Bourbon Pork Chili Recipe


By Richard Thomas

Bourbon pork chili

A pot of bourbon pork chili on the stove (Credit: Richard Thomas)

Bourbon pork chili is an idea I came up with for October and November chili parties, born of the need to come up with variations on old fashioned chili con carne. My recipe is a variant of the Cincinnati-style chili recipe my Mother taught me, and the differences stem from three ideas:

  1. Turkey chili is common enough, so why not chili with the other white meat?
  2. Bourbon whiskey, with its deep sweetness and char smoke, goes very well with pork.
  3. Chipotle chili powder, with its own smoky character, pairs well with both bourbon and pork.

I found that mixing these ideas into the recipe for Cincinnati chili, which sometimes uses cinnamon, cloves and sugar in its own right, produces an interesting and worthwhile spin on an otherwise basic pot of chili.


1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. red beans*
1 large or two mid-sized red bell peppers, diced
1 mid-sized onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
7 or 8 ounces of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of chipotle chili powder
2 tablespoons of table sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 ounces of bourbon whiskey (about a shot and a half)

*This indicates soaked red beans. If you are starting with dried beans, use 2/3s of a pound.

Recipe Instructions
Put the ground pork into the pot, place the pot on the burner and turn the burner to medium heat.  Cook the pork until it is grayed/browned, and then drain it of most of its grease. Add the diced onions and bell peppers and minced garlic to the pot, and continue cooking until the vegetables are softened.

Open the can of diced tomatoes and pour in the contents, including the fluid. Pour in the tomato sauce (the amount equals half a can), and then fill the can with water and pour that in as well. Add the red beans, stir them in, and then add all of the seasonings, including the bourbon whiskey. Stir them in as well, bring the pot up to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer the contents, stirring occasionally, for one hour.

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  1. There is an error in the recipe. You drink the burbon as the last step. Burbon evaporates in the sauce.

    • The alcohol partly or completely evaporates, but that leaves plenty of other stuff behind. It’s just vodka that is all alcohol and water, after all, which is why I don’t drink the stuff.

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