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Beef & Bean Chili for a Crowd

Updated in November, 2019.

Got some athletes to feed? In this article, I share how I hosted a swim team dinner using this beef and bean chili for a crowd.

chili bar with toppings

If you’ve read some of my dinner bar posts of the past, you know that I love serving meals using a self-service, build your own method.

No matter what the age, every child that comes to my Dinner Bar seems to like the independence this meal service option provides.

This week I am test-driving a Chili Bar, something I am planning to serve to the Girl’s Swimming & Diving team at our high school.

The night before a major swim meet, one parent hosts a team dinner. The entrée is the responsibility of the hostess/host, along with one other parent, and the sides are donated by a variety of parents.

It’s a nice tradition and certainly a team-building event.

Often, the girls are served pasta, but I wanted to change things up a bit this year, so I am offering chili as the basic entrée, with macaroni noodles and tortilla chips as a building base, and lots of toppings.

Why Crockpot Chili?

Well, anything made in the crockpot is just, well, easier.

This chili recipe showcases beef and beans, both terrific sources of protein and iron. For young female athletes, getting enough iron in the diet is always a priority.

The beef and beans will offer a much-needed source of protein to help their muscles recover and repair themselves (they will be coming in from a 2-hour swim practice).

It will also “fill them up” so they will be satisfied.

Beef, Bean & Beer Chili

Adding the pasta and tortilla chips gives the girls an option to build more carbs into the meal by piling the chili on top of macaroni (this is how my mom served chili when I was young) or opting for a chili nacho theme.

You may raise your eyebrows at the suggestion of beer in the recipe, but the alcohol burns off in the process of simmering.

Chili Bar toppings

Chili Toppings

We love to dress up our chili in the Castle home. Here are some suggested add-ons to make your bowl of chili even more satisfying.

Sliced green onions

Sliced black olives

Chopped tomatoes

Diced red onion

Jalapeno peppers

Shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses

Sour cream


How to Make a Chili Bar

Basically, to make a chili bar, you are simply arranging the chili and toppings alongside serving utensils so each person can make their way through the line and assemble their personal version of a bowl of chili.

Set the Dutch oven full of chili on a hot pad, along with a ladle for serving. 

Set out toppings in small bowls with spoons.

Set the tortilla chips and macaroni noodles on the side for variety.

What are your favorite chili toppings?

Chili Bar

Beef, Bean & Beer Chili

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

A great power combo of carbs, fiber and protein are included in this delicious, not too spicy chili.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, washed and sliced
  • 2 pounds ground beef (90% lean or higher)
  • 1, 15-ounce can of red kidney beans
  • 1, 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1, 12-ounce can of regular beer (any flavor is fine)
  • 2, 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce
  • 1, 4.5-ounce can of chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large soup pot, saute onion and celery in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef, cook thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, drain and rinse beans and add to the pot.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, beer, tomato sauce, green chilies, corn, apple cider vinegar, and seasonings. Stir and blend together.
  5. Simmer with lid vented for about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Serve with optional toppings and enjoy!


I create a chili bar so that my family can top this chili recipe with a variety of tasty tidbits such as cheese, green onions and sour cream.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 315Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 581mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 26g
slash added sugar child's diet

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