Short Rib Chili

Chili is one of those things that everyone makes differently, and there are so many variations. I love a good traditional ground beef chili with tomato based sauce and make that often. This chili, though, is probably our favorite. Short rib chili takes a little more time and work than typical chili, but it has deep flavor and the bits of super tender short rib make it so enjoyable to eat.

This recipe has a lot of little parts that add up to a ton of flavor. It uses dried Mexican guajillo and ancho chilies, fire roasted red pepper, fire roasted tomatoes, cocoa and beer. I know it sounds strange to add cocoa to chili but if you’ve ever eaten mole sauce, you are familiar with the idea. The chili doesn’t taste like chocolate, but the small amount of cocoa really compliments the chiles. If you don’t have a Mexican market near you, you can get all kinds of dried chilies on amazon (links above).

You can either fire roast some tomatoes or buy the canned fire roasted ones (these work great and this is what I use). For the pepper you can do what I do and buy a red bell pepper and throw it directly onto the burner on the stove (if you have gas) and char it that way. You could also use the roasted red pepper strips from the jar at the store and they work well. Dried beans are used in this recipe, but you can sub canned beans to save time if you like. You will just need to add them at the end, since the short ribs need 3-4 hours to cook and canned will turn to mush.

I like to serve this chili with chopped onion, shredded cheddar, sour cream, some chopped cilantro and avocado if I have it, and some limes to squeeze over before eating. You need about 4-5 hours total cooking time for this chili so make it on a day you will be home a while. It makes a ton and it freezes wonderfully so we always end up with some extra in our freezer when I make it. It one of the things I know my teenagers will eat leftover too.

Short Rib Chili

Deeply flavored chili with tender short rib pieces
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours
Course Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 servings


For the chili:

  • 1/2 lb small dried red beans or 3 cans of beans
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion peeled
  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tsp ground corriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 whole fire roasted red pepper or a few jarred strips
  • 2 lbs boneless short ribs cut into cubes
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 28oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup dark beer I use Guiness
  • a few crushed tortilla chips to thicken if needed
  • juice of one lime

To serve:

  • lime wedges
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • chopped onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped avocado
  • pickled jalapeno slices
  • bread or tortillas optional


  • Rinse and pick over the beans. Put them in a large pot with a lid and bring to a boil with the bay leaf and onion. Cover and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for an hour or two to soften the beans.
  • Seed and stem the dried chilies and toast them for a few minutes in a skillet. Don't burn them. Place in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Allow to sit and soften for 30 minutes.
  • Place the red pepper over the open flame on your stove top and rotate every few minutes until it almost completely charred black. Place under a dish towel for a few minutes and then rub off the skin. Cut out the stem/seed and place the pepper into the blender.
  • Add the chilies and liquid, along with all the spices, salt and cocoa powder. Puree until smooth.
  • Season the cut up short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a little oil in a heavy dutch over or other oven safe pot and when very hot, add the short ribs. Allow to brown on one side before stirring. Brown them well and move to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat a little and add the chopped onion and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste to the pan and let it caramelize a little before stirring it in. Add the beer and deglaze the pan. Add the meat, chile puree, tomatoes, beans, and their liquid.
  • Cover and place in a 325 oven for 3-4 hours until the short ribs are falling apart tender and everything is combined. You can also cook over low heat on the stove top, just make sure in either case to stir every so often and make sure the bottom isn't burning. Add more water if needed if the chili gets too thick.
  • About 30 minutes before serving, if the chili needs to be a bit thicker, add the crushed tortilla chips and mix in well. Taste and add salt, pepper and lime juice as needed.
  • Serve with all of the toppings on the side to add while eating.
Keyword Beef, Lunch, Main Dish

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