Paleo Chipotle Chili

Paleo Chipotle Chili
Posting a recipe for Paleo Chipotle Chili today seems especially appropriate. I am traveling back to my home state of Texas for the Paleo FX Symposium 2012 in Austin. It was an early morning for me today, beginning with my 3:30 a.m. alarm, but made better by the pink sunrise highlighting the dark Manhattan skyline upon take-off. The wonders of technology help me finish this post on my flight – thanks to my handy dandy iPad2 (which is only slightly less cool now that the third version is out!)

Before waxing too poetic about sunrises and iPads I’ll get back to the subject at hand -Paleo Chili. Chili may seem sort of obviously Paleo by its nature – lots of meat, a sauce, maybe onions and peppers. But I’m specifically calling this one Paleo to emphasize there are no beans and no sugars and there are a couple of “hidden” veggies. I like to include chopped mushrooms in a lot of my ground beef dishes. It’s a great way to add volume, texture, nutrition and a little extra flavor without a lot of carbohydrates – unlike the beans often found in many chili recipes. The fire roasted green chiles do much the same job while also adding another level of dish appropriate flavor. I have even been known to incorporate finely chopped kale in chili. Well, actually I’m not really “known” for it because I am not sure anyone ever noticed that little trick.


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 oz portobello mushrooms, finely diced
  • 2, 4 oz cans of green chiles (I used Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Green Chiles)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2-3 teaspoons sea salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (or more to taste)


  • Brown the ground beef in a large pan or stock pot. Remove to a separate dish.
  • Add the bacon fat to the hot pan and then the diced onion. Sauté the onions on medium heat until translucent – about 8-10 minutes.
  • While the onion is cooking, use a food processor to finely chop the mushrooms. You can also use a knife to do this (it’s just faster and easier to get the mushrooms finely chopped with a food processor.)
  • Add the browned ground beef, the chopped mushrooms, chiles, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and all the spices to the pot with the onions.
  • Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally.
  • After one hour you should taste the chili and adjust the salt and black pepper or even the chipotle peppers until you reach your own perfect level of chipotle chili taste.
  • For me, the 4 teaspoons of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is not too hot. In fact, I could really take it hotter but I have found people have such wildly varying tastes for the heat in chili I am reluctant to recommend much more than that. Growing up my mother often served white rice along with chili and we topped it with grated cheese and chopped onions. Obviously, I won’t be recommending rice unless it is cauliflower rice which would actually go great with Paleo Chipotle Chili.

    So there you have it. I hope to be able to enjoy some Paleo chili on my trip to Texas along with some other great Tex-Mex food. In fact, my roommates and I have already scoped out a place for dinner tonight on 6th Street that will cater to our Paleo tastes. Look for some posts about my trip in the coming days!

    Thanks for stopping by!

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    10 thoughts on “Paleo Chipotle Chili

    1. Looks great. Just curious why beans aren’t paleo. Haven’t they been digested my latinos and Hispanics for thousands of years? Just don’t get why beans can crack the paleo circle?

      • Brian, there are several reasons legumes are generally not eaten by people following this way of eating. Beans have a lot of “anti-nutrients” that make them difficult to digest and inhibit the absorption of other nutrients. (You can read more about the science of that in books like “The Paleo Solution” and others). Legumes are also high in carbohydrates without a lot of nutrition when compared to either meat or vegetables. They have protein but it is a lower quality than meat protein. If legumes are properly prepared -like soaking and sprouting and fermenting – they can be a legitimate food source. Unfortunately, even though many cultures do prepare legumes this way, most people do not.
        My son and I both have legume intolerances and oral allergies. We find we feel much better and our digestion runs much more smoothly when we eliminate beans.
        I hope that helps.

    2. Love your recipes, and appreciate all the work that goes into testing and displaying them for us. Thank you! I have a suggestion, and that would be to add a print button or download pdf version plugin to your WordPress. Here are a couple of examples (I’m sure there are plenty more to choose:

      • Thank you for the compliments. I already have a print plugin at the bottom of every post. The print-friendly button allows you to delete the photos and othe parts of the post so you can only print the recipe and instructions.

    3. Hey Lea,
      What brand of “chipotle peppers in adobo sauce” do you use? All the ones that my stores carry have sugar in them…

      • Caroline,
        I usually use La Costena brand Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. It does have some sugar (and soybean oil for that matter). But those are toward the end of the list of ingredients so there’s very little of it. And because the peppers are so spicy, a small amount goes a long way. Any sugar from this particular ingredient is totally negligible in a recipe, in my opinion. It is a gluten free brand and that is what is most important to me in this case because even a tiny amount of gluten can cause a reaction in a sensitive person. Some other brands have high-fructose corn syrup and corn oil so I prefer this brand if given the choice. Not sure if there are any brands that have absolutely no sugar but I’d be interested to hear if anyone knows of one.

    4. This was sooooo gooooood! In Hawaii, the chili we make is very different and I was so over it ;) so happy I found your recipe!

    5. Made this the other dow – WOW!! So tasty that I didn’t even miss the beans! I cut the mushrooms a little larger to give more texture too. How many servings and how many calories per serving?

    6. Pingback: Paleo Super Bowl Recipes

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