Score a touchdown on Super Bowl Sunday with the ultimate in game-day comfort food — a big pot of chili. In our house, that means ground beef with pinto beans and LOTS of Fritos and cheddar cheese.

Follow this playbook to create multiple types of chili (beef, turkey, pork or chicken) all done your way. Pick and choose ingredients based on what you have on hand or what you’re craving. Come game day, set out a pot of chili (or two), along with a bevy of toppings, and let family members design their own plays.

To test this recipe, I made three pots of chili at once. After chopping the veggies (and chicken thighs, if using), it’s just as easy to make three pots as it is one. This serves two purposes — it gives your guests more to choose from and leaves a decent quantity of leftovers to freeze for later.

Enjoy the Super Bowl, or the commercials, if that’s more your thing, by making the chili ahead of time and keeping it warm in a Dutch oven on the stove or in a slow-cooker. Prep all the toppings in small bowls before the game so all that’s needed is a quick time-out to grab dinner.

Makes 3 quarts

Mix and match ingredients to create a chili blend all your own. Pick a meat or keep it vegetarian by adding extra veggies, the choice is yours.

Step 1: Start here

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.

Step 2: Pick your meat (or skip to the next step for vegetarian chili)

2 pounds ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork

2 pounds diced boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add the meat to the skillet with the onion mixture. Season with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often to break up the meat, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Spice things up (choose one, two or all three)

3 tablespoons chili powder, plus a pinch of cinnamon

1 tablespoon cocoa powder, plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 minced chipotle in adobo, plus 1-2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce

Stir in one of the spice combinations and stir until combined. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Step 4: Add the veggies (chose as many as you like)

1 chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper

1 seeded and diced red, yellow or green bell pepper

1 seeded and diced poblano or Anaheim pepper

1-2 cups corn kernels

2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato or butternut squash

Add as many or as little vegetables as you like and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 5: Make it saucy

2 cans diced or crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted or regular)

2 (16-ounce) jars salsa verde

2 (16-ounce) jars red chile sauce or red enchilada sauce

Pour in the sauce, along with 1½ to 2 cups water, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes.

Step 6: Beans! (choose as many as you like)

2 cans pinto, black, kidney or white beans

2 cans chickpeas

2 cans hominy (or one larger can)

2 cups cooked lentils

Stir in beans (drain them if you like — I stir in the whole can of beans but drain the hominy). Cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.

Step 7: Serve it up

Serve in a bowl as is, or pile over:

Hot dogs

Steamed rice or cooked barley or other grains


Baked potatoes

Crumbled cornbread

Step 8: Gild the lily (choose as many as you like!)

Grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese

Sliced fresh or pickled jalapenos

Shredded green cabbage or iceberg lettuce

Sliced green onions or finely diced white or red onions

Diced avocado tossed in lime

Sliced radishes

Frito corn chips or tortilla strips

Crumbled cornbread

Sour cream