Make this Italian Sausage and Pepper Chili for a tasty variation on the cool weather classic. It’s like an Italian hoagie in a bowl and so cozy.
This sausage chili is made with charred green bell peppers and onions and mild Italian sausage. It has the flavors of a sausage and peppers hoagie, but in a bowl. Amazing!
Our main ingredients for this chili recipe are the ground Italian sausage, bell peppers, and onions to get the taste of a sausage and pepper hoagie. You can buy mild sausages in links and then remove them from the casings, but it’s easier if you can find the mild Italian sausage ground meat. It looks a bit like ground beef but says “Mild Italian Sausage” on it. Alternatively, you can buy any kind of plain ground meat and then add Italian Sausage Seasoning to it.
A lot of the flavor in this recipe comes from caramelizing the peppers and onions, almost to the point of charring them, along with caramelizing the sausage and also the tomato paste. These layers of flavor, when combined, give the chili a “simmered all day” flavor.
Cannellini beans, also known as white beans or white northern beans, are optional. They do add a toothy texture to balance out the soft vegetables. They are also an economical way to stretch the meal, so I recommend them if you like beans in your chili. And, of course, plenty of crushed tomatoes.
The red wine vinegar cuts through the richness of this recipe, adding a bright note, much in the same way lemon juice brightens things up, without tasting like vinegar. We’ve also got seasonings with garlic powder, oregano, and chili powder.
How To Make Sausage And Pepper Chili
You’ll need a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot for this recipe because it cooks on very high heat, so you’ll need a pan that can take it.
To make the sausage chili, preheat the Dutch oven over high heat and add the olive oil. Add the peppers and onion once the olive oil is shimmering (this just means that it looks a little wavy in the bottom of the pan and this is an indication that the oil is very hot). Stir those veggies until they’re well-coated in the olive oil, and then leave them alone for a good five minutes. They’ll start to steam and, once the water evaporates, they’ll begin to caramelize. Stir them after the 5 minutes, and then let them sit for another three minutes without stirring.
Add the sausage meat and stir this around to mix it in, breaking it into crumbles as it cooks. Keep stirring and breaking apart any clumps until the sausage is just cooked through. This will take about another eight minutes. Then push everything in the pan to one side. There should be a little bit of fat in the bottom of the pan that has been rendered from the sausage at this point. Add the tomato paste to the fat, mix it a bit and then spread it out a little. Let the tomato paste stay like that for a good minute to caramelize.
Stir the caramelized tomato paste into the sausage meat mixture, and then leave it alone for five minutes. Stir, and then leave it alone again for another five minutes to give the sausage a chance to caramelize, too.
Stir in the beans, tomatoes, garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, salt, and red wine vinegar. Then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the chili, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Spoon it into bowls and top each serving with ¼ cup of the cheese. Sometimes I’ll spoon the chili into oven-proof bowls and place the bowls on a sheet pan and then under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. I always serve this with garlic bread made with my favorite garlic butter.
Podcast Episode About How To Make This Chili
Listen to me explain briefly about how to make this chili, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:Print
Try serving this delicious chili with fresh bread or garlic bread.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 green bell peppers, seeded, diced
- 1 large onion, peeled, diced
- 2 lbs. ground Italian sausage meat*
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 (15.5 oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed, well drained
- 1 (28 oz.) can peeled or crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot heat olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Stir in peppers and onion until well coated in oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, over high heat until peppers and onions begin to char, about 8 minutes.
- Add sausage meat. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking into crumbles, until just cooked through, about 8 minutes.
- Push sausage and vegetables to the side of pot. There will be a bit of fat revealed. Add tomato paste to that fat and then spread it into a flat layer. Cook, without stirring, to caramelize, about 1 minute.
- Stir tomato paste into sausage mixture. Let cook, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Stir to incorporate any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pot. Let cook, undisturbed, 5 minutes more.
- Stir in beans, tomatoes, garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, salt, and red wine vinegar. Reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
- Spoon into bowls. Top each serving with ¼ cup of the cheese.
*Italian sausage meat is the same meat that is inside of Italian sausage, but it is sold loose like ground beef instead of in sausage casings. If you have sausage in casings, you can remove the casings and use the meat from inside.