HomeMain Dish Smokey Lamb Chili

Smokey Lamb Chili

Posted in : Main Dish, Dinner on by : Barbie Gminder

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It’s cold and there’s still snow on the ground from Tuesday which means the conditions are perfect for a hearty meal! I’ll use any excuse to cook chili, though, and I make like 100 different kinds. Maybe someday I’ll write a chili-specific cookbook. Who knows.

Kevin's Famous Chili
It’s probably the thing I do best…eh, maybe second to tacos.

This chili features lamb, bacon, and liquid smoke. I’ve mentioned in a previous post how much I love lamb and how it’s way more versatile than people give it credit for. This is definitely one of the tastiest chili recipes I have made…and strangely enough, probably the most hipster-masculine.It should come to your table paired with the funkiest IPA from Colorado you can get your hands on. You become a flannel shirt when you smell it. This chili will instantly put a Manchester Orchestra song on repeat in your head and a 2-year-beard on your face (mustache waxed and all, mind you) after the first bite. It tastes like what lumberjacks look like.

Maybe it’s the bacon? Maybe it’s the smoke? I’m not sure, but we told our very hipster foodie brewery bartender friend about this chili and he almost fainted on the spot. (I forgot to bring him a bowl as promised because I’m an asshole. Sorry, Jesse!)

All the ingredients to this recipe for lamb chili
Sans some seasoning, this is pretty much all you need to make this.

Honestly, everything to the left of the meat in the photo are the basic ingredients to making chili. You can add what you want from there. Our grocery store had lamb and bacon on sale so that’s what I decided on this time. Oh, and they had Aloha peppers! Sweet and beautifully colored, these peppers became my favorite for topping salads, pizzas, roasted on homemade hummus, and for putting in chili. I once brought one to work for lunch. Just the pepper. Ate it like an apple. No shame.

My super awesome little vegetable chopper

I’m gonna tell y’all a little secret about myself: I can’t chop very well.

Long story short, I suffered an injury to my right arm a few years ago which resulted in irreversible nerve damage and rendered my right hand useless for a long time. The good news is that I regained more usage of my lucky fin than doctors thought I ever would. The bad news is that I still have a tough time doing simple tasks – like chopping veggies.

So why am I telling you all of this on a recipe post? Because I found this awesome chopper in the clearance cart at Stop & Shop and I am in love with it! If you are a cook with a handicap, this is a game changer. And even if you can chop food like Gordon Ramsey, this thing saves so much time. Here are some links if you want to pick a similar one up for yourself:

Lamb chili, ingredients combined, before placing lid on and starting the cooking process

Back to the chili!

Here are some pointers before everyone gets to know each other in the pot:

  • “The trick is to undercook the onions.” Actually, I don’t cook the veggies at all before adding them to the crockpot. Why? I prefer the them to cook in the sauce with the meat and all the seasonings because it tastes a little more put together – like second day chili but on day one. Everyone knows second day soups and chilis are tastier.
  • I keep an empty can of tomato paste, fill it with chicken broth twice, and add it to the chili. To be clear, that’s 12 oz of chicken broth. Some people like super chunky chili so this step is totally optional, but I find it makes the perfect consistency for our personal preference.
  • The trick is to undercook the meat. Okay, I’m done making Kevin Malone jokes. Actually probably not, tbh. Just a heads up that you can undercook the meat and it will cook the rest of the way through in the crock pot.
  • Splurge on the cheese. If you’re going through all the trouble to make a special chili like this, why would you put pre-shredded store brand mild cheddar on it? I mean, I’m not judging if that’s what you have (I’ve done worse) but if you can, get something good. For this chili, I used Old Croc Bacon and Jalapeno Aged Cheddar. It was perfect.
  • Get yourself a good bread, too! You can always pair chili with cornbread but with all the bread you can choose from your local bakery (or bakery section), you’re free to expand your carb horizons. Anything from crusty sourdough to handmade tortillas (drenched in butter) will go with this chili. You could even find a fun bread recipe to make while this is slow cooking. Be creative!
Kevin Malone's winky face
I just wanted to fit one more Kevin gif in this post and this seemed like the right spot. Nope, it’s not Ashton Kutcher, it’s Kevin Malone.

I hope you guys enjoy this chili as much as we do. I will post a few other similar recipes this season like my classic farmhouse chili which features garden vegetables and my popular vegan chili if meat ain’t your thing or if you want a great recipe for Meatless Monday!

Pair this with the bomb-est IPA you can find from the hipster-est brewery in your neighborhood. Cheers <3

Smokey Lamb Chili

Recipe by Barbie GminderCourse: Dinner, MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 4 – 6 oz cans tomato paste

  • 1 – 28 oz can crushed tomato

  • 1 – 15 oz can kidney beans

  • 1 green bell pepper

  • 1 orange pepper

  • 1 yellow onion

  • 1 lb ground lamb

  • 1 pack bacon

  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

  • Seasonings
  • 3 tbsp chili powder

  • 2 tbsp cumin

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder

  • 2 tbsp onion powder

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1 tsp cayenne (more if you want it spicier)

  • 1 tsp pepper


  • Chop bacon into small pieces and heat in a pan until almost cooked through. Remove bacon from pan.
  • Brown the lamb in the pan with the bacon drippings. Doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through.
  • Chop onion and peppers.
  • Combine all ingredients and seasonings into crock pot.
  • Cook on high heat for 3 hours or low heat for at least 6 hours.
  • (OPTIONAL) If your chili is too thick add water or chicken broth, 6 oz at a time


  • You can reduce the cooking time if you sauté the peppers and onions with the lamb.
  • If I’m gonna be home all day, I cook this chili using a combo of high heat for 2 hours then low heat for 2 hours. If I’m going out or at work, I’ll cook it on low heat all day.

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