Pickler & Ben’s 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off: Find Out the Winner and Get the Recipes!

It’s Pickler & Ben’s 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off! Chefs Marc Murphy and Pet Neely are here to judge the competition between firefighter Damarcus Wilkinson’s chili and law students Bryan Kelly and Brook Adams’ recipe.

Ultimately, Damarcus’ No Hose Barred Chili walked away with the chili bowl trophy! But you’ll definitely want to whip up both chili recipes at home! Head below for the recipes, and bon appeit!

No Hose Barred Chili
Serves 6 to 8

Sound the alarms! Firefighter Demarcus Wilkinson created the winning recipe for our 2nd Annual Chili Competition, and it’s sure to win big in your home, too.


For the Magical Chili Seasoning:
8 juniper berries
15 to 20 allspice berries
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
4 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the chili:
3 to 4 dried Ancho chile, divided
3 to 4 dried Gaujillo chile, divided
3 to 4 dried Arbol chile, divided
3 to 4 dried Chipotle chile, divided
2 quarts warm beef stock
3/4 pound slab bacon ends, finely chopped
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
1 large green pepper, cored and diced
1 jalapeno, diced
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
1 (3-ounce) package McCormicks Chili Seasoning
1 tablespoon dried chili powder
1 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (32-ounce) can tomato sauce
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

For serving:
Sour cream
Diced white onion Shredded cheddar cheese
Hot sauce


1. Make the seasoning: In a skillet over medium-high heat, toast juniper, allspice, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garlic powder, mustard, and cinnamon until fragrant. Transfer to a coffee grinder and grind until combined and finely ground.

2. Make the chili: In a medium bowl, add 1/2 of the dried chilies and enough stock to cover. Let sit until rehydrated. Transfer to blender and blend until smooth. Grind remaining 1/2 of the dried chilies into a fine powder.

3. Season beef and pork with salt, pepper, and cumin. In a heavy bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat, brown bacon until crisp. Transfer to a bowl and reserve fat. Wipe pot and return to heat. Add beef and cook until browned. Transfer to a separate bowl. Wipe pot and return to heat. Add pork and cook until browned. Transfer to bowl with beef. Wipe pot and return to heat.

4. Add onion, green pepper, jalapeno, and 1 tablespoon bacon. Sauté until onions are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add bay leaves, 2 tablespoons Magic Chili Seasoning, McCormicks Chili Seasoning, chili powder, and 1 to 2 teaspoons dried chili powder. Cook 1 minute. Stir in blended dried chili sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Fill an empty tomato can with broth and add to pot.

5. Stir in browned meat and simmer 20 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add more broth to thin. Simmer, continually stirring, 10 minutes more. Serve with sour cream, onion, cheese, and hot sauce, if desired.

Bryan and Brooke’s Chili
Serves 10 to 12

This four-pepper chili, created by law students Bryan Kelly and Brook Adams, was featured in our 2nd Annual Chili Competition for a good reason! Make this a day ahead to really let the flavors develop.


2 pounds hot Italian sausage, casing removed
2 pounds mild Italian sausage, casing removed
3 pounds (80/20) lean ground chuck
4 strips peppered bacon
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cubes beef bouillon
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with liquid
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer, like Stone IPA
2 teaspoons hot sauce, like Tabasco
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 orange bell pepper, cored and diced
3 sticks celery, diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄4 cup chlii powder
1 habanero pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 serrano pepper
1 poblano pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, if needed


1. In a large bowl, mix the sausages and beef together until combined.

2. In a 16-inch skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet, leaving fat, and let cool. Chop into small pieces.

3. Add sausage and beef mixture to skillet and cook until brown. Using a spatula, separate meat into bite-sized pieces. Transfer meat to a large stockpot.

4. Add onions and garlic to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to stockpot.

5. Place the stockpot over medium-high heat and stir in chopped bacon, diced tomatoes, bouillon, tomato paste, beer, Worcestershire, hot sauce, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, green bell pepper, orange bell pepper, celery, cumin, basil, black pepper, oregano, cayenne pepper, and chili powder.

6. In the base of a food processor, pulse habanero, jalapeno, serrano, and poblano together until pureed. Add a little olive oil, if needed, for smoothness.

7. Stir pepper mixture into stockpot. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors combine.

Get more delicious recipes by heading to Pickler & Ben’s Recipe Archive!

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