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Firecracker Chili | Best Chili Recipe Ever

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This is a unique, spicy (but not hot), easy Firecracker Chili recipe that is the perfect chilly night meal! Cinnamon chili is an award winning family and neighbor favorite! It is the best chili recipe ever. Optional add ins are zucchini, pumpkin and carrots for a healthy, crockpot chili dinner.

While this Firecracker Cinnamon chili sounds hot, it is NOT! Wow, this is a great chili! A great make-ahead meal for Halloween, football games, fall dinners or anytime you need a BIG OL POT OF GOODNESS!

You should try our other favorite crockpot recipes, like this Easy Crockpot Butter Chicken (or Stovetop), Healthy Crack Chicken {Instant Pot or Slow Cooker}.

Best Chili Recipe ever, Firecracker Chili in scalloped bowl with cheese sour cream, onions and parsley on top.

Cinnamon Chili Recipe

So what is this secret ingredient, or ingredients? It’s CINNAMON and cloves! Yes, putting cinnamon in your chili enhances it in tremendous ways.

Much like adding chili powder and other common chili spices, cinnamon is a super versatile spice that adds warmth without the heat to Firecracker chili.

bowl of delicious beef chili with secret ingredients.

On a chilly day, after a long day of skiing, trick-or-treating, relaxing, sledding, or working…there is nothing like a crock pot hanging out doing it’s thang, filling the air with amazing spices like this unique, warming chili. 

I’ve added all sorts of things to Firecracker chili; try adding pumpkin puree, shredded zucchini and carrots — sneaking in some healthy veggies, or make it with ground chicken, turkey, elk or my favorite bison!

What Makes this the best Chili Recipe Ever?

The ultimate chili should:

  1. Have a rich, complex chili flavor that combines sweet, bitter, hot, fresh, and fruity elements in balance.
  2. Have a robust, meaty, beefy flavor.
  3. Assuming that it contains beans, have beans that are tender, creamy, and intact.
  4. Be bound together by a thick, deep-red sauce. (source)
Top down shot of a scalloped bowl on a cutting board filled with rich Firecracker Chili with a spoon and shredded cheese nearby.

Primary Ingredients

These are the main ingredients for the best chili recipe ever, the printable recipe card is at the end of the post.

  • Ground Beef | I also love to use ground bison, turkey, venison and chicken for this recipe.
  • Beans | I sometimes change it up from regular kidney beans to tri-color beans or black beans.
  • Tomatoes | You’ll need both diced tomatoes and tomato sauce for this yummy recipe.
  • Parsley | The fresh kind, adds wonderful flavor and nutrients.
  • Spices | like all chili recipes, there are yummy spices, like chili powder, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, and the secret ingredients, cinnamon sticks and cloves.
  • Black Olives | my other secret ingredient, adds a lovely touch to the chili recipe.
  • Optional Addition | Shredded or grated zucchini, carrots and a can of pumpkin puree, talk about nutrition!

How to Make Firecracker Chili

Heat a good sized pan nice and hot (about medium-high) and toss in your ground beef. Love my cast iron pans!

Break it up using a heavy duty wooden spoon, or try one of these nifty tools; I bought this several years back from the Pampered Chef and I must say, I do love it, but you don’t need it, a strong wooden spoon or spatula will do the trick!

chopping ground beef in cast iron skillet.

While your meat is browning, open your cans of beans and pour into a colander in the sink, rinsing them well. You can use traditional kidney beans or a mixture of beans as I have done here. I favor black beans over kidney beans.

Place drained and rinsed beans in crock or soup pot.

And yes, that is an electric can opener...when I have a lot of cans to open, I pull that puppy out of the cupboard.

Rinsing beans and electric can opener for firecracker chili.

Once your meat has browned, drain any large amounts of fat and then place cooked meat in crockpot or large soup pot. 

Tri-Color beans in crock pot with ground beef for firecracker chilli.

In the same pan you browned your meat in, add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, toss chopped onion and sauté for several (6-8) minutes until soft and a nice caramel color, once soft, add your garlic stirring until fragrant about a minute.

NOTE | Depending on my mood, I will brown my onions and garlic first, adding the spices to bloom and THEN brown my beef in the same pan! So it soaks up all those yummy flavors! 

