The Ultimate Over the Top Chili Recipe

Over the top chili….ever heard of it? I hadn’t until I got my new Kamado Joe Grill and started looking for great recipes. I was hesitant to try this at first but I finally did and OMG….sooooo good! If you haven’t tried it you need to! Chili is the ultimate comfort food on a chilly Fall day.

A bowl of over the top chili on a wooden table with bread for dipping.

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Over the Top Chili is a kind of smoked chili. The chili is slowly smoked without the meat in it, which is seasoned and cooked over the top of the chili! Hence the name over the top chili! It’s also referred to as OTT chili for short or smoked chili.

The Kamado Joe

If you follow me at all you know I absolutely love my Kamado Joe Grill! I have the Big Joe III which has 24″ of grill space. It’s ideal for large families or if you like to host a lot. Otherwise, there are smaller versions to fit your family and lifestyle. It’s not just a grill it’s a smoker, oven and so much more! I’ve even made cookies on it before!

Brand New Kamado Joe on my deck in the summer.

While I’m biased towards the Kamado Joe, don’t worry you can make Over the Top Chili on the Big Green Egg, a charcoal grill, gas grill or even use a Traeger pellet smoker.

If you don’t have a Kamado Joe or another ceramic-style grill such as the Big Green Egg, you can still make Over the top Chili on your regular charcoal or gas grill just make sure you have a smoker box like this one and wood chips to ensure you get the same smoke flavor.

Over the Top Chili Pin.

Too busy to make this right now? Pin for later to your favorite Pinterest Board!

Chili Ingredients

Although you can use your favorite chili recipe and I know people can be partial to their chili, here is my favorite smoked chili recipe.

Ground Beef – We use local ground beef from a local farm and absolutely love it. I recommend at least 85/15 for this recipe.

Bacon – Everything is better with bacon am I right? I wouldn’t recommend using maple bacon or sweeter bacon but use hickory smoked bacon.

Chili Seasoning – I cheat here and use the packets of chili seasoning mix you get at the store! I really need to create my own one of these days like I do my homemade taco seasoning! I finally created my homemade chili seasoning and it’s the best!

Cans of kidney beans, corn, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced green chilis and two packets of chili seasoning on a marble counter top.

Onion – I usually use a yellow onion as I almost always have those on hand but feel free to use whatever you’ve got! But don’t be afraid to use red onion or any onions you have.

Beans – I like to use three types of beans in my over-the-top chili – pinto, black, and kidney. Now you can mix and match here try chili beans or if you don’t have a can of pinto beans use two cans of kidney beans. Be sure to drain and rinse your beans before adding them to the chili.

Canned Corn – I like adding a can of corn to my smoked chili for a touch of sweetness as well as color.

Diced Tomatoes – Diced tomatoes for more flavor – I use canned tomatoes and I’ll grab whatever plain, chili-seasoned, diced onions and garlic. It’s all good when you choose the type of canned tomatoes.

Tomato Sauce – Because of the longer cook time on the grill, I add a can of tomato sauce to the chili to keep it moist and add flavor.

Mexican Beer – Adding beer not only keeps the chili moist but it adds another level of flavor! I love using Mexican beer but feel free to use whatever you have on hand as long as it’s not a dark or flavored beer.

Green Chili – I add a can of diced green chilis to my chili mix.

Over-the-Top Chili on the Kamado Joe

While over-the-top chili is fairly simple to put together but the process is a bit more complicated than your average crock pot chili recipe. You can use your favorite chili recipe and just use the Over the Top method of cooking instead of your usual cooking method. However, my recipe for chili is below.

To make over-the-top chili, make your favorite chili recipe or try my chili recipe below, except don’t add the meat.

Instead, you make a chili-seasoned meatball and wrap it in bacon! Then place your pot of chili on the grill, a grate over the pot, and the chili-seasoned bacon-wrapped meatball over the pot. I love using a cast iron pot for make my chili in.

I use a grill rack extender over my pot and then put the meatball on the extender rack. Be sure to center the meat over the pot!

A large bacon wrapped meatball on a grate over the pot of over the top chili on the grill.

Now grab one of those extra Mexican beers and sit back and let the magic happen! While the meat cooks the meat drippings will drip into the chili adding so much flavor!

Cook the meat until done (no pink) and remove it from the grill. Roughly chop the meat and the bacon and add to the pot of chili. Give it all a good stir so it’s well combined and place the pot back on the grill. Let it cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve over-the-top chili with your favorite chili toppings such as shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced onions, and cilantro. I love adding cornbread, tortilla chips, or Fritos chips as a side dish! Or check out this list of great side dishes for chili! Don’t forget an icy margarita or Mexican beer!

A large pot of OTT chili being served with a ladel.

