Classic Chili or Wisconsin Style Chili

Classic Chili or Wisconsin Style Chili

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Classic Chili or Wisconsin Style Chili

This is our recipe for Classic Chili or Wisconsin Style Chili. It’s a recipe I have been making for many years. I always made a big pot of this delicious chili every year on Halloween. Nothing hits the spot better than a hot, steamy bowl of chili when you come in from the cold. Serve with lots of  buttered saltine crackers and a sprinkle of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Doesn’t get much better than that! This chili is perfect.

classic chili
classic chili

Recipe Has Changed Over Time

My sister Barb gave me this recipe many years ago. The recipe was very basic and since then I have tweaked this recipe several times. It’s still a very simple recipe but very delicious all the same. Bowls of chili are great to serve during or after football games, ice skating or after a day of snowmobiling. Bring a thermos along with you when you go hunting or ice fishing. This chili recipe will warm you up and hit the spot every time.

Wisconsin Style Chili

If you aren’t from the Upper Midwest you are probably wondering why this recipe is called Wisconsin Style Chili.  If you are from the Upper Midwest, you know why:) Here in the Upper Midwest, and definitely in my family, chili isn’t chili unless it has noodles or elbow macaroni added to it. Another Upper Midwest absolute must, the only beans added to chili are kidney beans. With that being said, here are a few other “rules”

A Few Rules

Classic Wisconsin Style is never served “over” the noodles, noodles are added to the chili. Grated cheddar cheese can be served on top of the chili, but this is a recent development (at least in my family). The only beans used are light or dark red kidney beans. Chili powder is usually the only seasoning added besides salt and pepper. Always add chopped onion and celery, maybe chopped green peppers. Ground beef is the meat of choice.

Optional Ingredients

The recipe below for  Classic Chili or Wisconsin Style Chili, that my sister Barb gave me 40 years ago. The ingredients that have an * after it, indicates that ingredient was added over the years. Never ever serve Wisconsin Style chili with oyster crackers. Saltines only! Give both recipes a try, the classic version and the spicier version. Let me know which one you like best:)

I guess it would be a fair statement to say, that this recipe with the added ingredients (* after it) breaks a few of the “rules.” Yes, That would be correct. But sometimes rules are meant to be broken! Another recipe that will hit the spot on a cold day, Easy Tortellini Lentil Soup


classic chili


4.5 from 2 votes
Classic Chili or Wisconsin Style Chil
Prep Time
15 mins

A delicious and hearty chili that is perfect on a cold evening.

Course: Soup
Keyword: chili
Servings: 12 servings
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage*
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 1 46 oz can tomato juice
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with diced green chilies*
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chilies*
  • 2 10 3/4 oz cans condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 1 soup can water
  • 1 14 oz can beef broth*
  • 1 16 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz can black beans*
  • 2 16 oz cans chili beans in chili sauce, hot or mild*
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes*
  • 3 bay leaves*
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 envelope chili seasoning mix (McCormick)*
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cavatappi noodles or noodles of your choice, cooked and drained
  • shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese*
  1. In a large soup pot, brown ground beef, sausage, celery, onion, green pepper and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Add tomato juice, diced tomatoes, diced tomatoes with green chilies, diced green chilies, tomato soup, water, beef broth, kidney beans, black beans, chili beans, chili powder, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, brown sugar, envelope chili seasoning mix, salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour or longer.
  3. Stir in noodles, cook, uncovered for 10 minutes or until heated through.
  4. Before serving, discard bay leaves and top bowls of chili with shredded cheese.
Recipe Notes

My sister gave me this recipe many years ago. All ingredients with an * after it have been added to the original recipe over the years. 

Looking for more delicious recipes?? Try these…Warm Turkey Fiesta DipGreen and Gold Corn Dip and Grape Jelly Meatballs.

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4 thoughts on “Classic Chili or Wisconsin Style Chili”

  • You are right the chili recipe is basic. I was brought up in central wisconsin and my mother always made it with hamburger, red kidney beans, tomato juice and elbow noodles. I’ve always made it that way, either my taste buds are different now that I’m older but it seems to not be as hot as I remember. I wasn’t brought up eating red/green peppers, green chilies and things like that cuz my dad wasn’t allowed to have them (dr. orders) but it was so good anyways. I’m going to try just a couple of your spices to see if I like it. Thanks for the suggestions

    • Hello Chris,
      My mom only used onions in her chili and only chili powder. Over the years I’ve added more spices. My hubby is a ‘chili head’ but I’m not..even though I can tolerate more spice now that I’m older:)

  • G'day! Your photo reminds me of the chili we used to have when I was little, true!
    Thank you for allowing me to relive that memory through your recipe too!
    Cheers! Joanne
    Viewed as part of Food Friends Friday Chili Party

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