While your onions are sautéing, pour your can of diced tomatoes (regular, unsalted, roasted, whatever you have in your pantry!) into the crockpot.

ADDING DICED TOMATOES TO GROUND BEEF mixture in crockpot for firecracker chili.

And then tomato sauce…

POURING TOMATO SAUCE INTO CHILI a can of Muir Glen Organic tomato sauce for firecracker chili.

Also while your onions are sautéing, measure the spices in a small bowl, adjust your seasonings up or down based on taste. 

4 images, left to right, Smoked Paprika, Sea Salt, Cumin and Oregano for firecracker chili.

Next add paprika (I LOOOOVEEE smoked paprika), sea salt, cumin and oregano.

Adjust the spices to your tastes, I’m not a huge fan of cumin, so I tend to put a scant teaspoon in, whereas, I love paprika so it’s quite a few shakes for me! Mix it all around and add the spices to your soft and caramelized onions, stirring over low heat for a minute. This really “blooms” the spices allowing the flavors to come alive!

Pouring spices into saute pan with softened onions and garlic to bloom the spices for chili with zucchini.

Now add those cinnamon sticks, yep, cinnamon sticks. Isn’t it beautiful!? Okay, I admit I get a bit strange about these things.

adding cinnamon sticks in pan with onions for best chili recipe ever.

Take all of that goodness and pour it over your meat in the crockpot, scraping the pan to get every last beautiful morsel.

Next add fresh parsley. Don’t have fresh? don’t worry just toss in a small handful of dried.

Adding fresh chopped parsley to chili ingredients.

For me, this is the best part of the chili, a can of black olives with their liquid!

Adding olives to firecracker chili.

What Veggies Are Good to Add to Chili?

These next few items are optional, but they sure do add some great nutrition and fiber to your chili, sneaking some nutrient veggies in for picky eaters! The great part is they will not see or taste them as it cooks into the chili.

  • We’ll start with zucchini, I grated one medium sized zucchini.
Shredded zucchini on top of fresh parsley and other cinnamon chili ingredients.
  • Shredded carrots (if desired)
  • Try shredded butternut squash
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

Oh and don’t forget the bay leaf, I somehow missed taking a picture of that, but it’s in there! Just one!

shredded carrots and zucchini in chili.

That’s it, now stir it all around and place the lid on the crock pot or soup pot, set the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours (it can go longer if needed, just add a ½ cup of additional water before covering it). You may also cook on high for 4 hours. 

Crockpot vs. Stovetop Chili

Does not matter, either way works! Both are delicious, I just recommend you are around all day if making on your stovetop, fire safety and all.

Stovetop | Simmer on low for 3-4 hours, if it starts drying out, add a ½ cup of hot water and stir it in.

Slow cooker showing time left cooking at 4:56 for Firecracker Chili recipe.

I love this Slow Cooker, the insert can go from stovetop to Slow Cooker!

I had some leftover barbecue brisket, added that too! So many options, make it your way!

Tossing leftover chopped beef brisket into pot of chili in crock pot.

Place that lid on top and don’t lift it until it’s done!

Coming home after a long day of school “Fall” parties, wrangling 30 sugar-high, excited and squirmy kids for a game of pumpkin bowling or decorating their own pumpkin sugar cookie is exhausting…not joking, it truly is.

The exotic smell of chili is both warm and comforting, with a full meal all ready to tackle the busy school night, Halloween night, snowy night, or relaxed weekend night…you get the idea.

bowl of award winning chili

Once it’s finished, give it a good stir, taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

Can I Freeze Cinnamon Chili?

Yes! I freeze our leftovers all the time. A few suggestions.

  • Cool completely before freezing, if still warm, condensation builds, causing ice, ice and frozen foods = freezer burn!
  • Freeze in individual sized portions, they make great microwavable portions.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie, laying flat for optimum freezer space.
  • Thaw overnight in fridge, heat on stovetop or even on low for an hour or so in slow cooker.
  • Or line your slow cooker, then freeze directly in the insert. Remove after solid and wrap well, then when ready to reheat, remove liner and plunk back into crockpot and heat on low 2-4 hours.
  • Lasts in freezer up to 3-4 months!

