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Smoked Over the Top Chili

Our Smoked Over the Top Chili is full of tomatoes, onions, and beans, and gets its unique name from having a seasoned ground beef meatball cooked right over the top of the chili pot right in your pellet grill. 

Traeger Smoked Over the Top Chili

Traeger Over the Top Smoked Chili Recipe

This recipe has been making the rounds on Facebook for quite a while. The method itself was rumored to be started over in a Big Green Egg group, but it has taken on quite a life of its own in the few years since. 

I can’t believe it took us so long to try!

I took my Brisket Chili recipe and turned it into this Over the Top version, and added in a couple of different rubs to the mix.

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Traeger Smoked Over the Top Chili

Over the Top Chili shopping list

Want to know if you have to hit the store? Check out the list below!

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Traeger Smoked Over the Top Chili

How to make Over the Top Chili

Over the top chili is actually easier to make than regular chili, and is much more hands off. With this unique method, a giant seasoned ground beef meatball is smoked over the top of the chili pot with the chili base in it.

If you have a grill with a top shelf, you can position the meatball on the top shelf above the pot. Mine doesn’t, so we just used a baking rack on top of our Dutch oven for that part. Make sure to spray it with cooking spray first!

Here’s the run-down on the process so you know a bit about what you are getting into, but make sure to read the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the FULL instructions.

  1. Saute the onions and chilis in the Dutch oven until they are softened.
  2. Add the rest of the chili base ingredients to the pot and heat to a simmer.
  3. Form the meatball. Place on a rack on top of the Dutch oven.
  4. Place the whole shebang onto your pellet grill that’s set to 275°.
  5. Smoke at 275° for 45-60 minutes. Turn up the heat to 325° and cook until the meatball reaches 145-150°. Stir it periodically and watch that the chili base doesn’t reduce too much or burn. Add a little more water, if necessary.
  6. Put the meat into the chili base and break it up.
  7. Cook another 20 minutes or so, and serve hot.

More soup for you!

Traeger Smoked Over the Top Chili

Substitutions and Add-ins

As with the vast majority of my recipes, ad-libbing is basically required. No recipe is going to be perfect for EVERYONE since we are all so unique and have very different preferences, so I always encourage people to make it their own and adjust according to their own tastes.

Some easy substitutions and that can be made are listed below.

  • Throw in some more vegetables, like bell peppers, celery, etc.
  • Make it spicier! Hot sauce would make this even better!
  • Use your own chili spice mix.
  • Leave out the beans or add in more.
  • Think coffee or chocolate make chili amazing? Toss some in, if you are brave.

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Smoked Over the Top Chili Recipe

What can you serve with Smoked Over the Top Chili?

My favorite thing to serve with chili is Griddle Corn Cakes. We serve those with whipped honey butter and it is basically my favorite thing, ever.

If you have a special love for jalapenos, you might want to try our Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Muffins too!

I also have a pretty cool Instant Pot Cornbread recipe too.

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Smoked Over the Top Chili Recipe

What cocktails are best with chili?

With anything spicy, I like to get the shaker out and whip up a margarita. Even though that is traditionally served with Mexican dishes, it works really well with chili too.

My Classic Margarita is traditional, bright, and perfect. Use fresh limes and good tequila for the best results!

Like something a little fruity? I have a Raspberry Margarita and Blackberry Margarita too.

Try our Over the Top Sloppy Joes too!

Smoked Over the Top Chili Recipe

How can you get extra smoke into your chili?

If you LOVE chili and want to really maximize the smoke flavor you can also pre-smoke the onion and chilies before tossing them in the pot instead of sauteing them.

I think this was the perfect level of smoke for the dish though!

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This was phenomenal! I used Sam Adams lager in place of the water and added extra hatch chiles. I smoked the onion & peppers before hand as well. It was SPICY but so so delicious.

