Hillbilly Chili with Cinnamon Rolls. Is there anything more delicious than an easy homemade chili when the snow is blowing and sub zero temps set in?? If you’re from the Midwest, you already know that every classic chili in the land is served with a cinnamon roll – all you need is one bite of the combination and you’ll be hooked.
Hillbilly Chili – Made 2 Ways Recipe
Howdy. Chef Alli here! Let’s Get You Cookin’ ….Shall We? 🙂
So, you may be asking yourself this question: Are cinnamon rolls and chili a MIDWEST thing or are cinnamon rolls and chili a KANSAS thing? I’m not sure, but I do know it’s a WONDERFUL thing!
I’m not sure how the tradition of chili and cinnamon rolls got started. Everyone here in my neck of the woods (NE Kansas) thinks it’s a crime if you eat chili and without a side of cinnamon roll. Totally not kidding, either.
The combination is pretty dang yummy, no matter if we are eating basic Speedy Cinnamon Rolls or a more amped-up version: Speedy Maple Cinnamon Rolls. Neither recipe will disappoint.
Are you looking for fun appetizers that feature the flavors of a good hearty chili? Well then, try this Chili Cheese Tamale Dip and Chili Cheese Super Bowl Dip made with pork sausage and black beans.
We also enjoy Chili-Cheese-Dog Tater Tot Bake as a casserole that’s pure comfort food as well as BACON-WRAPPED Chili Dogs…..a real guy-favorite at my house.
What to Love About this Recipe
- This is a tried-and-true recipe (many times over!) that your family will ask for again and again.
- It’s quick and easy.
- You can use any type of ground meat to make this chili.
- The addition of spaghetti makes this a fun version of chili.
- It goes perfectly with cinnamon rolls! (Does one need anything else??)
My whole family loves chili, especially this Hillbilly Chili that includes spaghetti. At first I thought this an odd ingredient for chili, but we have absolutely fallen in love with it. (Be warned – many people have said they think the addition of spaghetti is just WRONG.)
When you make this chili, you will notice that it has the consistency of soup rather than a thick chili. This is a good thing because of the spaghetti. Pasta has a tendency to really soak up the broth, so this chili lends itself well to the spaghetti.
We eat a lot of soups, chili, and chowders during the Fall and Winter months. I love making soup and chili in my 6-quart Instant Pot (or even my 8-quart Instant Pot for really big batches of soup) to get dinner on the table a whole lot quicker. We especially enjoy Instant Pot Sausage, Bacon and Potato Soup, Instant Pot Chicken and Orzo Soup and Vegetables, and Tex Mex Corn Chowder, just to name a few.
Here are the ingredients needed to make Hillbilly Chili –
- Chili powder
- Ground beef
- Spaghetti or angel hair pasta
- Chili beans
- Tomato juice
- Granulated sugar
- Garnishes – shredded cheddar, corn chips, sour cream, if desired
Easy and Helpful Recipes Tips for Making Hillbilly Chili
If I make this chili on the stove top instead of in an Instant Pot, will it still be as flavorful?
- I’ll admit that I do think that nearly everything made in the Instant Pot is more flavorful. I believe it’s due to being cooked under pressure – how can whatever you cook NOT be more flavorful when all the ingredients are force-ably infused into every part of what you are cooking? Before I got my Instant Pot, though, I made this chili on my stove top all the time and it is still a delicious experience – not to worry.
My kids are weenies and don’t care for beans in chili, but I do. Got any suggestions?
- My boys are weenies too! They prefer Hillbilly Chili without the addition of chili beans…totally ridiculous. What to do? Well, I make a big batch of chili without the beans, then I serve the weenies first. Next I add warm chili beans to the chili bowls for me and Pa…delicious! This keeps everybody happy and it’s an easy fix.
If I don’t have chili beans on hand, can I substitute other canned beans from my pantry?
- Yes and I’ve had to do this a number of times when I’ve gone to the pantry and found I was out of chili beans. I’ve substituted plain pinto beans and also black beans for the chili beans and it works fine. (Just keep in mind that you may need to use a bit more chili seasoning since canned chili beans typically come packed in a chili sauce.)
CLICK HERE FOR MY FAVORITE SPEEDY CINNAMON ROLLS RECIPE!
Do I have to drain the chili beans when making this recipe?
No. If you have a particular brand or type of canned chili beans that comes in a deliciously seasoned sauce, you totally do not have to drain them.
Can I use any kind of ground beef in this recipe? I don’t always have ground sirloin on hand.
You can use any type of ground beef that you have on hand. You’ll just want to be sure that you drain the fats from the ground chuck once it’s been cooked as there could be quite a bit that accumulates. Otherwise, ground chuck works perfectly for this chili.
