Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

Cover recipe- Cooking Light,  Beef and Pinto Bean Chili: Jan/Feb 2010

I wasn’t really sure which cover I wanted to tackle until I saw the January/February issue of Cooking Lighton the newsstands boasting their “best chili.”  A lot of people claim to have the best chili recipe (after all, there are entire cookbooks and cook-off events dedicated to chili…), so I decided it was a claim worth evaluating.  Plus, what could be better than chili simmering on the stove on a cold winter day?

The issue features three separate chili recipes – an all-veggie chili, a beef and bean chili, and a Texas-style chili.  In addition to the three recipes, the issue also includes a section on chili basics, allowing the reader to follow a few simple steps to create an unlimited number of original chili recipes.  While creating my own chili recipe sounded like a lot of fun to me, the cover shows a picture of the Beef and Pinto Bean Chili, so that’s the one I tackled.

Read my notes below to see what I thought of the recipe.

Print Print Recipe

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 2 hour


Cooking spray
1  pound  boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
2  tablespoons  canola oil
4  cups  chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1/4  cup  minced jalapeño peppers (about 2 large)
10  garlic cloves, minced
1  (12-ounce) bottle beer
1  tablespoon  paprika
1  tablespoon  ground cumin
2  tablespoons  tomato paste
3  cups  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1  (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1  (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2  cup  thinly sliced radish
1  avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped
6  tablespoons  small cilantro leaves
6  tablespoons  sour cream
6  lime wedges


1. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeño; sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broth, tomatoes, beans and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
2. Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls. Divide radish and avocado evenly among bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro and 1 tablespoon sour cream. Serve with lime wedges.


*My hubby and I don’t drink much beer, so I didn’t have any on hand when I was making this recipe. Instead, I substituted some additional beef stock. The substitution worked well, but I do think that the beer would have added some additional depth to the flavor of the dish.
*I followed the instructions and I coated my pan with cooking spray prior to cooking the beef.  However, it seems strange to me to cook the beef with the cooking spray and then add oil to cook the veggies. Next time, I will add the oil at the beginning to help to sear off the beef.  The veggies can then be cooked in the remaining oil and rendered drippings from the beef.
*It was really messy to drain and chop the canned whole tomatoes. Consider crushing the tomatoes in a bowl with a spoon or using canned diced tomatoes to avoid a lot of tomato carnage all over your cutting board (and countertops, if you’re messy like me).
*I generally prefer extra virgin olive oil to canola oil (except in baking and other situations where a lighter flavored oil is necessary), so I would probably substitute olive oil next time.
*I would also use smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika in this dish, because I like my chili to be really smokey.  Either way, be sure to use a good quality paprika!

Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1/6th of the recipe
Calories per serving: 421
Fat per serving: 23g
Saturated Fat per serving: 6.8g
Fiber per serving: 8.5g
Protein per serving: 21.6g
Carbohydrates per serving: 30.4g

Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2010

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

No. While I thought this was a decent chili recipe, I don’t think it lived up to the claim of being the “best.” I also found it interesting that this recipe had the most calories and fat of the three chili recipes featured in the issue. I would have much rather seen the all-veggie chili on the cover because I think it better represents Cooking Light and sounds just as flavorful!

Lori is the founder of She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at

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17 Responses to “Chocolate- Mint Bars”

  1. 1

    Tracey — March 10, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

    I love the chocolate/mint combo so these look fantastic to me! Even better that it’s a CL recipe :)

  2. 2

    Cookin' Canuck — March 11, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    These sounds like a wonderful, lightened-up treat to indulge in. Perfect for St. Paddy’s Day.

  3. 3

    A Bowl Of Mush — March 11, 2011 @ 9:32 am

    Ooh I want one now! Yum!!

  4. 4

    Jenny Flake — March 11, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    That last photo is so gorgeous! making me want a mint bar asap!!

  5. 5

    Sandra Simmons — March 11, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    THANK YOU for posting the WW points! I would love to make this but 7 is steep and would just multiply since I would probably eat the whole pan!

  6. 6

    Tracy — March 11, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    Perfect for St. Patty’s Day! Yum!

  7. 7

    Laurel — March 11, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    These look so delicious, and pretty! We’re featuring all things GREEN this week on the M&T Spotlight and I’d love for you to submit this.

  8. 8

    Evan Thomas — March 12, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

    Yum! I would hope for a fudgier brownie but even so these sound terrific. I made a recipe similar to this back in January. Dare I say they were my favorite brownies ever?

  9. 9

    Brian @ A Thought For Food — March 12, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    One of my favorite things that my mom makes is a chocolate mint bar… that’s exactly like this.

    I just read your note that said that they’re good cold… YES! We always kept them in the freezer. It’s so much better that way.

  10. 10

    bridget {bake at 350} — March 12, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

    Oh, I’m so craving chocolate and mint right now. Have something planned for next week, but it’s not light….and it SHOULD be; I’m *trying* to be good! ;) Darn those WW points!

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Lori!

  11. 11

    Barbara | VinoLuciStyle — March 12, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

    I’ve been making a non light version of these for holiday gift baskets for yeasr. I’m anxious to try these and see the difference.

    One thing; that top layer used to be a problem until I started using a warm knife. Dip your knife into very hot water before slicing the squares, it should help to keep it from cracking without having to let the dessert warm up.

  12. 12

    grace — March 13, 2011 @ 12:09 am

    bliss. yes, these are perfect for good ol’ st patty’s day, but they’re more than welcome in my belly any day. :)

  13. 13

    anjali — March 14, 2011 @ 12:02 am

    These look so delicious! I have a feeling I’ll be making these someday soon.

  14. 14

    Jeannie — March 17, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    looks so good! I am so drooling !

  15. 15

    Heather — April 17, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    Made this yesterday and I must say it’s delish!!!!!! Cannot stop eating this and I still need to bring it to my moms for Sunday dinner!!

  16. 16

    WEndy Moor — December 17, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

    THESE ARE SO GOOD. My sister made them last year. Couldn’t believe they were “light.” So glad I found this recipe :)

  17. 17

    Pat Kachold — December 20, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

    I call them Frango Mint Bars. They are one of my must bake Christmas bars.
    I’ve been making these for at least 20 years. Don’t remember where the recipe came from but they are a seasonal favorite of mine. I do make them on special occasions When asked. Everyone should have this recipe in their recipe box.

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