Smoked Chilli Con Carne

Smoked Beef Chilli Con Carne

Beef chilli cooked on the Big Green Egg develops a richness that you just won’t get cooking it inside. You have to try to understand the smoky flavour.

My method of cooking the chilli is to fry off the beef mince first, almost burning it to allow the Maillard reaction to take place where the mince browns as the proteins turn to sugars and then caramelises. This gives the chilli an intense beefy flavour you just won’t get cooking it any other way.

There has been a real fad (and I believe it is a fad) for cooking chilli the Over The Top (OTT) method. This is when you form your mince into a ball and smoke it on a rack above your sauce. The ball is then broken up into the sauce. The theory is the meat smokes better. Well the meat may well get smoky but it’s doesn’t go through the Maillard reaction so you lose that flavour straight away. Also smoke likes to stick to cold and wet things, like the sauce. I believe you get a much better result by cooking the mince first and then smoking the whole chilli over chips and or chunks.

Cooking surfaces

Cast Iron Grid

then add

Plate setter icon

BBQ Temperature





  • 1kg beef mince (20% fat is good)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 2 diced red peppers
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 cans plum tomatoes
  • 2 cans kidney beans (undrained – the liquid has lots of flavour)
  • 100ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp Maldon sea salt
  • 30ml Hot Chipotle Sauce (optional, taste once cooked and add if you like it more spicy)
  • 3 to 5 chunks of Hickory wood for smoking (yes this is an ingredient even if it doesn’t go in the pan)



  1. Set up your EGG for direct cooking with the Dutch Oven on the Stainless Steel Grid directly over the coals. Get the temperature up to around 200°C.
  2. Add your mince and cook it until all the liquid that comes out of it has evaporated and it starts to make a popping sound. You’re trying to get some caramelisation on the beef as this is the lovely delicious flavour forming. It takes about 10 minutes before this happens.  Cook with it popping for about 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.  If you’re using leaner mince, you may need to add the oil at this stage to get the caramelisation.
  3. Add the chopped onion, garlic and peppers and sweat down – you will need to open the EGG every couple of minutes to stir.
  4. Add the tomato puree, chilli flakes and cumin seeds and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients except the chilli sauce, you do not need the lid for the Dutch Oven but do cook with the EGG lid down.
  6. Take out the Dutch Oven and remove the Stainless Steel Grid and add your pre soaked Hickory chunks to the charcoal, add the Plate Setter (feet up) and Stainless Steel Grid ready for an indirect cook.
  7. Set your Egg to 110°C.
  8. Place your chilli back on the Egg and once the Chilli is simmering cook for a further hour or three to allow the flavours to develop – you will see quite a lot of hickory smoke!
  9. Check the chilli every so often as you may need top up with a bit of water so it doesn’t dry out.
  10. Once cooked, taste it.  If you want to spice it up, now’s the time to add some chilli sauce.

Serve your chilli with rice and sour cream. For a spot of indulgence you might even sprinkle over some grated cheese.  Chilli is also great served with Big Green Egg baked potatoes.


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