Can I make this chili using ground venison instead of ground beef?
I’m so glad you asked this question. My sons are hunters, so we often have ground venison in the freezer. I’ve used it in this chili recipe as well as these Meat Burritos with Cheese and Tex Mex Cauliflower Rice with Ground Beef just recently. I like to use ground venison in my recipes that use Mexican ingredients, such as chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, chili powder, etc. Here is a favorite appetizer recipe that uses vension, too: Venison Bacon Poppers.
Can other pastas be substituted for the spaghetti in this chili?
Great question, and YES. For whatever reason, my boys prefer spaghetti or angel hair pasta in this chili, but you could definitely substitute macaroni, small shell, or penne pasta very successfully.
Why does this chili recipe call for sugar as one of the ingredients? That seems kind of weird.
Actually, it’s not! Tomato products, such as diced or crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, or even tomato juice, are acidic in nature and a pinch of sugar (or a tablespoon as in this recipe) cuts that acidity quite nicely, rounding out all of the flavors in the process. Try it!
More Recipes to Enjoy –
- NO-BAKE CHOCOLATE BUTTERFINGER PIE
- TASTY TEX MEX CHICKEN CORNBREAD CASSEROLE
- CHEESY HASH BROWN MEATLOAF PIE
- INSTANT POT BROCCOLI CHEESE NOODLE SOUP
- ARTICHOKE OLIVE CHEESE BREAD
- HOT AND CREAMY PIZZA DIP
- BEEF AND CHEESE SANCHILADAS
- CRUMBLED BUTTER BRICKLE ICE CREAM DESSERT
Printable Hillbilly Chili Recipe –
- 1-2 Tbs. mild chili powder
- 2 lbs. ground beef, I typically use ground round or ground sirloin
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 oz. spaghetti or angel hair pasta, broken into thirds
- 1-2 15 oz. can chili beans, drained and rinsed (or if you especially like the sauce/juice that a particular brand of chili beans come packed in, there's no need to rinse)
- 1 46 oz. can tomato juice
- 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. each kosher salt and pepper
- shredded cheddar, corn chips, and sour cream, for garnishing the chili as desired
Instant Pot Directions
- Using the saute setting on the Instant Pot (or any brand of electric pressure cooker), heat the chili powder, stirring to keep it from scorching, 20-30 seconds, until very fragrant. (This technique is called "blooming" and the heat really brings out the essence of the chili powder.)
- Add the ground beef and the diced onions to the Instant Pot, continuing to cook until the beef is nicely browned and cooked throughout, and no pink remains. Drain any excessive fats from the cooked beef, then stir in the broken spaghetti pieces, letting them cook together for a minute or two.
- Stir in the chili beans, tomato juice, sugar, salt, and pepper, then give the chili a quick stir. Lock the Instant Pot securely lid into place. Choose the high pressure setting for 3 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure. When the timer sounds, perform a quick release to remove all pressure from the pot.
- Carefully unlock the IP lid and remove it; give the chili a quick stir. Serve the chili in deep bowls, garnished with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream as desired, alongside warm cinnamon rolls.
Stove Top Directions
- In a Dutch oven over medium high heat, heat the chili powder, stirring to keep it from scorching, 20-30 seconds, until very fragrant. (This technique is called "blooming" and the heat really brings out the essence of the chili powder.)
- Add the ground beef and diced onion to the Dutch oven and sauté until the ground beef is nicely browned and cooked through, and no pink remains. Drain the fats well from the beef mixture, then stir in the broken spaghetti pieces to coat them in the juices and spices that surround the crumbled cooked beef.
- Add the chili beans, tomato juice, sugar, salt, and pepper to the Dutch oven, giving it a stir. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cooking the chili for 25-30 minutes. Serve the chili in deep bowls, garnished with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream, as desired, alongside warm cinnamon rolls.
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Let’s Get You Cookin’,
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If I don’t have a pressure cooker, should I cook pasta separate then add it to the meat mixture and simmer!
Hi Lona – Sorry I’m just NOW seeing your question. You can cook the pasta right in the broth of the chili – works great.
One of our family favorite!!!!!!!! So good, and yet so easy!!!!!
Hi Morgan – Glad your fam liked this Hillbilly Chili! We think chili and cinnamon rolls are the perfect companions.
No, the spreghetti will cook in the juice.
U really can’t mess up chili but never have I made it this way. I never knew about blooming. Learned something new. Chili turned out wonderful.
Hi there –
Glad to know you enjoyed the chili…and learned about blooming spices, too. More flavor is always a bonus!
