January 30, 2017

Award-Winning Recipe: Bacon-Turkey-Tequila Chili

Last night, a hiking Meetup group I’m in organized a chili cookoff. While most people simply wanted to eat chili and contribute an appetizer/drink, I was one of about a dozen people who signed up to cook chili and be in the competition. Chili has always been one of my favorite dishes to make – it’s quick and easy, comes out great almost every time (and any mistakes can easily be covered up with sour cream or cheese), and it was the first thing I ever learned to cook, back in college.

In the last ten years (also: I cannot believe I’m already ten years out of college!), my chili recipe has evolved from that basic chicken chili I linked above. I keep experimenting with different recipes I’ve found online, and tried incorporating a few elements of one and a few elements of another. The recipe that I decided to enter in the contest was similar to a version I made for friends last fall, and my friends said they loved it, but I didn’t really know how it would stack up in an actual competition.

About halfway through the cooking process – it smelled delicious, but would it taste spectacular? I hoped so.

Well, turns out my friends’ praise was genuine: my chili ended up winning third place in the contest! (And it was a blind taste test, so I don’t think I got a boost from the fun-sounding “tequila” in the name… which is only fair given that the alcohol is cooked off anyway.)

I was so surprised when I stopped hanging out with friends and headed back over to the chili table to see this 3rd place ribbon on my slow cooker!

So with that awesomely unexpected result, I figured I’d write down the recipe as I made it, and share it with all of you. Try it for your Superbowl party this Sunday!


Bacon-Turkey-Tequila Chili

A smoky, spicy chili that's lightened up by the turkey... but still gets some indulgent rich flavor from the bacon and tequila. This recipe can be made in a slow cooker or on the stove.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Cuisine Tex-Mex
Servings 8 2-cup servings


  • 1/4 pound bacon diced
  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 3 oz tequila
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 large onion diced
  • 2 tbsp chipotle sauce (Look for either chipotle-in-adobo or salsa chipotle in the Mexican section of your grocery store. You may want to use less depending on your spice preference.)
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 42 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 30 ounces pinto beans


  • Heat a large nonstick frying pan, then add your diced bacon. Allow the bacon to cook, but don't pour off the (delicious) bacon fat - this will add flavor and depth to your chili.
  • Once the bacon has rendered its fat (about three minutes), add the ground turkey. Use a fork to cut/toss the turkey, ensuring it cooks into crumbles instead of one large mass. This is a lot of turkey to brown at once! (You can also brown one batch at a time, if your pan isn't large enough.) Cooking time will vary based on the size/depth of your pan.
  • When the turkey juices have cooked off and the pan is mostly dry, pour in two shots of tequila and allow the alcohol to cook off. In the meantime, add your spices: cumin, coriander, paprika, marjoram, allspice, garlic, and of course, salt and pepper.
  • You have two options from here. If you're in a hurry, you can finish your chili on the stove: just add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. If you've got more time and don't want to hang around the stove, dump the contents of the pan and the rest of your ingredients (beans, tomatoes, onions, chipotle sauce, and worcestershire sauce) into a slow cooker. Give it a stir and cook on high for 2-3 hours. The longer you cook it, the more the beans will disintegrate, turning it into a thick sauce rather than distinct components.
  • Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, cilantro, or any of your other favorite chili toppings.

And if you’re not cooking for a crowd, this recipe is perfect for freezing. I have about a dozen of these two cup Pyrex glass storage containers that I always use to freeze my leftovers, giving me a huge supply of ready-to-eat single portion meals in my freezer that are perfect for dinner in a hurry. And I may have packaged up some chili “leftovers” before I headed to the contest. Luckily, I didn’t run out of chili at the event 😉

These containers are the BEST! The lids make them spillproof, but because they’re glass I can pop them directly into the microwave without worrying about chemicals leaching into my food.

Anyone else ever entered a cooking contest? One of my favorite books as a kid was the old-fashioned Ginnie and the Cooking Contest, and I’m now pretty proud that I’ve done so well in my own 🙂


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Join the List

Subscribe for instant email notification of new posts.

Join the List

Subscribe for instant email notification of new posts.

© 2023 by 50by25. All rights reserved. Actions taken from the hyperlinks on this blog may yield commissions for 50by25. View my FTC disclaimer.

Scroll to Top