“Cumin Get It” Chili

Cumin’s been around a long, long time.  Ancient Egyp­tians used cumin dur­ing mum­mi­fi­ca­tion. No, really.


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Cumin’s been around a long, long time.  Ancient Egyp­tians used cumin dur­ing mum­mi­fi­ca­tion. Medieval folks believed that cumin kept chick­ens and lovers from run­ning away. Cumin was once used as legal tin­der for tax pay­ment. It’s is the sec­ond most pop­u­lar spice in the world after black pep­per.1

But we don’t do any of those things any­more: Today, cumin is the secret weapon of chiliphiles to make good chili great chili.

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medi­um diced onion
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef 
    • Option: 80% or low­er is okay; just brown the beef sep­a­rate­ly and drain off the fat
  • 1 (16 oz.) can red kid­ney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 12 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz.) can toma­to sauce
  • 2 tbsp. toma­to paste
  • 2 12 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp.ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp. gran­u­lat­ed sugar
  • 1 tbsp. gar­lic powder 
    • Option: Use 2 tsp. minced gar­lic instead (when a recipe calls for gar­lic pow­der, I almost always use the real thing. But that’s just because I’m classy and tasteful)
  • 1 12 tsp. salt
  • 12 tsp. ground black pepper 
    • Option: 14 tsp. ground cayenne pepper


Put the chili pow­der, cumin, gran­u­lat­ed sug­ar, gar­lic pow­der, salt, pep­per, and option­al cayenne pep­per in a bowl. Set aside.

Put the olive oil into a large soup pot and put it over medi­um-high heat for 3 min­utes. Add the diced onion and sweat or caramelize it to taste.

Option 1:

If you’re using 90-per­cent lean ground beef, add it to the pot. Brown the beef, stir­ring occasionally.

Option 2:

If you’re using 85-per­cent or low­er ground beef, remove the soup pot from heat. Brown the ground beef in a sep­a­rate skil­let; drain it, then add it to the soup pot.2

Add the drained and rinsed kid­ney beans, beef broth, petite diced toma­toes,  toma­to sauce, and toma­to paste. If you’re using minced gar­lic, add it. Stir thoroughly. 

Nab that bowl of spices and slow­ly add them to the soup pot, stir­ring constantly.

Bring the chili to a gen­tle boil for a few min­utes, then reduce heat to a slow sim­mer. Cov­er and sim­mer for 30 min­utes, stir­ring occasionally.



  1. My lawyers tell me I have to warn you not to mum­mi­fy any­one, put cumin on your SO and/or chick­ens, or try to pay your tax­es with it.
  2. My lawyers tell me I have to remind you to put the soup pot back on the burn­er so it will con­tin­ue cook­ing. Stu­pid lawyers.