Marina – on pinterest

Smoked Over the Top Chili Recipe
Yield: 12 servings

Traeger Smoked Over the Top Chili Recipe

Smoked Over the Top Chili Recipe

Delicious smoked over the top chili is one for the "keeper" file! Smoked seasoned ground beef is crumbled and put into a rich chili base

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes



  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced chilies or peppers, like hatch or jalapeño or bell peppers (I used hatch chilies that were located in a bag in the refrigerated section)
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 15oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel (whichever flavor is your favorite)
  • 28 oz can water
  • 1-2 cans chili beans (optional)
  • 1 package chili seasoning mix (or your own, but I like the one in the pics by Carroll Shelby.)
  • SPG to taste


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon hatch chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon SPG
  • Generous amounts of Jalapeño Lime Pilsner rub (optional)


  1. In a large Dutch oven on the stovetop, heat over medium heat until hot. Add onions and chilies and cook until soft. 
  2. Add in all the tomatoes, the water, and the chili seasoning mix and stir to combine. Heat over medium heat until simmering. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the meat ingredients, holding off on the rub, form into a large ball, sprinkle all sides with the jalapeño lime Pilsner rub (if using) and place the whole things on a rack above the chili. 
  4. Place onto your preheated pellet grill at 275 degrees. Cook for 45-60 minutes stirring the chili periodically. 
  5. Turn the grill up to 325-350 and continue cooking until the meat is 145-150 degrees. 
  6. Place the meat into the chili and break it apart. 
  7. Cook another 20 minutes, stirring well, and serve hot.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 327Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 752mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 27g

Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate.

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Saturday 12th of November 2022

What is SPG?

Nicole Johnson

Saturday 12th of November 2022

Salt, Pepper, Garlic. There are tons of blends out there. You can also make your own according to your own preferences. I'd start out with a 1:1:1 mix and adjust from there.


Sunday 16th of January 2022

So your recipe is different at the top than it is at the bottom. Different times and temps for each. What is correct?

Nicole Johnson

Sunday 16th of January 2022

Well, the good news is that either set of instructions would get you to the same place, which is a delicious bowl of chili. I corrected the post though to make them match up because that was confusing (and unintentional). Thanks for letting me know!

Rick C

Sunday 3rd of October 2021

I've modified the over the top procedure. Use 1/4 of the veggies finer chopped in the meat. Smoke softball size meatballs on the grate about 45 minutes until a 1/4" or more skin forms. Coarsely chop the meatballs and add them and another lb or so of ground beef pre-cooked just enough to completely crumble. Simmer around 200 degrees for another hour or so, then cover and simmer for up to 3 hours. Beer is involved both for the recipe and for the chef so be careful not to let it burn or thicken too much.

Kevin Toups

Saturday 2nd of October 2021

So, ground wagu works great as well. I tend to put the dark beer, onions, peppers and half the spices into the oven safe pan beneath the rack with the ground meat.

I smoke for about 4 hours, not caring if the meat dries or otherwise.

Then I bring it all back inside, add my tomatoes, sauce, paste, additional spices, beans, etc. Then show cook on low for an additional 2 hours.

I also add smoke paprika and a half teaspoon of liquid smoke.

Finish off the bowl with smoked cheddar and a little sour cream.

My neighbors come begging every time and I've won 3 chili cookouts, 2 tiny, one large, with this recipe.


Friday 3rd of February 2023

@Kevin Toups, I'm questioning why you'd bother using the smoker if you're just going to end up using liquid smoke to deliver smoke flavor. Probably could save yourself time, energy and money by just using a touch more liquid smoke, no?

Kevin Toups

Sunday 23rd of October 2022

@Kevin Toups, just made it again.

Did not even know I left the comment last year..

Anyway, still awesome.

S. Wells

Sunday 26th of September 2021

This was really good. I had time to smoke it for a couple hours beforehand and I'm glad I did because the flavor was fantastic. Will definitely make it again!

Nicole Johnson

Monday 27th of September 2021

That's amazing! Thanks for stopping by and letting us know, Shelby!

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