Faux Chili John's, originally uploaded by fo0bar.

In my last posted adventure in cooking, I told you how to make red-looking pizza using no tomato sauce whatsoever. Today, I will tell you about the miracle of Chili John’s chili.

Growing up in Green Bay, there was a local restaurant called Chili Johns. My family knew the owner’s family, and it was damn good chili, but it doesn’t fit your normal definition of “chili”. Instead, they call it “condensed chili”, as there are no tomatos or other chunks of stuff (except for beans if you request). The chili is served on a bed of spaghetti, and garnished with cheese, oyster crackers, and optional beans, onions and sour cream. Very hot too.

Chili John’s also sells tubs of chili at supermarkets at Green Bay area stores, and also ships orders. Well, for my birthday last month, my mom had them cold-pack overnight ship 2 1lb tubs to me. Oh damn was it good! I prepared and ate one tub over the course of that next week, and the other tub is sitting in my freezer, awaiting a special occasion. Did I mention they charge $60 for shipping 2 tubs? Have you ever ate chili that was worth $30/lb? I have.

A few weeks later, I was eating tacos made with McCormick taco seasoning, and thought, “Hmm, this tastes a little like Chili John’s. Close, but still a long way off.” At that point I started experimenting with getting the taste right. As it turns out, 1 packet McCormick hot chili seasoning + 1 packet McCormick taco seasoning comes pretty close. So, I present to you…

fo0bar’s Faux Chili John’s Chili


1 lb ground beef, 75% lean (an explanation of why to use fatty beef is below)

1 packet McCormick hot chili seasoning (“hot chili” is harder to find at the grocery store; “chili” can be used instead, but won’t be as hot, obviously)

1 packet McCormick taco seasoning

1/2 cup water (2/3 cup for us high-elevation freaks)

1 16 oz can dark kidney beans


Shredded cheddar cheese

Oyster crackers

Sour cream (optional, I never liked sour cream in my chili)

Chopped onions (optional)


  1. Sift the McCormick packets, which contain a lot of dehydrated onions. (I get very sick from fresh onions, and as a result, tend to hate onions in all of its forms. Still, Chili John’s chili does not contain dehydrated onions, so think of it as being more “pure” to the recreation.) You should still be left with a lot of powder.

  2. Brown the beef. When the beef is fully cooked, do not drain. (Chili John’s contains a LOT of grease. In fact, when you get it in tubs, the top 1/4 of the tub is solidified grease. I’m pretty sure they add lard after cooking. I’m not willing to go that far, but I did choose beef with a high fat content to re-create the artery-clogging goodness.)

  3. Reduce heat, and add water and seasonings. Mix thoroughly, and bring to a boil, mixing constantly. After boiling, reduce to a simmer.

  4. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and add kidney beans, and simmer for another 10 minutes, mixing occasionally.

  5. Cook spaghetti. When spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to bowl (duh). Add several heaping spoonfuls of chili mix, then top with cheese, oyster crackers, and optional sour cream and onions. Enjoy.


  • The chili mixture (and associated grease) turn a dark red, and WILL permanently stain anything it touches. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. (This is true to the original Chili John’s chili as well).

  • This chili has enough fat to clog the arteries of a horse.

  • If you are on Atkins, the paraphernalia (spaghetti, beans and crackers) will probably kill you.