Mel’s Diner Chili



Mel's Diner Chili

A few weeks ago I helped with a chili cook-off at church.  I’m not a big chili fan, so the thought of bringing a pot of chili was a bit scary.  I went on a search for great chili recipes and one of my readers who follows me on twitter saw my request.  Judy emailed me this recipe for Mel’s Diner Chili.

I didn’t end up having to take the chili to the cook-off because lots of other people signed up (I took the Chipotle Apple Pecan Cake instead).  But since I had the ingredients and because the chili has such a great story – and I’m a sucker for a great story – I made the chili for dinner at home.  Yum!

Here’s Judy’s email with the original recipe and the story:

Hi Tiffany,
You tweeted that you wanted an award-winning chili recipe.  My favorite chili recipe isn’t award-winning, but it’s famous.  It’s Mel’s Chili, from the show “Alice”.  My mom got the recipe when the actor who played Mel Sharples, Vic Tayback, was on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” way back when.  Here it is:
2 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
6 tomato paste cans water
1 clove garlic, minced
salt (I use1 tsp.)
1 tsp. pepper
1 large can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 pkg. chili seasoning mix
Simmer for two hours.  Add beans.  Heat 15 minutes.
Judy and I both tweaked the recipe a bit.  Here’s what I used:
chili ingr
Mel’s Diner Chili

Serving size: 6-8

  • 2 lbs ground beef (I used 1 lb. pork sausage + 1 lb. ground beef)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cans tomato paste (6 oz cans)
  • 6 tomato paste cans of water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 packs low-sodium chili seasoning mix
  • 1 can Fire Roasted tomatoes, undrained (Judy’s addition)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Brown the beef, onion and garlic. Drain and rinse under hot water.
  2. Add all the other ingredients.
  3. Simmer for a few hours or toss it in the crockpot and cook it on low for 5 or 6 hours. I didn’t have much time, so mine only cooked 45 minutes or so. It was still yummy.
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  1. This is just like my recipe except I add a couple tablespoons of brown sugar. Yum!

  2. Loving the print feature! Thanks for pointing that out a couple of blogs ago

  3. Sounds yummy!!! I don’t normally put pork in mine, but I’m going to try it!

  4. Bag of Boca Crumbles
    Large can crushed tomatoes
    can full of water
    1 large diced onion
    2 ribs of sliced celery
    1cup cooked pinto beans; from the freezer
    1/2 cup small pasta shapes; optional

    Place the first 5 ingredients in a small Crock Pot and cook on high for 4 hours. Add beans ( thawed or frozen). Cook until beans are warm.

    Taste; add seasonings to your liking. New Mexico Chili Powder for me.

    Check water level; add pasta and some liquids. Stir, taste, adjust seasonings. 1-2 packets of Splenda may be added. Cook on low for an hour until pasta is cooked. Or add frozen cooked pasta you have saved from past meals.

    Makes 4-6 servings and tastes great the next day. May freeze this too.

    When Publix has Boca Crumbles, BIGIF, I buy 2 sets. I am allergic to cow protein. Can’t eat tomatoes unless I am taking Claritin! $21 year (400) for Members Mark @ Sam’s Club generic Claritin.

  5. We had this tonight and it was great! Thanks! 🙂

  6. How much salt & pepper did you add?? It says to taste.
    When you added the can of fire roasted tomatoes, undrained and 2 pkgs of McCormick Chili seasoning mix, did it require as much as 1 tsp. of salt???

  7. my mouth watered when i watched him make it on the show , wish i had something like his to copare it to …..can’t wait to try it !!!! thanks!!!! (sure wish they would bring that show back ; ( (i liked the ol’ grump)!!!

  8. I make this all the time (but I substitute one 1b of ground beef for smoked sausage, in chunks)….everyone loves it, every time 🙂 Thanks so much!

  9. Why do you have to rinse the ground beef?

    • I rinse it to remove the extra grease. I use very hot water to rinse it. You don’t have to though.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you. Couldn’t figure that out. Never heard of rinsing your browned ground beef before. Was telling my wife she was puzzled also but said “maybe to rinse undraind grease!” But i won’t tell her she guessd right. Hahaha 🙂

  10. If you use lean ground beef, there is no need to rinse it and although it’s more expensive, you end up with more meat because it doesn’t turn into grease. I don’t even need to drain my ground beef usually.


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