Barack Obama's Chili Recipe--in the CrockPot

Day 308.

I've made two chili recipes already this year, but when I read Kalyn's post listing the ingredients for the Obama family chili, I was intrigued. 

Kalyn did a write up on BlogHer from a recipe she found from

(NOTE in 2016 -- these original links no longer exist)

Red wine vinegar? 
In chili?

This I had to make.

The result is a mild and pleasant chili, suitable for all ages. 

The kids gladly ate this, and not once complained about spice---a complaint that is quite common at our dinner table. Adam and I added a few drops of Tabasco sauce to our bowls.

We are having friends from Australia over tomorrow, and I look forward to a feast with this chili and McCain's ribs.

The Ingredients.

1 can kidney beans (and the goop!)
1 pound lean ground meat (I used ground chicken)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 medium tomatoes, chopped (include seeds and all)
4 chopped cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teeaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons chili powder (I started with 1, but added another after a few hours. Do what's right for your family)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

The Directions.

I used a 6 quart Smart Pot for Obama's chili.

I made the executive decision to increase all of the spices from the original recipe, because in CrockPot cooking, the slow simmer of the ingredients cooking can overpower added spices. I'm glad that I upped everything---the flavors were there, but they were subtle and not overpowering.

I gave myself a pat on the back.

I also decided to not brown the meat on the stove top. I hate browning meat, and since the chicken I used was quite lean, I just crumbled it in raw. If you are going to use beef, or enjoy browning meat, go for it.

Chop up the tomatoes, garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Add to the crockpot. Open the can of beans, and pour in the whole thing. Add the ground meat. Stir in all of the spices and the red wine vinegar.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 4-5. I cooked our chili on low for 9 hours.

Season with a bit more salt, to taste.

Obama serves his chili over rice, so we did too. The kids really liked that a lot----they love white rice.

The Verdict.

Very tasty! It does not pack a punch the way traditional chili does, which was a pleasant change. I loved the addition of cumin and turmeric---I am new to turmeric, and like how it turns things orange.

We're going to have the leftovers as taco filling.

Remember to vote!

psst. just like yesterday, I will not post any comments with a political slant. ;-o

This is the Obama family's favorite chili recipe. It calls for adding turmeric, cumin, oregano, and red wine vinegar for  tangy twist.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at November 03, 2008

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What they say about this article

  1. Anonymous11/03/2008

    Is that garlic in the picture? I noticed you did not mention garlic, did you omit it? I am thinking of making this tonight, looks good!

    Thanks for replying to my email about my garlic/lemon pepper chicken! I used your advice and it turned out great! I also made some apple/pumpkin butter and it was a huge hit. I only had four apples, so I added a can of pumpkin. I am loving my crock!

    Thanks for writing this awesome blog! xoxo

  2. yes! ack! I fixed it, thank you.

    What a great idea to add a can of pumpkin to the apple butter! mmmm. that sounds wonderful.


  3. Anonymous11/03/2008

    yay! I am SO making this tomorrow.

  4. That looks great! I will be putting this one and McCain's ribs on my list for suppers next week!

  5. The Good Senator eats his chili on top of rice? How's that for different! Cincinnati chili is over pasta, so...hmmmm....rice.

    There are a few ingredients I've never put in chili (basil? vinegar?), so I may have to rethink my basic chili recipe. Thanks for another amazing recipe.

  6. Anonymous11/03/2008

    Always looking for new crockpot recipes... thanks!

  7. Anonymous11/03/2008

    I have always eaten my chili ontop of rice too!

  8. Most chilis have cumin, if only in the chili powder mix. Turmeric is a really healthy food and it's good to add to most anything you can get away with adding it to. I often add vinegar to dishes like this -- it's an old chef's trick to brighten the flavors. But I have never seen basil or oregano in a chili recipe. That's interesting.

  9. My son develeped a chili recipe that has just about everything you have with the addition of jalapenos, cinnamon, and some chocolate. It is really yummy.

  10. I just made a similar chili last night. I LOVE cumin, i always add a ton of it to my chili. In fact, it's about the only major spice i add when I make my award winning 3 bean white chicken chili!

