“Over the Top” Smoked Chili


CORRECTION 03/11/2017 – It has been brought to our attention that the actual inventors of this chili recipe are Dawn and Johnny Barnes.

We here at tEGGsty LOVE trying new and interesting recipes on the Big Green Egg especially when it involves smoking a giant meatball over a pot of chili which is where we find ourselves today.

Recently there has been a lot of chatter surrounding a particular method of making chili amongst a Facebook group of dedicated Big Green Eggers.  The recipe provides plenty of wiggle room on ingredients and dials in on the unique method of preparation. The main character of this chili story is to mix the meat and spices into a giant meatball or loaf and smoke over a dutch oven containing the remaining ingredients. Once the meatball has reached a certain internal temperature it is broken up and returned to the chili.   Brilliant!

The original recipe by Mike Parker. Recipe credit goes to Dawn and Johnny Barnes.

It’s like dinner and a show!  Nothing adds flavor to the dish quite like a story and if a recipe is calling for one to “smoke a giant meatball” how could it ever be bad?   It’s as much a feast for your eyes as it is for your mouth.  If preparing this dish for guests at a party one may have to schedule waves of ‘chili showings’ or ‘lid openings’ and spread them out so as not to allow the temperature to get too high. That is very much anecdotal – the point being that cooking this chili can be just as much fun for everyone as eating the chili.  It is a true experience and that is what we love about it.

Youtuber Damon Brown did a full video of this method staying much closer to the original recipe and it looks amazing. We swung the bat taking a few more liberties as we adapted our original basic Smoked Chili recipe and married it with the preparation goodness found in this new method to create the adaptation below.  We love peppers and onions in our chili and typically try to sauté in the dutch oven prior to adding the additional ingredients.  Due to the lower cooking temperature of this recipe we opted to sauté the onions and peppers on the stovetop first before adding to the dutch oven.

Enough of the blah blah blah… here’s what we did:


  • 2 onions chopped
  • 5 bell peppers chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons. olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 pounds ground beef (Not too lean. 80/20 or 75/25)
  • 1 cans (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cans (28oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans

Prepare the Egg

  • Set the Egg for indirect cooking with a platesetter.
  • Set an uncovered dutch oven on the platesetter. Be sure to use spacers if your dutch oven doesn’t have legs. You can use rolled up aluminum foil or Nuts to lift the dutch oven off the platesetter.  If the DO sits flat on the platesetter the chili will burn to the bottom.
  • Bring the temperature up to 300 degrees.
  • Add a few hickory chunks for smoke.

Kitchen Work

  • Add the olive oil to a large pan over medium high heat.
  • Add the garlic and allow to cook stirring occasionally for 1 minute or until aromatic.
  • Add the onions and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften – about 5 minutes.
  • Add the peppers and continue to sauté until the onions begins to caramelize and brown and the peppers are soft – about 8-10 minutes.

Meatball Time

Let’s pause for a moment and appreciate that we have a section listed as ‘Meatball time’ in the recipe. Okay – let’s continue…

  • Take the ground beef and work in the spices with your hands – being careful not to overwork.
  • Shape the meat into a ball or loaf.

Back to the Grill

  • To the dutch oven add the sautéd garlic, onions and peppers.
  • Add the tomatoes and beans
  • Place a cooking grid directly on top of the dutch oven
  • Place the giant meatball on the cooking grid directly over the center of the dutch oven
  • Allow to cook until the meatball reaches an internal temperature of 150. (~ 3 hours)
  • Remove the meatball and break apart with a spatula into smaller bite-sized chunks. (Notice the smoke ring!)
  • Return the meatball pieces back to the chili and mix well.
  • Continue to cook for 2 hours or more stirring occasionally to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve hot.

Serving Suggestions

Be sure to serve with your favorite chili accoutrements.

  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado Slices
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Pasta/rice – Hello Cincinnati!

Don’t have a Dutch Oven?

Cast Iron Dutch Oven Recommendations

Lodge Deep

*Price at the time of publishing

Made by: Lodge
8 Quarts
No Enamel Coating
Has Feet

Lodge Standard

*Price at the time of publishing

Made by: Lodge
6 Quarts
No Enamel Coating
Has Feet

Cuisinart Classic

*Price at the time of publishing

Made by: Cuisinart
7 Quarts
Enamel Coating
No Feet


  1. I would suggest 75 25 for the ground beef. Cooling over the heat you will loose moisture. The chili will add that back, but I would bet it’s better having its tastier moisture retained.

    • I have found that I need to add a few cups of water to the chili to reduce the thickness. Perhaps the water helps to cut down on the grease – but I have not gotten that layer of grease/fat over the chili. In fact I think the chili tastes even better the next day after sitting in a pyrex dish in a refrigerator overnight and I have never had that issue of having to skim off any fat or grease layers. I suppose if you typically approach chili by browning the ground beef first and draining the fat before adding it then certainly this method would add that much fat – but I don’t think it is too much. To be clear: I’m not a doctor – and most doctors might disagree with me on this point – but this chili is way better. 🙂

  2. Great recipe and I love it. Won first place in the office competition out of 15.
    One thought – sometimes, the chili ssauce can be all smoke, no tomato – so what I do is add more diced tomato afterwards to bring back that flavor. That, and cocoa in the sauce…

    • Noel! Thanks for the comment. I agree with you on the smoke front. A little goes a long way. And thanks for the cocoa tip… that sounds intriguing. I’m always up for trying something new!


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