Secret Agent Chili

After years of making this chili and measuring the spices by hand, I finally got the measuring spoons out and properly documented the recipe.

This is my go-to, easy recipe when the weather is chilly. The ingredients can be found at pretty much any grocery store, though I usually have most of ten in the pantry. And, best of all, this recipe requires very little work but gives you lots of really good chili.

This is also one of the recipes that has woven a thread of memories through our family’s life. We’ve eaten this chili when we got our RV stuck in the mud in the Kaibab Forest outside of the Grand Canyon. We’ve eaten it in Florida at a winter get-together with other RVing families. And now we’ve eaten it in Maine on a chilly August night.

I hope your family will have many happy memories with this recipe too.

P.S. Thanks to our friend, Amy Menifee, for naming this recipe. The Secret in this recipe is the cinnamon.


Secret Agent Chili
8 servings

1.75 lb. ground beef 80/20
2 – 15.5 oz cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 – 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 – 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon


Brown the ground beef. Add the beans, tomatoes, and spices. Stir well. Bring the chili to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Serve with any or all of the following: GF tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, and rice.


  1. I drain the fat after browning the meat. I’m assuming that you just expect people to do this? Just a thought.
    :) ivy

    • Even though I’ve used 80/20 meat, I haven’t found it needful to drain the fat. Of course, I’m not very concerned about the amount of fat in our diet as long as we’re not eating fat and sugar at the same time. But, if there is a fat in the skillet that you’d like to drain, there’s no harm in doing so.

  2. Siobhan K. says:

    “chilly August night”

    These words do not compute, my brain says there is no such thing. Guess I have been in Texas far too long now…
    Siobhan K. Austin TX

  3. Martha McDaniel says:

    Your chili recipes does not fly in Texas. No real chili has beans in it. Never, never heard of such; well, yes, I have, it’s called Yankee Chilie and it is bad, bad news.

  4. I made this for supper tonight. I put it together early in the afternoon and cooked it on low in my crock pot. The family LOVED it!
    It was absolutely wonderful!

  5. I’ve been using cinnamon in my own chili for years, though I always mixed mine by taste and cooked it in a crockpot. People have no idea how rich cinnamon makes a chili. I also add a can of Coke more times than not. It may be my imagination, but I think the meat comes out a little sweeter and a lot more tender when I do.

Speak Your Mind