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Is there anything better than coming home to a warm pot of chili on a cold wintery day? No, there really isn’t. Especially when that chili is spicy, smokey, and slightly sweet–like this Honey Habanero Chili! This recipe has been with Neal and I since we were dating. The original recipe is from Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen and has morphed over the years into something completely different.
While my initial reaction about putting honey into chili was “No, that would be absolutely disgusting” My second thought was more rational. There is a lot of spice in here thanks to 3 habanero peppers, chipotle peppers, and a decent amount of chili powder. The honey helps to balance out those strong spicy flavors, and provide a little sweetness that plays well with the fruity flavor of the habaneros. I’m glad I followed my initial thought. Neal said this was the best batch of chili we’ve ever made at home!While this recipe is finished in the crock pot, cooking the onions, peppers, and browning the meat on the stove help with flavor and texture.
While gluten free (if using gluten free soy sauce), I think this recipe could easily be vegetarian by replacing the meat with lentils, though I haven’t tested that yet. Make sure to wear gloves when you’re chopping hot peppers such as habaneros! I never do, and usually I’m fine if I wash my hands immediately after handling them. This past time, my hands stung for the entire night! It was terrible. Also, I’ve found the best way to cut habanero peppers is to peel the meat off of the seeds, like you’re peeling an apple. Then you’re left with the stems and seeds, which you can add the seeds to the chili if you want more spice, though I feel like it is spicy enough without them. First step is to soften the onion and peppers in a large skillet until soft. Then, add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until slightly rusty in color as in the picture above.
You’ll add the spices and cook until fragrant. Then, add the beef and cook until no longer pink. After you transfer everything to the crock pot and add the remaining ingredients, you’re done! Just cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours. It’s a little heavy on the prep work for a crockpot meal, but it is so worth it. Serve it with fresh avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, or tortilla chips!
I hope you enjoy this chili! It is a perfect meal for a cold winter’s day that is spicy and subtly sweet!
Honey Habanero Chili
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 white onions diced
- 2 - 3 habanero peppers de-seeded and minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp gluten free soy sauce/tamari
- 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce minced
- 2 - 3 tbsp honey
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, habanero peppers, and salt. Cook until vegetables are lightly softened. Add tomato paste and cook until color develops into a brick like color (see photo above).
- Add chili powder, garlic, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook briefly, until fragrant.
- Add ground beef and cook, breaking up large pieces as needed. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in tomato sauce, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Add diced tomatoes, kidney beans, soy sauce, chipotles and honey.
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 6-8 hours.
*Only use 1 or 2 habanero peppers if you don't like super spicy food