You might also like…

Homemade Chili Seasoning

Smoked Meatloaf

Smoked Green Chili

Side Dishes to Serve with Chili

Yield: 10 Servings

Over the Top Chili

Bowl of Chili

Elevate your chili recipe by turning it into Over the Top Chili!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours


  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 2 chili seasoning packets or 2 batches of homemade chili seasoning
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 bottles Mexican beer
  • 1 4 ounce can diced green chiles


  1. Prep your grill for an indirect cook and set the temperature to 350°.
  2. Mix 2 tbls into the ground beef.
  3. Shape the ground beef mixture into a large ball and wrap it with bacon.
  4. Mix the remaining ingredients into a large pot. I recommend starting with 1 bottle of beer and seeing how the consistency is and going from there.
  5. Once the grill is up to temperature, place the pot under the grates and place the meatball on the grate above the chili pot.
  6. Cook for approximately 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours or until the meatball is cooked through or 165° on a meat thermometer.
  7. Check occasionally to be sure your pot is not looking overly dry and add more beer if necessary.
  8. Remove the meatball and the pot from the grill. Chop bacon and meat roughly and add to the pot. Stir to combine.
  9. Add more beer if necessary to reach the chili consistency you prefer.
  10. Return the pot with the meat stirred in the grill for an additional 30 mins.
  11. Serve with cornbread as a side dish and your favorite chili toppings such as shredded cheese, diced jalapeños, sour cream, and fresh cilantro.



  • Add some hot sauce and spice your chili up!
  • Use a homemade chili seasoning!
  • Throw in some extra veggies like bell peppers, celery, etc.
  • Leave out some or all of the beans! Don't forget you can mix or match the beans as you prefer!
  • Not a fan of bacon, feel free to not wrap your meatball in bacon!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1090Total Fat: 59gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 233mgSodium: 2314mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 85g

Chaos & Wine occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This Nutrition Disclaimer notifies that under no circumstances will Chaos & Wine or its owners be responsible for any loss, damage, or adverse reactions resulting from your reliance on nutritional information given by this site. By using Chaos & Wine and its content, you agree to these terms.

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Smoked Chili Variations

Chili is very personal in my opinion and there are lots of variations out there!

  • Add some hot sauce, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or a chopped fresh jalapeno and spice your chili up!
  • Substitute some of the ground beef for chorizo!
  • Use homemade chili seasoning!
  • Throw in some extra veggies like green bell peppers, red peppers, celery, etc.
  • Leave out some or all of the beans! Don’t forget you can mix or match the beans as you prefer! Navy beans, cannellini beans and chili beans are all excellent options.
  • Not a fan of bacon, feel free to not wrap your meatball in bacon!
  • Add a bit of chocolate to your chili. Seriously try it!
Over the Top Chili Pin

Too busy to make this right now? Pin for later to your favorite Pinterest Board!

OTT Chili FAQs

Can I use a regular charcoal or gas grill?

Of course, I recommend using a smoker box with your regular charcoal or gas grill and following the same method for an indirect cook. You can also use your favorite pellet grill if you like. It may not have the same depth of flavor using a ceramic smoker will but it will still be delicious!

Can I use any chili recipe?

Yes, you can use your favorite chili recipe. Simply use the over-the-top method of cooking to make smoked chili!

What type of wood do you use when making Over-the-Top Chili?

I like to use mesquite or hickory when I smoke over-the-top chili! I like to soak my wood chunks before putting them on the grill.

How to store leftover smoked chili?

If you do end up with leftover chili, which I usually don’t since I have such a large family, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. As always, please refer to the USDA guidelines for storing leftovers.
To reheat leftover chili, you can either microwave individual servings or reheat it on the stove top.
You can also get creative with your leftover chili! Check out these delicious recipes using to leftover chili!

What do you top your smoked chili with?

I love adding shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, raw diced onions, Frito chips, or crumbled cornbread to my chili toppings! I set up a kind of chili bar with all the toppings and let people pick and choose their favorites.

What to serve with over-the-top chili?

I serve Frito chips or cornbread with my over-the-top chili! Don’t forget a delicious ice-cold margarita or Mexican beer! You can also check out my post for the best chili side dishes!

Can I freeze over-the-top chili?

Yes, you can freeze over-the-top chili. In fact, I do it often when I want to take some with me to make while camping! Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. However, be sure to check out these creative ways to use leftover chili!

Can I make over-the-top chili ahead of time?

Yes, if I have a big party or gathering of people over for smoked chili, I’ll often make it in the morning and keep it warm in my crock-pot!

Have You Tried Over-the-Top Chili or smoked chili?

Do you have a favorite chili recipe? Have you tried the over-the-top method to make it? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author

A picture of me, the owner of Chaos & Wine, with a variety of ingredients on a wooden table.

Hey! I'm April, the owner of Chaos & Wine!

I can't wait to share all my family's favorite recipes and a few random thoughts as a mom!

So let the chaos settle, grab a glass of wine and relax with me or join me for a little chaos in the kitchen!

You can find out more about me here!

This page contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase after clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. For more information please read my full affiliate disclosure.

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