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Sweet & Smoky Maple Bacon Chili

Sweet & Smoky Maple Bacon Chili

If you love rich, complex flavors, then this Sweet & Spicy Maple Bacon Chili is sure to please! The sweetness of maple syrup, paired with the spice of freshly diced jalapenos, is a perfect compliment for those cold winter nights!

Chili is a marathon, not a sprint.

For a rich and robust chili, you need to make sure that you have enough time to let the flavors blend. This chili takes a while to prepare but tastes even better if you leave it on low for at least 6-12 hours. You can safely leave it on low for several days. It even makes a great freezer meal!

If you’re in a hurry, you’ll be better off making something else. Good chili is a marathon, not a sprint, so make sure you have enough time to prepare this meal before you get started.

Here’s the shopping list.

I love to organize my shopping lists by areas of the store, so I’ve organized the dozens of ingredients required by this recipe into an easily shoppable list for your convenience.


  • Produce
  • Onions, 4

  • Bell Peppers, 4 (variety of colors)

  • Jalapeño Peppers, 3

  • Serrano Pepper, 1

  • Garlic, 12 cloves

  • Green onions

  • Meat
  • Ground beef, 2.5 pounds

  • Ground Maple sausage, 2 pounds

  • Bacon, 1 pack

  • Seasonings
  • Cumin

  • Garlic powder

  • Onion powder

  • Black pepper

  • Alder-smoked salt

  • Brown sugar

  • Maple syrup

  • Canned Goods
  • Kidney beans, 2 cans

  • Black beans, 1 can

  • White beans, 1 can

  • Tomato sauce, 1 large can

  • Tomato paste, 2 small cans

  • Refried beans, 1 can

  • Sparkling apple cider, 2 cups

  • Sweet Baby Rays Maple BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup

  • 3 tsp beef beef bouillon

  • Other
  • Shredded cheese

I love to cook… but I don’t always love to take notes when I’m cooking. That’s probably why this website is a family blog and not a cooking blog.

I’ll be honest with you; the measurements in this recipe may not be precise. I don’t measure when I cook, so it always tastes a little different every time.

Please feel free to adjust this recipe to your tastes as you create it. My family loves maple, so I’m always a little more generous with the maple flavors. You’re welcome to add, exclude, and adjust measurements as you go. That’s what makes cooking fun!

Before the crockpot, you’ll need a frying pan.

Although all the ingredients will end up in the crockpot together, you’ll need to start by preparing the base ingredients in a frying pan.

Start by frying several strips of bacon (or a whole pack; honestly, who can stop at a few strips?). You can save these for crumbling later or, if you’re like my family, you’ll just eat all the bacon as soon as it’s done. The important part is that you save that bacon grease!

Once the bacon is done, set it aside. Toss the chopped onions and peppers into the grease. Add the minced garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent, and then add this to the slow cooker. You can drain the excess grease if you want… or not. It’s really up to you.

Next, add the ground beef and ground sausage into the pan. Cook it until it is crumbled and brown. Add the cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and smoked salt to the meat as it cooks. When it’s done, drain it and dump it into the slow cooker.

The beans can be added to the slow cooker immediately after they have been drained. Using a mix of red kidney beans, black beans and white beans creates an interesting and flavorful blend that really helps this chili stand out.

The most difficult part is creating the sauce. For this, you’ll want to dump the tomato sauce, paste, refried beans, butter, apple cider, beef bouillon and maple BBQ sauce into a sauce pan. Stir over medium heat until it is thoroughly blended. Don’t pour it over the rest of the ingredients until it’s smooth, or it’ll be a lot harder to get those chunks out. If the sauce is too thick, add more syrup or cider. If it’s too thin, add more refried beans to thicken it up.

In recent years, it has been really hard to track down Sweet Baby Ray’s Maple BBQ Sauce so you can make your own by mixing maple BBQ sauce with regular Sweet Baby Ray’s. You may even prefer this because then you can make it to your own desired level of sweetness.

Once the sauce is done, dump it into the crockpot and blend everything together. Let it sit on low for at least 6 hours. You can put it on keep warm for even longer. The longer the flavors blend, the better it tastes.

Just before serving, top it with shredded cheese, green onions and candy bacon crumbles.

Sweet & Smoky Maple Bacon Chili

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Recipe by Nicole Thelin Course: EntreesCuisine: Comfort FoodDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




This rich and robust chili pairs the perfect sweetness of maple with the spicy hints of freshly-diced jalapenos.


  • 3 tbsp bacon grease

  • 4 medium onions, diced

  • 4 bell peppers, diced

  • 3 jalapeno pappers, diced

  • 1 serrano pepper, diced

  • 12 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2.5 pounds ground beef

  • 2 pounds ground Maple sausage

  • 4 tsp cumin

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp onion powder

  • 1.5 tsp black pepper

  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans

  • 1 can black beans

  • 1 can Great Northern beans

  • 1 can tomato sauce

  • 2 cans tomato paste

  • 1 can refried beans

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 2 cups sparkling apple cider

  • 1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Maple BBQ sauce

  • 3 tsp beef bouillon

  • 1 cup maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  • Fry some bacon to get fresh bacon grease. Add the chopped onions, peppers and minced garlic to the grease. Cook until the onions are translucent, then add to the slow cooker.
  • Cook the ground beef and maple sausage together until it is brown and crumbled. Add the cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and alder-smoked salt as the meat cooks. When done, add it to the slow cooker.
  • Drain the canned beans. Add to the slow cooker.
  • Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, refried beans, apple cider, BBQ sauce, butter and beef bouillon to a saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sauce is thoroughly mixed. Pour into the slow cooker and mix well.
  • Cook on low for at least 6 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Create candied bacon by mixing 1 cup Maple Syrup with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Toss bacon crumbles into this mixture and bake at 400 for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool and crumble.
  • Add shredded cheese, green onions and candied bacon to the chili just prior to serving.

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Serve it with some side dishes.

If you’re serving this chili, it pairs well with your usual chili side dishes. We enjoy it with:

  • Biscuits
  • Bread
  • Cheese bread
  • Cornbread
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Grilled cheese
  • Nachos
  • Potatoes (baked, wedged, roasted, tots, etc)
  • Soft pretzels
  • Quesadillas

Use it as a freezer meal.

This chili makes a fabulous freezer meal! However, you’ll want to save it in a Ziploc bag, stored upright so that it fits easily in the crockpot.

You’ll also want to save the chili itself and not the candied bacon, cheese or green onions. You can add those after you cook it, but they don’t save well in the freezer.