Let’s Keep Cookin’,
I didn’t see any beans mentioned in the ingredients or in the instructions. I’m assuming one can of chili beans? Otherwise, it sounds delicious (and easy)!!
Hi Elaine –
Good grief! Chili wouldn’t be chili (in my world, anyway!) without beans, right? I just about fell down when I checked the recipe card and saw NO BEANS listed…..eeeek! I’ve corrected the recipe card now to reflect that, yes, beans should be included.
Thanks so much for letting me know about this.
In Minnesota, we call it chili mac, like a hot dish ( casserole). I usually use elbows, but guess any noodle would work, I just make regular chili and then add the noodles.
I always love learning the local names that each area of the country uses for specific dishes/recipes. When I next make Hillbilly Chili, I’ll try the elbows like you do for chili mac – I bet my guys will love it.
Thanks for reaching out,
I made this tonight for supper and loved it and my husband loved it too. He doesn’t like soup that much but he spooned up the broth till his bowl was finished. We had it with buttered saltines as this was a last minute decision.
I’ll be making this for our next covered dish at church,
Hi Debbie –
Thanks for letting me know that you and your Hubs enjoyed the Hillbilly Chili – I so appreciate the 5 star rating too. We have a pot of this chili in our fridge right now, too. 🙂
I’m glad I’m not the only one who makes last minute decisions at dinner time!
P.S. Hope you’ll try the cinnamon rolls sometime, too. Cinnamon Rolls and Chili is “a thing” here in Kansas. How about where you live??
How much pasta should I use in the recipe? Half pound or full pound. Thank you
Hi Rina –
I’ve adjusted the recipe to make it easier. Use about 4 oz. of spaghetti or angel hair pasta since it expands as it cooks.
Hope you enjoy the recipe – it’s a keeper!
I gave this 4 stars, just because I have not tried it yet. But I do have a question; What is a cylinder of spaghetti? I’ve never heard or seen that before :). Thanks for any help you can give me. Have a wonderful and blessed day.
Hi Joann –
Yes, that is a bit confusing, isn’t it?? I adjusted the recipe to state using 4 oz. of spaghetti or angel hair pasta – that should help!
Hope you’ll try this recipe – it’s a family favorite. 🙂
Hello Chef Alli
You mention crock pot on the opening page, but nothing in your notes. I was wondering about the pasta and when to add it (any other suggestions would be welcome). New to this and any help would be appreciated.
Hi Greg –
Crazy thing! When I viewed the Hillbilly Chili recipe just now, I can’t see any mention of a slow cooker method any where in the text! As for when to add the broken spaghetti or angel hair pasta, you do that in step 2 in both the stove top and the Instant Pot recipe, right after you’ve browned and drained the ground meat, spices, and onions. Here is the post I’m looking at right now – maybe somehow out there in the virtual space, it somehow got distorted – I honestly have no explanation. Please let me know if I can help you further, truly. Hope you try the chili – we love it! Can’t wait until the weather cools down and it’s soup/chili season once more.
You use the same ingredients I do, with the exception that I add a can of refried beans. It doesn’t affect the flavor but makes it thicker. I’ve never thought about adding pasta.
Hi Michelle –
I have never even THOUGHT about adding a can of refried beans to this chili! I am actually making this recipe this eve so I’m going to add the refried beans and test it out. Thanks for letting me know….I’ll try the beans and you can try the pasta, deal?
Let’s Keep Cookin’,
Do you have to rinse and draing the chili beans or its that meant is using black or pinto beans?
Hi Lacy –
I usually rinse any canned bean that I’m using in a recipe, but it’s truly personal preference. Hope this helps! Let me know if I’m not understanding your questions correctly.
The thing is, where I’m from, chili beans are precooked beans canned in a chili flavored sauce. So if you rinse those beans you lose all the delicious sauce. I think that is what Lacy was referring to.
Love the chili. Good without any add ons. We tried the cinnamon roll thing and really didn’t get the connection. I would rather have a nice slice of bread or cornbread.
Hi Deborah – Glad to know you enjoyed the Hillbilly Chili. The cinnamon roll and chili thing doesn’t resonate with everyone. Here in Kansas we connect to it because it was a “delicious duo” that was served to us in the school cafeteria or by our Grandmothers. My fam is still crazy for it!
Thanks for your comment on the chili – I appreciate you taking time out to do that.
Is there anything else you could substitute the tomato juice with?
Hi there – you could use diced tomatoes with their juices in place of the tomato juice or use half tomato sauce and half broth. You need that same amount of liquid (however/whatever you substitute for it) due to the pasta that absorbs a great deal of it. Hope this helps!