Drunken Zombie Chili with Bourbon, Molasses & Sweet Potatoes

Delicious Recipes , Recipes By Cara
October 27, 2017

Drunken Zombie Chili with Bourbon, Molasses, and Sweet Potatoes is perfect for a Halloween party, to celebrate the change of season, or a lazy day at home. This concoction has a wonderful aroma from the combination of warm spices, and a delightfully color with the black beans and orange sweet potatoes in a dark, sweet and spicy sauce.

This is not your standard Tex-Mex style of Chili. The base is still tomatoes, cumin, cayenne, beef, and beans, However, the addition of cinnamon, cocoa powder, and molasses add a deep, rich and smoky flavor profile.  The pan is deglazed with bourbon to earn the drunken attribute!  If you want to get a really dark and boozy flavor, substitute the chicken stock with a dark bottled beer. This version is made with ground beef. Feel free to substitute ground turkey for beef or adjust to a meatless chili; just add more veggies and beans.


Drunken Zombie Chili takes about an hour from start to finish. I served it with a big basket of homemade cheddar cheese biscuits for a fun and delicious rainy Sunday at home meal watching motorsports. Add a Manhattan with a muddled orange slice and sit back and relax.


  • 1 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ½  teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅓  cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock + 1 more cup if needed (can substitute dark beer for chicken stock)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (or more to taste)


Add the oil and ground beef to a large Dutch oven pot and place over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Break the beef apart with a wooden spoon. Add the onion. Cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Beef should be cooked through. Drain off any excess liquid.

Add the garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to the beef. Cook over medium-high heat 1 - 2  minutes, stirring often until the aroma is garlic is released.  Turn off the flame and add the bourbon. Mix to combine and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Turn on heat to medium and cook for another 1 -2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and 1 cup chicken stock. Stir well. Bring the liquid to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, cinnamon, beans, sweet potatoes, molasses, and jalapenos.

Simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the chili is too thin, leave off the cover while simmering. If the chili is too thick add more chicken stock.

Let the chili rest for 5 minutes before serving. Can also be made the day ahead of time and stored in the fridge.

Serve hot.


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Cara Kretz

Are you a busy foodie looking for fabulous recipes and menu ideas? This is the place for you. Learn Cara's tips and tricks to being a great home cook. Food, family and love are everything.

For more delicious recipes visit her food blog.