The Washington Post

The Office Chili

The Office Chili 8.000

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Sep 27, 2022

“This is it folks. My own personal go-to chili recipe,” actor Brian Baumgartner, who played chili expert and accountant Kevin Malone on NBC’s “The Office,” writes in his “Seriously Good Chili Cookbook.” Baumgartner captured hearts in Season 5 when his character makes and magnificently spills a big batch of chili, but unlike that character, Baumgartner did not have a recipe handed down for generations. Instead, he created his own recipe after much testing and adjusting. He relies on Bush’s mild chili sauce beans for a flavor boost, but you can use your favorite beans. His topping suggestions are: shredded cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapeños, avocado mash and crumbled tortilla chips. We liked it with chopped red onion, too.

Total time: 1 hour 10 mins

Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

8 - 10

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-10 servings; makes about 14 cups

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, canola or other neutral oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (8 ounces), chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper (7 ounces), seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey or ground beef (90 percent lean or higher)
  • One (6-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato paste
  • One (24-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • One (16-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • One (16-ounce) can Bush’s Pinto Beans in Mild Chili Sauce, undrained
  • One (16-ounce) can Bush’s Kidney Beans in Mild Chili Sauce, undrained
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, avocado chunks, chopped red onion and/or pickled jalapeños and sour cream, for serving (optional)


In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions, green bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are just translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the meat and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until still slightly pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the meat is cooked through and the paste darkens a bit, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, if using, chili powder, oregano, ancho chile powder, salt, sugar and black pepper until well combined, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the beans, cover and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until heated through and at the desired consistency. Taste and add more salt and pepper, as needed. Also, you can add more water, 1/4 cup at a time, if you think the chili is too thick.

Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with your choices of cheddar cheese, avocado, chopped red onion, pickled jalapeños and/or sour cream and serve.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Seriously Good Chili Cookbook” by Brian Baumgartner (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (1 1/3 cups): 331

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 10g 15%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 67mg 22%

Sodium: 699mg 29%

Total Carbohydrates: 37g 12%

Dietary Fiber: 8g 32%

Sugar: 13g

Protein: 25g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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