Scoop into bowls and top with your favorite toppings. We love sour cream, corn chips and a little shredded cheese. And don’t forget the corn bread, like this Sweet Buttermilk Corn Bread!

Sure to warm you from the inside out!

Other incredible slow cooker or slow cooked recipes to warm you on a chilly day:

Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below the recipe!

Best Chili Recipe ever, Firecracker Chili in scalloped bowl with cheese sour cream, onions and parsley on top.

Easy Firecracker Cinnamon Chili

Author: Kathleen | The Fresh Cooky 2021
4.69 from 16 votes
Spicy, but not HOT Firecracker cinnamon chili. Give this delicious, but unusually spiced chili a try, adding shredded zucchini to increase the nutritional value and flavor! A healthy best ever chili recipe1
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine American
Servings 8 -10 servings
Calories 872 kcal


  • 1 ½ -2 lbs of ground beef, try bison, turkey or ground chicken
  • 3-16 oz cans of beans, I like kidney, black and pinto, drained and rinsed (sometimes I use more ground beef and one less can of beans)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced (or heaping tablespoon dried)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder, to taste, I use scant tablespoons, use more if you like more heat, less if you want really mild
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, I used scant, again to desired flavor
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 -4 inch
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 shakes, or ½ tsp crushed red pepper (again to taste, less if you desire less heat)
  • 3-5 shakes of paprika, smoked paprika is delicious
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper, if desired
  • 1 large can pitted black olives, with liquid (optional, but add ½ cup water if not using)
  • 1 zucchini, grated fine (optional)
  • 3 carrots, grated fine (optional)
  • 1 cup – 15 oz can pumpkin puree, optional


  • Shredded Cheese, 3 cheese Mexican is our favorite
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Sour Cream
  • Fritos Corn Chips


  • Drain and rinse beans, add to crockpot or large soup pot. Brown and drain ground meat, add to crock or soup pot.
  • While meat is browning, measure out all spices and place in small bowl, stirring to blend. Set aside. Pour diced tomatoes and tomato sauce over brown meat and beans. In same pan you browned meat, over medium heat; add butter, once melted add diced onions and sauté until soft and caramel colored. About 6-7 minutes. Or swap and brown your onions and spices ahead of the beef, cooking the beef in the spices.
  • Add garlic and sauté 1 minute until fragrant. Add bowl of spices to the browned onions and garlic, stir around until spices are fragrant. Toss in bay leaf and cinnamon sticks and stir around, remove from heat and pour onion and spice mixture on top of tomatoes. If using, add shredded zucchini, carrots and/or pumpkin puree, mix in well. Empty can of olives into crock along with juices.
  • Cover and cook on low for 4-8 hours (if longer needed, stir in ½ cup water) or high 4 hours (be sure to add a little extra water). Serve hot with desired toppings.


✱ Kathleen’s Tips

Sneak veggies into your dinner by adding shredded zucchini, carrots and even a can of pumpkin, stir it in and nobody will know it’s there!
Substitutions | Use ground bison, elk, turkey or chicken in place of ground beef.
How to Freeze Chili
  • Cool completely before freezing, if still warm, condensation builds, causing ice, ice and frozen foods = freezer burn!
  • Freeze in individual sized portions, they make great microwavable portions.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie, laying flat for optimum freezer space.
  • Thaw overnight in fridge, heat on stovetop or even on low for an hour or so in slow cooker.
  • Or line your slow cooker, then freeze directly in the insert. Remove after solid and wrap well, then when ready to reheat, remove liner and plunk back into crockpot and heat on low 2-4 hours.
  • Lasts in freezer up to 3-4 months!
Serving suggestion | Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread with Honey and Butter


Serving: 1 Calories: 872 kcal Carbohydrates: 96 g Protein: 53 g Fat: 34 g Saturated Fat: 14 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 15 g Trans Fat: 1 g Cholesterol: 152 mg Sodium: 1417 mg Fiber: 11 g Sugar: 70 g

Nutrition Disclaimer

The Fresh Cooky is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Close up pin for pinterest of beef chili with olives, sour cream and cheese. Recipe on www.thefreshcooky.com
Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

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