Smoked Brisket Chili 101 | A Guide to the Recipes, Toppings, and More

November 20, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Whenever we make brisket at home, and there are leftovers, I know what that means… If we don’t warm the steak and eat it that way with sides, we are most likely doing a chili cook-off. First, I take the leftover briskets, wrap them up tight in aluminum foil, and freeze them in the freezer. And when the craving strikes, I pull those leftovers out, put them in homemade chili, and sautee them together. Believe me when I say cooked brisket chili is that easy to make. 

I’ve fine-tuned this chili recipe over the years. From sautéing the perfect blend of vegetables to incorporating the right spices and, of course, adding that smoked brisket. So, join me in discovering the ultimate way to enjoy those savory brisket leftovers in a bowl of pure chili bliss. But first, what exactly is it we call smoked brisket chili?

smoked brisket chili

What is Smoked Brisket Chili?

Smoked brisket chilies are a hearty flavor-packed dish containing smoked leftover barbecue brisket. The brisket leftovers or pieces are smashed into the comforting warmth of chili. 

The chili here is usually thick tomato sauce topped with savory veggies, beans, and spices. Some common toppings I like to add include sour cream, green onions, and grated cheddar cheese.

In other words, the smoked brisket chili process involves sautéing a medley of veggies, adding the right blend of spices, tossing in the smoky chopped brisket, and adding a topping. 

Smoked Brisket Chili Recipe

The chili leftover brisket recipe is the most efficient way of using the grilled meat left over. Here’s how to create a tasty and filling chili that will be a family favorite.


  • Leftover smoked barbecue brisket
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (depending on the brisket size)
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ground black pepper (according to how spicy you want it)
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Cumin (depending on how much you enjoy that warm, earthy flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (depending on how smoky you want your chili to be)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 to 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cans of crushed tomatoes
  • Fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans
Raw Brisket with Cooking Ingredients


Step 1: Thaw the Brisket 

Since we’re talking about leftover brisket, you may have had it kept in the fridge or freezer. So the first thing we are doing is thaw it in cold water before starting our recipe. 

To thaw it, take that foil pack of brisket and put it on the lowest shelf of the fridge. It will take the brisket between 24 to 48 hours to thaw completely. 

If you want to thaw it faster, place the leftover brisket in cold water for 30 minutes to an hour. You may need something heavy to weigh down the brisket because it might float. 

Step 2: Slice the Veggies

Slice the red pepper, green pepper, white onion, and jalapeno. Then pour them into small bowls. You may also have them in a bowl big enough to contain the sliced veggies. 

Step 3: Turn on the Stove 

Turn the stove on to medium heat, grab a large Dutch oven or skillet, and add some drizzles of olive oil. 

Step 4: Saute Those Veggies

Now add the veggies one by one and start sautéing the veggies. Let them caramelize and fill your kitchen with that aroma.

Step 5: Spice It Up

Time to add some magic to those veggies! Sprinkle in some kosher salt, ground black pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder. Give it all a good mix until everything is nicely incorporated.

Step 6: Bring in the Tomatoes

Now, let’s get those tomatoes in the chili party! Pour in the crushed tomatoes and add those fire-roasted tomatoes for that smoky charred goodness.

Step 7: Add the Beans

Don’t forget the beans! Add the black beans and the dark red kidney beans to the mix. 

Step 8: Introduce the Leftover Smoked Brisket

Here comes the star of the show – the smoked brisket! Crumble the brisket right into the chili. Feel free to add as much as you want, depending on how hearty you like your chili. Chuck roast works too for this recipe.

Step 9: Let It Smoke

Time to introduce your chili to some wood smoke! Hickory wood chips like the Mr. Bar-B-Q Hardwood Chips are some of my go-to for smoky flavor when using my charcoal or gas grill.  

Pop some into the smoker box while the smoker itself is at around 250-275 degrees.

Step 10: Concentrate the Flavor

After about 45 minutes, remove the lid and let the chili get even smoky and concentrated. Give it a stir and let it roll for another 30-45 minutes. You can let it go longer if you want that flavor to reach its peak.

Step 11: Top It Off

Once it’s done smoking, serve it up! Grab a bowl and spoon some of that delightful chili in. Now, it’s time to get creative with the toppings. I like to go for a dollop of sour cream, some fresh green onions, and a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese.

Step 12: Dive In

Finally, dig into that bowl of smoky, savory, and satisfying smoked brisket chili. The tender brisket, the spices, the veggies, and that perfect balance of flavors will have you reaching for seconds in no time!

Need a visual guide to this recipe? Then you should check this out:

Why Does This Recipe Work?

This recipe works for several reasons making it a winning choice for any barbecue enthusiast.

You’re Making Good Use of Leftovers

First, this is a brilliant way to make the most of your smoked brisket. So you don’t have to let your delicious brisket go to waste because you couldn’t finish it on the first go. 

Also, you don’t need to purchase a 15-pound brisket packer because you want some chili recipe. 

Flavorful and Delicious 

A meaty chili dish doesn’t look or taste like a leftover quality dish. No one says no to this!

