. Gram’s recipe used old school Campbell’s tomato soup, but I have used tomato paste, canned roasted tomatoes, Chili Fixin’s-flavored Rotel and tomato sauce with great success. This part is totally up to you and you can absolutely mix and match based on whatever you have in the pantry.
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic powder
  • 1-3 tbsp. Chili powder, to taste
  • Salt & pepperto taste

Yield: 16 8 oz. servings

Gram Gloria's Easy Crockpot Carrot Chili

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My favorite chili recipe has an unexpected secret ingredient - carrots! I don't know how my Great Grandma came up with this recipe, but it's a family favorite passed down through the generations.

And it's so easy! Just a handful of ingredients make a hearty chili for the coldest day, and it's easy to jazz it up and make it your own with a few tweaks.

Prep Time20 minutes

Cook Time4 hours

Total Time4 hours 20 minutes


  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 2 lbs. fresh carrots
  • 70-85 oz. of tomato base
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and onions. Drain excess grease andadd to crockpot.
  2. Add 70-85 oz. of tomato base to crockpot, depending how soupy you like your chili. Can use tomato sauce, paste, Campbell’s tomato soup, spicy Rotel, chunky roasted tomatoes, etc.
  3. Add chili powder, onion powder, salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Stir in fresh, raw carrots.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours or until carrots are tender.
  6. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, diced green onions, avocado slices or no toppings at all!



Brown ground beef and onions as directed in initial recipe. While cooking, bring carrots to a boil for 30-45 minutes. When tender (but not mushy) drain in a colander, reserving a bit of the water in the bottom of the pot. Return carrots to the pot; add tomato base, ground beef, onions and spices. Simmer for up to an hour on low and serve.

Easy Carrot Crockpot Chili Recipe Notes

Unlike many traditional chili recipes, I find that this one doesn’t need much cheese, sour cream or other toppings, but you do you, Boo!I tend to customize each batch based on what I have on hand, so here are some of my favorite secret ingredients to make your chili extra special.

  • Make spicy chili! Chili powder is the quickest way to add flavor to your carrot chili recipe, and I love testing out different variations. We use ancho chili powder for smoky flavor and chipotle jalapeno chili powder for a kick.
  • Make healthier chili! Substitute ground turkey with ground beefto make it a bit healthier without sacrificing a whole lot of taste.
  • Make veggie chili! I don’t like beans in my chili, but white beans, kidney beans or even black beans are all a great way to get extra protein and flavor. If you’re feeding kids or picky adults who avoid vegetables, making a pot of chili is a super excuse to hide those vitamins. Chop up a sweet potato into the same-sized chunks as the carrots for a disguised dose of Vitamin A. You can also dice zucchini or add fresh roasted peppers, too.
  • Make southwest carrot chili! Mix in a can of corn and 2 tablespoons of Tajin with the carrots for a southwest flair.
  • Make gluten free chili! This recipe is gluten free, but keep an eye on what tomato base you use. Campbell’s tomato soup actually has gluten, so be sure to read the label.
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Kitchen Supplies You Need to Make Gram’s Award Winning Chili

Great Grandma's Famous Carrot Chili Recipe (7)

Will Great Grandma Gloria’s World Famous Carrot Chili become your new favorite chili recipe? I don’t make any guarantees, but I’d sure like to know your thoughts in the comments if you give it a shot!

Great Grandma's Famous Carrot Chili Recipe (2024)


What was Walt's favorite chili in 1958? ›

He loved chili.” Walt would eat this favorite food at high-end restaurants like the iconic Chasen's in Beverly Hills, but was equally happy eating it at home. His quick, no-fuss, at-home preference? A mixture of Gebhardt's and Dennison's canned chili.

Why do you put carrots in chili? ›

And if those robust notes aren't enough and you're looking for a bit of sweetness, the solution is surprisingly simple. Add a few chunks of carrots and you're good to go. Sweet and earthy, this humble root veggie brings a rustic trait to chili that makes the dish all the more comforting.

How does Martha Stewart make chili? ›

Add chili powder, cocoa, and tomato paste; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, broth, and cooked beef. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until thickened slightly, 25 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve with sour cream and chives.

