Game Day Recipes + Dad’s Famous Chili Recipe

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My dad’s famous, award-winning, much loved secret chili recipe! Plus: awesome recipes you can make in less than 10 minutes for last minute Game Day treats.

My Dad's famous, award-winning, secret recipe for Chili!

I know, I know. The world has turned upside down. Where are the cookies? The fudge? The cupcakes? Where’s the chocolate and the butter and sugar??

Don’t worry. I’ve definitely got some sweet stuff for you today that will be PERFECT for those last minute treats you need to whip up in time for your Game Day parties.

But first: CHILI. Hearty, meaty, manly, quick and easy, FOOTBALL chili.

Not just any chili. And definitely not your typical recipe. This is my dad’s famous, award-winning, secret recipe chili. This is the chili I grew up eating and loving, and I can’t eat chili any other way. My dad has won a bazillion chili cook-offs with this simple recipe, and now I’m sharing it with you.

Don’t worry. He won’t mind. It’s only “top secret” because he can’t ever remember how he makes it! ???? One time when I was in college, I made him call me while he was mixing up a batch and wrote down every ingredient with approximate measurements (since he just tosses everything in according to taste, no measuring!) as he added them. And that’s the way I’ve made my chili ever since.

My Dad's famous, award-winning, secret recipe for Chili!

I mentioned that this recipe is a little unconventional.  That’s because, as my husband puts it, it’s basically glorified tomato sauce.

Hang on, just stick with me. It’s GOOD. I promise.

Here’s how it goes:

You need meat. Like, a lot of meat. There are NO BEANS in this recipe. Just lots and lots and lots of meat. When I asked me dad why he didn’t use beans in his chili, he said beans would just take up space that he would rather use for meat. Sound reasoning in my opinion ????. Ground beef grosses me out, so I always use ground turkey. But that’s totally your call.

Brown sugar. This is key. The sweetness gives this chili it’s signature taste that will have your guests coming back for bowl after bowl.

Next up: TOMATO SAUCE. This is really the golden ingredient where flavor is concerned. I love using Ragu. Their tradition of using high-quality ingredients is something I can depend on for achieving the best flavor. You’ll need TWO 45-ounce jars of Ragu® tomato sauce. Sam’s Club sells this size in a 3-pack, and it’s a pretty great value. Plus, Ragu® is an awesome staple ingredient to buy in bulk anyway. Save a jar for spaghetti night orrrrrrr– you could make a huge batch of chili AND this pizza dip that I’ve been dying to try for the big game tonight.

Stock up at Sam’s Club! Photo included with permission from Swanky Recipes.

But I digress.

Back to the chili. How about I just show you how to make it? My brother and I teamed up again to bring you another stellar video! This one is my favorite so far. Check it out and let me know what you think:

Now, my dad likes to let his chili slow cook on low for several hours to really let the flavors marry together. But I’m not much of a planner, and I’ve made it a million times in less than an hour. It’s still amazing. So don’t worry, you can totally pull this off for tonight with minimal prep time. If you don’t have an hour, just skip the simmering and make sure it’s heated through.

My Dad's famous, award-winning, secret recipe for Chili!

And the only right way to serve chili? With heaping amounts of shredded cheddar, sour cream, and corn chips.

There you have it! This chili is an award-winning tradition in our family, and now you can make it yours.


My Dad's famous, award-winning, secret recipe for Chili!

Dad's Famous Chili

Yield: 15-20 servings (1-1/2 cups)

My dad's famous, award-winning, much loved secret chili recipe! Plus: awesome recipes you can make in less than 10 minutes for last minute game day treats.


  • 3 lbs ground turkey or beef
  • 2-45 ounce Ragu® tomato sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)


Brown ground turkey or beef and drain fat.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Stirring frequently, *cook on medium-high until heated through. Let simmer for 1 hour on low.

Serve with cheese, sour cream, and corn chips.


*alternately, cook on low in a slow cooker for up to 8 hours

My Dad's famous, award-winning, secret recipe for Chili!

Ok, I promised you some dessert!! These are my top-5 favorite recipes that can be made in 10 minutes or less and would be PERFECT for any Game Day party:

My Top 5 Favorite Desserts you can make in 10 minutes or less. Perfect recipes for parties!

Ultimate Peanut Butter Popcorn (video in sidebar):

Ultimate Peanut Butter Popcorn

Monster Cookie Dip:

Monster Cookie Dough Dip

White Chocolate Churro Chex Mix:

White Chocolate Churro Chex Mix

Peanut Butter S’mores Dip:

Peanut Butter S'mores Dip

Peanut Butter Pretzel Muddy Buddies:

Peanut Butter Pretzel Muddy Buddies

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ragu®. The opinions and text are all mine.

Speaking of game-day recipes, try our Pillsbury pigs-in-a-blanket! They go great with this famous chili recipe.

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