  11. oh yeah, and I always add a heaping of italian seasoning to my chili's as well. it just goes w/the tomato so well, and with the cumin and chili powder in my beef chili, it doesn't taste italian.. it just brings it OUT.. if you know what i mean.

  12. This looks good. I think I might have to try it.

    What are we all going to do when your year of crockpotting is over??? I mean, other than weep and not know what to cook for dinner...

  13. I'm excited to make this! In fact, I am going to make it tonight for dinner! My hubby loves chili, but I am not much of a fan (what's wrong with me, right?) so this seems like a perfect compromise :). My son usually picks out and EATS cooked onions so he'll like it too!

    I really want to make the ribs also, but I guess we aren't really rib people...well, the kind that makes their own ribs at home. lol. I've never done it but mostly because I thought they were expensive (am I wrong?).

    I think I am going to make that apple/pumpkin butter for Thanksgiving! Sounds great!

    Thanks for more great recipes! You rock!

  14. I've been thinking about making it too, but I would definitely increase all the spices! Good move.

  15. Cumin is a common chili ingredient. And turmeric is a good idea: as pointed out by Cheri, it's chock full of good anti-oxidants.

  16. Anonymous11/03/2008

    You read my mind! I have the recipe for this chili on my counter, I got it from the Chicago Tribune a while ago. And? I was trying to figure out how to do it in the crock pot. So thanks!

  17. Anonymous11/03/2008

    Another great time-saver: I brown up 10-15 pounds of hamburger (when on sale) at a time, then ziploc by the pound and throw in the deep freeze. It's SO easy to dump into a microwave dish and thaw for a minute or so, and Voila! Instant meal - just add your sauce, or dump into chili like this!
    Anne (crockpot stalker)

  18. I love chili and I always eat it over rice. Good to know I'm not the only one..mmmm

  19. This looks like a really yummy, easy recipe. I wouldn't call it a chili if it didn't have cumin in it, and love the addition of vinegar to almost any dish. This recipe just might get to me branch out into ground chicken :)
    Thanks for the recipe!

  20. What fun to post political recipes! Have a great election night dinner.

  21. I always put cumin in chili--and growing up in Louisiana, we always had chili over rice!

  22. I just found your blog very recently. Trying to catch up and got the crockpot out of the cupboard. We are having your taco soup for dinner tonight. Soooo yummy! The crockpot is so wonderful for us since my hubby works late and I can eat earlier and keep his dinner warm, too. Thanks for this wonderful year of blogging. Love the bipartisan coverage on your recipes.

  23. I can't WAIT to try this out!!

    I have an award for you BTW :)

  24. Anonymous11/03/2008

    oooh, that looks sooo good! Thanks! I will definitely try that one. But I usually love all your recipes!

  25. Anonymous11/04/2008

    I made this for dinner last night. It's very different from the chili I usually make, and I didn't expect to like it. But I did, and so did the household. I think I can even make this for the other household member who can't eat that much tomato.

    I suspect that my chili powder is stronger than yours, because 2 teaspoons of my chili powder gave it some kick, though it wasn't overpowering.

  26. That's for the recipes! :) I'm making both the Obama chili and the McCain ribs in the crocks right now. We're having bi-partisan dinner tonight. What a nice jump on leftovers for next week.

  27. That sounds like an interesting mix of flavors - thanks! And thanks for the tip about doubling the spices for crockpot cooking!
    One question though - from your photos, it almost looks "dry"? Was it dry? Or am I not seeing the sauce?
    I can't wait to try this!

  28. I made this tonight and it's so good. I never had chili over rice before tonight and my little boy loves it. Thanks for the recipe!

  29. Oh. My. Goodness. My only regret is that I didn't make MORE! SO YUMMY! Thanks! :D

  30. Just made this in honor of my new President. But I used venison that my BABY shot with a GUN while he was praying to JESUS. It was okay. I think I'll use regular ground beef next time.

  31. Hey there, I've been reading and lurking since about June. Made a few of your recipes and they turned out great! I have a baby, so crockpotting is about the only type of cooking I can do anymore. Anyway, I bought a spaghetti squash, but have no idea what to do with it. Any suggestions? Thanks ~Meghan

  32. Anonymous1/07/2009


  33. Hi Anon,
    when you use dry spices in the crockpot, you need to up them quite a bit, which is what I did. 1/4 tsp of cumin just isn't enough for the crockpot.
    good luck!

