Kick-Ass Carolina Touchdown Chili

The Carolina Panthers are kicking off their season opener again the San Francisco 49ers today, and I made an extra special pot of chili to mark the occasion! Here in the Fat Loss Foodies test kitchen (aka my house), we like our chili crying-hot, so the above photo of Panther's Quarterback Cam Newton surrounded by flames is pretty much how I feel about this chili recipe:

It's hot. It's a winner. It may even be our new family recipe because it combines things we love:

  • Local North Carolina beef and produce from the Piedmont Triad Farmer's Market
  • Corona beer
  • A good kick of heat
  • It's Fat Loss Foodie-approved: this chili is high in protein and fiber, which means it will keep you full for hours. Add some fun toppings like chopped cilantro and Greek yogurt for a great one-bowl meal. Yes, it has beer in it, which may slightly mitigate the "healthy" factor, but seriously - one 12-ounce Corona Light only has 99 calories and 5 grams of carbs. Pffft. We're not worried about that.

If you've been following me online for a long time, you may be really confused by my new-found football fandom. I used to HATE football, but now I think it's just because I never lived anywhere with a good team. I lived in Washington, D.C., for 12+ years and...well, come on. The Redskins. They are just awful. I grew up in South Carolina, but the Carolina Panthers didn't exist then and my family was more likely to watch NASCAR races on the weekends, not NFL games. 

Last year, my husband and I started watching Carolina Panthers games and actually followed the team. One of our highlights of 2015 was our annual January trip to Las Vegas, which coincided with Super Bowl 50: the Denver Broncos versus the Carolina Panthers. It was a terrible game for the Panthers (they lost - badly), but I finally understood why football is so important to so many people. When you're invested in a team that you have a connection to, it's actually really cool! 

So, NFL teams and fans, I'm sorry for all the things I said about you before I understood. I get it now.

I offer you a bowl of this Kick-Ass Carolina Touchdown Chili as a peace offering. 



This chili requires a generous dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream to help cut the heat when you serve it. If you don't like to play with fiery hot peppers, it's all good. Just leave out the Carolina Reaper pepper and you'll be left with a really flavorful, mildly spicy chili. 

DID YOU KNOW? "The Carolina Reaper is officially the World's Hottest Pepper as ranked by Guinness Records. There is nothing normal about this pepper. It was bred for heat and that it is with an average SHU of over 1.5 million and peaks at 2.2 Million SHU! Just looking at it, you know its one mean pepper. It gets this insane heat from being a cross between a Pakastani Naga and a Red Habanero. Oddly enough this pepper doesn’t just have heat, but excellent flavor as well." [Source]

If you're going to use a Carolina Reaper, wear latex gloves. I made a huge mistake: I touched my nose after mincing up just half of the pepper for this chili. One nostril and half of my nose was numb and burning for several minutes afterwards. 

Panthers, do us proud this season.  #KeepPounding

Serves 8 - Adapted from Cooking Light


Olive oil

2 lbs. lean ground sirloin 

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped 

2 chopped seeded poblano chiles

Half of a Carolina Reaper pepper or other spicy pepper like Habanero, minced 

8 garlic cloves, minced 

1 12-oz. bottle of Mexican beer (we use Corona Light) 

1 Tbs. chili powder 

1 1/2 tsp.  ground cumin 

3/4 tsp. salt

2 1/2 c. marinara sauce (we used Whole Foods No-Sugar-Added Marinara Sauce) 

1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained 

1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained


1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and then add beef, cooking for about 10 minutes or until browned. Use a wooden spoon to break it up. Remove beef from pan and transfer to a slow cooker.

NOTE: If you use lean ground beef there will be very little excess fat in the pan. Don't worry about removing it. If you use fattier ground meat, you will definitely want to drain off the excess fat.

2. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan over medium heat. Add chopped jalapeños, onion, poblano, and garlic. Sauté 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until onion is tender. Add spices: chili powder, cumin, and salt. Cook for 1 minute while stirring. Transfer to slow cooker. 

3. To the slow cooker, add the rest of the ingredients: beer, marinara, black beans, and tomatoes. If using, add the minced Carolina Reaper pepper. Stir to incorporate. Set slow cooker on low and cover, letting it cook for for 6-8 hours for best taste.