Does Ina Garten have a chili recipe? ›

It's no surprise that Ina's chili recipe is a cinch to make. You start by cooking a ton of onions in a pot until translucent, then adding garlic, bell peppers, and several spices — including chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. Next, Ina has you crush canned plum tomatoes with your hands.

What did cowboys eat chili? ›

Suppression only fueled this fire and in the 1800's chili was a staple food for cowboys, ruffians, and Adventurers on the Western Frontier. It was even served up in jails. Originally made of dried beef, fat and spices carried in saddlebags, then reconstituted over campfires. It was cheap and hearty and filling.

Did cowboys have beans in their chili? ›

It was cowboys who brought beef to the dish, but those same cowboys also kept beans in it. According to the Chili Appreciation Society International, chili's spread throughout Texas and other parts of the country began with cattle drives in the mid 19th century.

What not to put in chili? ›

Beans and non-vegetable fillers such as rice and pasta are not allowed." If that sounds a bit uptight, the ICS's Homestyle Chili competition defines chili as: "any kind of meat, or combination of meats, and/or vegetables cooked with beans, chili peppers, various spices, and other ingredients.

Why do you put vinegar in chili? ›

With only about 1 tablespoon per pot added toward the end of the cooking process, the vinegar will make the flavors more vibrant without overwhelming the dish with its biting tang. Through just a splash, everything becomes a little brighter, and the chili's flavors are more balanced.

What makes chili taste better? ›

"Adding fresh ingredients — like diced onions, cilantro, and jalapenos — will take any canned chili to another level," Dunleavy said. "The fresh burst of flavor will brighten and elevate the chili while also adding great texture and crunch."

How do you make chili taste richer? ›

Cocoa powder, bacon, cinnamon, ground coffee and tomato paste will all add a rich sweet & salty flavors that are sure to surprise and delight. Warming spice blends, like Garam Masala, Ras el Hanout or Baharat are another simple and delicious way to add layered flavors to this simple one-pot meal.

Why do people put baking soda in chili? ›

According to the magazine's food experimenters, the baking soda treatment will definitely keep the meat tender and juicy when cooked.

How is Wendy's chili made? ›

The Wendy's Chili recipe ingredients are simple at their core, but at Wendy's it's all about blending our signature beef with the perfect mix of hearty vegetables, chili beans and savory spices. The result is a taste that's both satisfying and sentimental, and it's the perfect comfort food anytime of the year.

Is chili better the longer it cooks? ›

A low and slow cook time—at least an hour total—is key for drawing out the most flavor in a pot of chili. Yes, a quick chili is most welcome on weeknights, but it won't have quite the same results. A slow cooker works wonders, but if you're short on time, try a pressure cooker.

Why is chili better in the slow cooker? ›

Chili is perhaps the ideal slow-cooker dish because its flavor improves with a long, slow simmer. This makes a big batch, perfect for a cold-weather get-together, but if you're making it for a smaller group, the leftovers freeze well.

What's the difference between skyline chili and regular chili? ›

Why is Skyline Chili so popular? This dish has a Mediterranean influence in flavor so it is really unique! It has the traditional chili powder and cumin but also cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Skyline Chili has perfected their recipe so well that it is even sold in grocery stores.

What was Walt Disney's favorite food? ›

His favorite meal was a can of Gebhardt's chili mixed with a can of Dennison's chili, which he often ate at his desk. He was also a big fan of V-8 juice, which he would offer to visitors at the studio, who were often disappointed that there was nothing stronger available.

What is Walt's favorite song? ›

Walt Disney Centennial tale

Before playing the last song, Sherman said: "Now, I'll play Walt Disney's favorite song... and it's just for him", and he played "Feed The Birds".

What was Walt Disney's favorite snack? ›

While he wasn't a huge fan of sweets he did have a few favorites, including custards, red Jell-O with fruit, baked apples, bread pudding, lemon snow pudding, gingerbread and cookies made with crunchy chow mein noodles and melted butterscotch.

Who had the first Cincinnati chili? ›

It was October 24, 1922, when Athanas (“Tom”) and Ivan (“John”) Kiradjieff opened their Empress Chili Parlor, the first ever to serve what we now call Cincinnati chili, at 816 Vine Street, tucked inside the Empress Burlesk Theater. Cincinnati loved its chili way back in 1918.

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