Three bean chili garnished with cilantro, avocado and jalapeños.

Three Bean Drunken Chili

Nothing goes better with cool fall weather than a great bowl of Three Bean Drunken Chili. This version is a hearty, chunky, soulful dish we make when the first cold spell comes over the Rocky mountains heralding Winter. You have an option to keep it vegetarian or with meat. Or you can make both!

Three bean chili in a bowl.

Coming inside from and exhausting day to a steaming bowl of chili that you can top with fresh cilantro, avocado, and jalapeños is all you need. 

Why should you Make this Three bean Drunken chili?

The beans provide protein and fiber while the vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. At its base, it’s a totally vegan stew but you have the option to make it with beef. Or you can make two batches that will serve both vegans and omnivores. 

Even thought it takes some active time to prepare and put the dish together, most of the cooking is hands-off. Baking in the oven, long and slow, gives a chance for all the flavors to marry together.

Even though this recipe uses dry beans, canned beans are perfectly fine.

Ingredients / Grocery list / Pantry list 

  • Beef chuck roast – trimmed and cut into ½ – 1-inch chunks
  • Dry guajillo chiles – Whole dry chiles are the basis of Latin sauces, salsas, and moles. Toasted and saturated chiles have hints of smoke and fruitiness. You can use any type of mild dried chile or simply substitute it with chipotle in adobo sauce. 
  • Onion and garlic
  • Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes or yams, give a hint of sweetness and nice balance with the bitterness of the beer and spices.
  • Parsnip – This root vegetable withstands long cooking and has a settled floral taste. Related to carrot and parsley it has a very unique flavor. 
  • Spices (cumin, coriander, chipotle, chili powder) – These are the basic spices for the chili stew. You can adjust the spice combination to your liking.
  • Diced tomatoes – canned or fresh
  • Beer – beer, ale, or lager can be used. Beer is another flavor enhancer. Any type of beer will work. By the time the chili is done cooking all the alcohol has evaporated.
  • Beans – For this recipe, I use three types of beans: black beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans. I prefer to pre-cook my own beans, but canned beans are perfectly fine. Try to get unsalted, and unflavored beans if you would like to add your own seasoning. They even sell three beans together.
  • Red bell pepper – Add half of the chopped bell pepper to the stew and half fresh. 
  • Cilantro – Use as a topping before serving. Fresh tender leaves are best and an amazing addition. 
  • Avocado – Use slices of avocado. 
  • Jalapeños – fresh (we pull the seeds out to lessen the heat).
  • Chips


  • You can use canned beans as a quick option. Using dry beans will require pre-soaking and pre-cooking the beans.
  • The beef can be omitted completely or you can divide the stew into two portions and add beef to one of them.
  • Any root vegetables can work: carrots, turnips, squash, russet potato.

Special Tools to Use:

  • Stove top and oven-proof dutch oven or clay cassolette. 

Time Required:

If using dry beans, this step will require at least 8 hours of pre-soaking and an hour and a half for cooking.

15- 20 minutes for chopping, prepping, and active cooking. There would be additional hands-off baking in the oven for an hour and a half. 

How to Make – Step by Step 

Soaking and pre-cooking the beans

If using dry beans you need to soak and pre-cook the beans ahead of time. You can do this at least a week ahead of time and store the cooked beans in a jar with the cooking liquid.

The beans usually double and triple in size so keep that in mind. 

Since I used three types of beans I soak them separately, as the different type of beans vary in their cooking time. 

Remove any debris or visibly blemished pieces, wash them, and cover them with cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt and baking soda. 

After 24 hours, rinse the beans again and put fresh cold water, and cook each type of bean in a separate pot. 

Once the water starts boiling you will see the foam forming on the top, skim this and discard. 

Give the beans a stir, lower the heat and cover the pot. 

Cook for 1 – 1.5 hours. Check the beans for doneness. 

Toasting the chilis

Make sure there are no seeds and stems in the chilis.

