5 Alarm Chili

4.56 from 9 votes

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5 alarm chili is a meal for anyone who enjoys flavorful spicy foods! Make this hot chili recipe for a hearty Tex Mex meal on game day!

closeup: spoonful of 5 alarm chili

Dave’s 5 Alarm Chili recipe is a hot one, not for the weak-hearted! Yes, this is a hot chili recipe, but it isn’t all spicy heat; there’s plenty of flavor in the pot, too.

The spicy heat comes from two types of chili powder, plus cayenne, red pepper flakes and smoked paprika. For depth of flavor, Dave adds fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, cumin and other spices.

It cooks low and slow for a thick, rich chili that’s worth the wait. 2 hours isn’t terribly long. By half time on game day, it’ll be ready to eat.

Although your mouth may feel like it’s on fire when you taste this beefy, spicy Tex Mex meal, there’s no need to call the fire department. There isn’t a 5 alarm fire roaring in there, it’s just a deliciously hot 5 alarm chili.

bowl of tex mex ground beef stew topped with melted cheese and sour cream

5 Alarm Chili Ingredient Notes + Substitutions

As you’ll notice, the chili ingredients are a great combination of smoky and spicy flavors. Dave has one secret ingredient that makes his chili stand out above others, and that ingredient is white sugar. The sweetness helps to cut the acids in the tomatoes, creating a smoother flavor.

  • Ground beef– Dave uses an 80/20 blend of ground beef. You want a little bit of fat in your ground meat for the flavor it brings. Of course, you could substitute the beef for any type of ground meat.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes– If you’ve never tasted fire roasted tomatoes side by side with traditional canned tomatoes, the flavor difference may surprise you. The smokiness makes the chili that much better! You can buy them canned or use my fire roasted tomatoes recipe to make them yourself. It’s really easy.
  • California chile powder – Anaheim peppers are often referred to as California peppers, New Mexico peppers, or Magdalena. They’re dried and ground to create a mild chili powder with smoky flavor. If you can’t find it at the store, you can make your own California chili powder, or you can swap it out for New Mexico chile powder, which is also called Chimayo powder.
  • Ancho chile powder– Ancho chiles are the dried version of poblano peppers, and ancho chile powder is the base ingredient in my homemade chili seasoning. You could use that instead if you’d like.

Hot Chili Recipe Video

This could easily be called a “dump and go” recipe because there is SO little prep involved. You don’t even have to brown the ground beef first!!

Want to see the recipe from start to finish? Just watch the video located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

overhead: making hot chili recipe in large pot


How do you make chili spicier?

If you truly want to make 5 alarm chili even spicier, the easiest way is to add fresh chiles into the pot. For a little extra spiciness slice the chiles all the way open, then remove the seeds and membranes before adding the chiles to the pot.
If you’re going for a lot of extra spicy heat, simply remove the stems and cut a slice down one side of each chile pepper. Then, toss the whole chiles into the pot, seeds and membrane intact.

How do make chili less spicy?

If you went overboard with the hot chili recipe and made it TOO spicy, it’s okay; it can be fixed. All you need to do is neutralize the capsaicin in the spicy peppers by adding an ingredient that has lactose in it. Sour cream, Mexican crema, and creme fraiche are great options.

overhead: 2 bowls of five alarm chili side by side on glazed pottery plates

What to serve with 5 Alarm Chili

Topped with some chopped fresh onions and shredded sharp cheddar cheese and this makes for a wonderful, home cooked meal on a cold night. It’s super hearty so it’s an awesome game day recipe, too. Great tailgate eats!

We like to spread it over steamed beef tamales. If you don’t have any fresh ones, either homemade or from a local Latin market, you could serve it over rice or some Mexican cornbread.

I’m not a fan of chili over spaghetti noodles or elbow macaroni, but that’s what Cincinnati chili is. If you’d like to serve this hot chili recipe with a side of pasta, I won’t judge.

homemade chili on spoon over bowl

This post was first published on Kevin is Cooking on October 26, 2013. The content was last updated on August 3, 2021.

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closeup: spoonful of 5 alarm chili

5 Alarm Chili (Hot Chili Recipe) + Video

4.56 from 9 votes
5 alarm chili is a meal for anyone who enjoys flavorful spicy foods! Make this hot chili recipe for a hearty Tex Mex meal on game day!
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 20 minutes



  • Add all ingredients to a stock pot or Dutch oven.
  • Turn heat to medium and stir to break up meat with wooden spoon.
  • Cover with lid and simmer for 1 hour. Remove lid and stir to mix. Season if needed (salt) and cook for another 1 hour on low, covered.
  • Serve over steamed tamales topped with chopped onions and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.



Calories: 531kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1470mg | Potassium: 1412mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 11556IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 10mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: Tex Mex
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): Tex Mex 5 Alarm Chili - Hot Chili Recipe


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars

    This is an extremely authentic and real deal Chile recipe.

    Thank you so much Kevin for sharing this with all of us.

    First, that said, I have been a Chile afficianado since I was a kid in the ’50’s. Then it was OK to have beans, but when I have done Chile for the last five decades it will not have beans. (Pinto beans on the side – OK)

    I respectfully submit the following suggestions:

    The mix of the beef and ingretients shoud follow behind the draining of the 80/20 ground beef when heated in a skillet or dutch oven. (BTW do your own grindinig if possible – I have an old Universal No.

    That way we are not introducing to much beef fat which is tastefully good, but maybe not so good for us in our 70’s!

    Then, once the ingredients are added which are terrific as per Kevin, then you may want to have a can of cheap beer to keep the mixture fluid as it is simmering. I use beer in everything as opposed to water (setting aside game day) to add fluidity.

    Also I will use a tablespoon of masa flour (or any substitute) to give the Chile some body.

    Maybe this is sacrilege but I think it needs some binding.

    Lastly, Always have some shredded sharp / medium cheddar available as well as sour cream and perhaps some slices of avacado if available. Also perhaps some diced Jalapeno peppers for topping with sour cream and cheese if you so desire.

    I do Chicago style hot dogs on proper buns which is another subject but it is a compliment to this wonderful recipe.

    Thank you so much Kevin – you are indeed a real “pro.”

    Barry in CA

  2. 5 stars
    Kevin, this is absolutely superb.

    Stay to the recipe, use California Chile “El Guapo” (Chile California Molido) which is widely available in stores here in L.A. but probably on Amazon. There is more than enough in the 10oz package and the left over should be used on the Mexican Roasted Tomatoes in my opinion.

    I have other chile recipes that are also good, but this is the “hot one!”

    Thank you Kevin

  3. 5 stars
    This is delicious, but super hot, a bit too hot for us. Will try reducing some of the chili powder by half for next time. 🙂