  34. Can I just say that this was my very first recipe made in a new crockpot. I am sooo hooked now. I did add some tabasco to the pot because I like a bit of spice, but the ingredients did not overpower the taste. I really enjoyed this alot and so did my family, being a male and not having lots of time to do things limits me, but the crockpot has now become my newest alli! I will be trying more this week. Damian

  35. i have used cummin in chili before but never heard of that other spice. the sad thing is my all clad crock pot has broken ????

  36. I found this while researching what to bring to an inauguration potluck supper. Came out well and was enjoyed by a number of friends. Thanks!

  37. I am definitely trying this next week - it looks so delicious! Thank you!

  38. Since I found out today by cooking the Chinese Lemon Chicken recipe from this blog that my pot cooks too hot, I figure chili will be the best thing to cook in it tomorrow while I go shopping for a new one. (It's tough to overcook chili!) So I'll be cookin' this one up and celebratin' our new prez. :)

  39. I know I'm way late to comment here, but I have two comments I wanted to share. First, the turmeric in the Obama chili may have something to do with his family ties to Indonesia. I've lived in Indonesia for five years, and turmeric is in almost every food here. I love it!
    Second, I've seen a couple of people saying they're gone from home 10+ a timer from a hardware store (like the kind people use to get their house lights to come on at 6 every night) and plug your crockpot into it. Set it to turn on however many hours you need before you'll be home, and voila, no overcooked dinner. Hope that's helpful!

  40. About your comments...Oregano and Cumin are generally in Chili Powder. Turmeric is one of those "all purpose" kind of spices that can go just about anywhere. It's flavour is very mild and very often used for it's colour and preservative properties. Anyway, in my own chili (which changes often) I often use a package of taco seasoning (or my own taco seasoning mix), plus oregano, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and sometimes even Emeril's Bam seasoning, depending on my mood of course. Chili is what you make of it, to be honest. There's never a hard and fast rule - unless one cooks it for a contest, then it must never sport pasta or rice and sometimes even beans aren't allowed lol. Who would want it without beans I ask you?

  41. Anonymous6/26/2009

    I am sorry but we hated this "chili". My family is from Texas and this is just not chili. We did not care for it AT ALL. John McCain's ribs on the other hand are true BBQ ribs. Wonderful!!

    I really do enjoy most all of your recipes; thanks for such a helpful blog! =)


  42. I just made this last week and LOVED it. I have a hard time with spicy food, and my son does too, so this was a chili the whole family could enjoy!

  43. Just an FYI, eating chili over rice is a Hawaiian thing. They pretty much eat everything over rice here, lol! BTW, your site is awesome and I can't wait to try this recipe! Yummy!

  44. My modifications: I added a handful of corn. I used orange bell pepper instead of green. I sauteed onions a bit, added ground beef and then just before meat done browning added dry spices and chopped garlic.

    Clearly the onion/meat mess smelled good, but the aroma of fresh tomatoes and red wine vinegar was awesome and made me very hungry before I even turned on my Crock!

    The verdict: Yum! Chili had a bright, mild flavor. Lots of taste, not a lot of "heat." If you want hot and spicy, I'm sure this lovely chili could be doctored, but you might miss some of the subtle flavors if bolder spicing employed.

  45. I made this today. It was very good. Although the kids didn't eat it. We used stew meat instead of ground beef or chicken. I want to try the sweet potato chili next.

  46. Question for you, I made this chili in the height of garden season and now that tomaotes are NOT in their prime, could you use canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes? If so how many cans would you use?

  47. Hi Angela, I'd use 2 cans of diced tomatoes, drained.

  48. I just stumbled on your blog via Pinterest and love all your bean recipes. My family loves them and it's nice to find some new ideas. The name caught my eye and the recipe looks like something my guys will love. Thanks!

  49. Jean Silver8/25/2012

    cumin is the taste and fragrance of 'chili'..... great ingredient for those of us who have to eliminate most of the 'heat'. I have used it for years. love' love' love.

  50. How about printing the Padernales River Chili, the recipe used by Lyndon Johnson. I clipped it way back when he was president and it is the go-to recipe I have used for years. Marvelous.