Heat a stainless steel skillet. Add the chiles and toast over medium-low heat. Press them down with a spatula so they are fully touching the hot surface. 
Transfer them to a heat-proof bowl and pour 1-2 cups of boiling water.
Let stand for at least 20 minutes until the chiles are softened. Transfer the chiles with the liquid into a blender and puree. 

Browning the beef

Three-bean-chili beef chunks on a cutting board.

If you want to make this chili with beef follow this step otherwise go to the next step.

Pat dry and season the beef with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an oven-proof Dutch oven until shimmering. Add the beef and cook over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes. Toss and turn for the beef to brown from all sides. 
Remove the beef to a plate and cover until later. 

Browning the Vegetable and Spice Base

Preheat the oven to 300 °F (140°C).

In a large oven-proof dutch oven, saute the onions until softened, and add the garlic until fragrant. 

Three bean chili-step-by-step, sautéing the vegetable.

Next, add the yam and parsnip. Add all the spices and season with salt and pepper. If using the guajillo chile puree, add it now. 

After the vegetables are nicely sweated add a can of beer, ale, or lager. 

Three bean chili step-by-step adding beans.

Add the cooked or canned beans, diced tomatoes, and half of the bell peppers. Stir and bring to a boil.

Baking the chili

Baking this chili in the oven simulates the “slow cooker” technique that blends all the flavors together – making this stew so delectable. 

At this time you can add the beef. You can even divide the batch into two and make one of them with beef and leave the other batch as vegetarian. This will give the option to have two dishes that can please both vegans and omnivores. 

Cover and transfer pot to oven and leave it.

Three-bean-chili ready to eat.

The Best Way to Serve this Three Bean Chili

Three-bean-chili with chips.

Serve chili with a few condiments and topping. Chopped cilantro, avocado, jalapenos, a dollop of sour cream with chips.

Three Bean Drunken Chili

This three bean chili stew is a perfect dish for a cool day. Top with fresh cilantro, avocado, and jalapenos.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 30 minutes
Main Course


  • 1 pound beef chuck roast cubed
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 guajillo chiles
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 pounds yam peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 parsnip peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chile in adobo sauce minced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can beer
  • 3 15-ounce cans beans, rinsed 5-6 cups of cooked beans
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado
  • Jalapenos


  • If using dry beans see instructions above; you will need to soak and pre-cook the beans ahead of time.
  • Toasting the chilis:
  • Rinse the guajillo chiles and removed the seeds and stems. Toast on a dry skillet for a few minutes, then put in a glass bowl with 1-cup of boiling water. Let it saturate for 15-20 minutes. After that, transfer the chiles with the liquid into a blender and puree.
  • In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large ovenproof cast iron or clay cassoulet until shimmering, pat dry the beef chunks with salt and pepper and add. Add the beef and cook over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes. Toss and turn to brown from all sides.
  • Remove the beef to a plate and cover until later.
  • Browning the Vegetable and Spice Base:
  • Using the same dutch oven, sautee the onions until softened for 2-3 minutes, and add the garlic.
  • Next, add the diced yam and parsnip. Add all the spices and season with salt and pepper.
  • If using the guajillo chiles puree, add it now. Give it a good stir and add a can of beer. Add the cooked or canned beans, diced tomatoes, and half of the bell peppers. Stir and bring it to a boil.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 °F (140°C).
  • Add the reserved beef to the pot, mix it all together, and put the cassoulet into the oven. Let it cook for 1.5 hours.
  • Remove the chili from the oven, add the remaining bell peppers. Let it sit for a few minutes and serve.
  • Use chopped cilantro, avocado, and jalapenos for garnish and chips.


If you choose to make the vegetarian option and omit the meat, the cooking/baking time can be reduced to 1-hour. 


Calories: 329kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 473mg | Potassium: 1083mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1248IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 3mg
Servings: 6
Calories: 329kcal
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