Once that tender, smoky brisket joins the chili party. It’s a taste explosion that’s always welcomed by your taste buds. 

Nutrition Calories That Fill You Up

Hungry? Oh yeah! This hearty chili combo of brisket, beans, and veggies is pure satisfaction in a bowl. In each 8-fluid-ounce serving of a typical brisket chili, you’re looking at an average of 404 calories, 25 grams of carbs, 19 grams of fat, and 32 grams of protein. Of course, keep in mind that these values will change based on the ingredients and their quantities used.

Your Way, Always

Flexibility is the name of the game here. You can adjust the brisket and toppings to fit your cravings and the crowd you’re feeding.

Easy Peasy

You don’t have to stress over complicated recipes! This one’s a breeze with simple steps and everyday ingredients.

More Brisket in Chili Recipes

Looking for more ways to amp up your chili game with brisket? I’ve got some more killer chili recipes you can try. Let’s dive in!

Spicy Chipotle Brisket Chili

Looking for a chili recipe with a better kick than the one shared earlier? This Spicy Chipotle Brisket Chili is a flavor explosion in every spoonful for you. The chili is slow-cooked with tender brisket flat, chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce. 

Add your own chili blend, garlic powder, and salt to amp up the heat and taste. With smoked beef brisket adding that smoky flavor, you won’t be able to resist!

Texas-Style Brisket Chili

This is a bean-free, authentic Texas chili brisket packed with deliciousness. I always start by searing and seasoning brisket cubes to perfection, creating a rich flavor foundation. 

But the secret ingredients are Texas chili powders like Gebhardt's or Mexene for that genuine Tex-Mex taste. Trust me; homemade chili powder just won’t cut it. Let this chili simmer for 4-5 hours until the brisket melts into the broth and reaches tender, mouthwatering perfection.

Serve it with your favorite toppings like cheddar cheese, onion, Fritos, and hot sauce. This makes an epic Frito pie too! 

Spicy Slow Cooker Brisket Chili

The Smoky Slow Cooker is the definition of hassle-free and delicious. Just toss in that leftover brisket, some chipotle peppers, and your secret chili blend into the slow cooker. 

When I say slow cooker, I’m talking about something like the Crock-Pot Manual Slow Cooker. It’s the best there is online. But hey, if you can’t afford this right now, use what you’ve got. I hear a covered Dutch oven over low or medium-high heat works fine too. 

Make sure you sprinkle in a bit of garlic powder, a splash of hot sauce, and a pinch of salt to take those flavors to the next level. 

Brisket and Pinto Bean Chili

Pinto beans and brisket are a match made in chili heaven. Combine the tender brisket, hearty beans, and powdered chili mix using a slow-cooked method in a skillet, crockpot, or slow cooker.  

Then it’s time to sprinkle in some garlic powder and a touch of salt to kick things up a notch. This chili recipe is perfect for game day or when you just want to cozy up with some seriously tasty comfort food.

Delightful Combination of Pinto Beans and Brisket in Chili

Garlic and Hot Sauce Brisket Chili

Calling all garlic lovers, this one’s for you! The Garlic and Hot Sauce Brisket Chili recipe requires slow-cooking a tender brisket flat with a symphony of spices.  You’ll also be including garlic powder for that extra punch. 

And here comes the fire! Finish it off with a hot splash of sauce. Oh yeah! Don’t forget your homemade powdered chili blend and a pinch of salt to make those taste buds sing. 

Smoky Chipotle Beef Brisket Chili

Looking for a chili with a smoky twist? This Smoky Chipotle Brisket Chili recipe combines the rich flavors of cooked brisket and ground beef with the spicy goodness of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. 

Add your unique powder chili mix, a sprinkle of powdered garlic, and some salt for that perfect balance of flavors. Let it simmer away in the slow cooker, and you’ll have a smokin’ hot chili ready to impress.

3 Tips for Making Smoked Brisket Chili

If you really want to give smoked brisket chili a try with your leftover beef briskets, you may consider these suggestions:

Flavorful Additions

To take your leftover brisket chili to the next level, consider adding a few flavorful ingredients. Try incorporating chipotle pepper in the sauce for a smoky kick. 

You may also try out a variety of beans, like pinto beans, for extra texture. You may also sprinkle some garlic powder to enhance the savoriness of the chili. That is if you like it spicy!

Make Your Own Chili Powder

Why not? You may also customize your chili’s flavor by creating your chili mix. The truth is you won’t find the right powder mix that meets your taste profile.  

What I do is combine spices like cumin, paprika, onion powder, and ground chili. Then you play with the quantity based on what you prioritize most. That’s how to achieve a well-balanced taste that suits your palate. This DIY chili powder will add a unique twist to your dish.

Sear and Season the Brisket

Before adding the brisket to the chili, you may also take the time to sear the brisket in bacon fat. This step creates a rich, brown crust on the meat. It also enhances the overall flavor of the chili. 

But before you start, cut the brisket into cubes. Then season the cubed brisket with kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Now sear the brisket cubes for that perfect taste. Now you can meld it up in the chili recipe. 

Cubed Brisket Slices with Cooking Ingredients

10 Ideas for Toppings

Smoked beef chili is quite amazing by itself, but it has some interesting toppings. Here are some delicious ideas to take your chili game to the next level:

  1. Sprinkle some sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend cheese over the chili for a creamy and cheesy finish.
  2. Add a dollop of sour cream on top to balance the smoky flavors and add a cool, tangy element.
  3. Freshly chopped green onions bring a pop of color and a subtle onion flavor to complement the chili.
  4. For a burst of freshness, add some chopped cilantro leaves on the top.
  5. If you like it spicy, add some pickled jalapenos for an extra kick.
  6. Creamy avocado slices add a lovely creaminess and a touch of healthy fat to your chili.
  7. You may also create a delightful texture by sprinkling some crushed tortilla chips over the chili.
  8. A squeeze of lime juice can brighten up the flavors and add a zesty twist to the chili.
  9. If you want even more heat, drizzle some of your favorite sauce over the chili.
  10. Finally, you can also crumble some cornbread on top for a delightful contrast of sweet and savory.

Feel free to mix and match these toppings to suit your taste and create your signature smoked brisket chili bowl! The possibilities are endless, so get creative and enjoy a bowl of chili customized just the way you like it.

Slow Cooking vs. Smoker Method

You probably noticed in some of the recipes that two cooking methods were mostly used; slow cooking or smoking. Which should you go for?

I’d say both slow cooking and smoking can produce delicious smoked meat chili. But the choice between the two methods depends on your preferences and available equipment.

Slow Cooking Method

If you’re all about convenience and don’t wanna babysit your chili, slow cooking is the way to go! You just need to toss everything in your slow cooker and let the magic happen. Should you not have a slow smoker, a heavy-bottomed large pot on the stove also works. 

Let the flavors cozy up together over a few hours to give you that comforting and delicious dish you crave. No smoker? No problem! 

Smoker Method

Now, if you’re a die-hard fan of that smoky wood taste, listen up! Smoking the brisket brings a whole new level of flavor you won’t get elsewhere. It gives your chili that distinct and hard-to-replicate smokiness. 

But smoking is never a walk in the park. It takes more time and attention. You need to light the smoke and keep the smoke regulated. You have to add water and wood chips on the go, and you’d need more time sitting around and monitoring things to keep things just right. But hey, if you love the art of smoking meats, this is the jackpot!

It’s Decision Time

So, which path will you choose? If you’re all about that smoky kick and got yourself a good smoker, go on and embrace the smoker method. 

But if you want to keep things simple and fuss-free, the slow cooking method is. You can rock a regular slow cooker or use a crock pot or Dutch oven on your stove – life is easy!

Delicious Smoked Meat Chili Served on the Dish


1. How to Make Smoked Chopped Brisket?

To make smoked chopped brisket, get your smoker or grill fired up and throw that beef brisket on there. Let it soak in all that flavor and cook until it’s tender. Once it’s done, let it rest for a little while. Now grab a sharp knife to chop it into bite-sized pieces. Voilà! You’ve got yourself some smoked chopped brisket ready to be the star of your recipes. 

2. How Can I Thicken the Chili?

Just let it simmer away uncovered. That way, all that liquid can evaporate and leave you with a thick and luscious consistency.

You can also mix up a little cornstarch or flour with water and stir it into the chili. Watch that texture thicken up like magic.

Would you like to add some extra oomph to your chili? Throw in some mashed beans or crushed tortilla chips. They’ll not only make it thicker but also give it a burst of flavor. 

3. How Long Does It Take to Cook Brisket Chili?

If you’re rocking a slow cooker, you’ll be dancing to the chili tunes for about 4 to 6 hours on low to medium-high heat. Now, if you’re giving that brisket chili some smoky love in the smoker, it’ll take around 3 to 4 hours. Yes, the smoker method takes that long, but the difference is in the taste. 

4. How Long Will Chili Keep?

Your chili will happily hang out there for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Want to store it for longer? You can freeze that chili delight for 4 to 6 months, and it’ll be there to warm your heart on a chilly day. When it’s time to reheat, let it thaw overnight in the fridge and then heat it on the stove or zap it in the microwave. 

5. Does Chili Have to Have Beans?

Traditional chilis are made from beans. But you don’t find them all the time in chili brisket recipes. In some parts of the U.S., especially in Texas, chili purists will tell you that authentic chili is bean-free. They believe chili should be all about the meat, spices, and flavors, and beans have no place in the mix.

However, beans make chilis a little richer to make leftovers. I love them too. So I think this is your call!


You have all the secrets to the perfect smoked chili brisket recipe to yourself now. There are a lot of ways to bell this cat – I mean, that leftover brisket. If you’re really down for it or have a large gathering waiting and trusting on your culinary creation, using a packer brisket is cool too. It gets you a fresh and better-tasting end product. Also, there’s no fast rule on what the perfect chili ingredient mix is or even the cooking method. It’s all about making decisions here and putting your creativity into action. 

So, save those leftovers and enjoy the chili love. If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments. Happy chili-making!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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