I Tried Making Kevin's Famous Chili From 'The Office'—Here's What Happened
If you're a fan of the show "The Office," then you most likely know the exact moment someone is referring to when they say "Kevin's Famous Chili." The opening scene to episode 26 of season five has unexpectedly become a cultural phenomenon and arguably one of the show's most iconic moments.
"The scene was only 35 seconds long but it is easily one of the most well-known intros to an episode in the series' history," writes Shane Lao via TODAY. In fact, the chili scene became so famous that the entire episode, named "Casual Friday," even has its own Wikipedia page.
In the opening scene, we see Kevin carrying an enormous pot full of chili from his car to the Dunder Mifflin office while he narrates his excitement. "At least once a year, I like to bring in some of my Kevin's Famous Chili."
Audience members can see disaster coming from a mile away as he's struggling to carry the heavy pot while simultaneously narrating the details of his hard work. "It's a recipe passed down from Malones for generations." Then, unsurprisingly, Kevin drops the chili and it spills all over the carpet floor. As he's desperately scooping the remains back into the pot and sliding around in his own creation, you hear him say, "It's probably the thing I do best."
In an interview with TODAY, Brian Baumgartner—the actor who plays Kevin Malone—talks about the unexpected cult following that has gathered behind Kevin's Famous Chili. "It was like, well, you're not escaping this, we might as well embrace it," he tells TODAY.
For a while, Office fans had to do their best to piece together Kevin's narration of his recipe on their own if they wanted to attempt making his famous chili. That was until an easter egg was discovered, tucked away in Peacock's User Agreements. The full list of ingredients and cooking instructions are listed in detail, as seen in a Tik Tok by Mckenzie Floyd.
As if this weren't enough for diehard Office fans, Brian Baumgartner has released his cookbook, "Seriously Good Chili Cookbook," which of course includes a recipe for Kevin's Famous Chili.
In honor of Baumgartner's new book and the sheer magnitude of fame that this opening scene of episode 26 has cultivated, I felt it was necessary that I try making Kevin's Famous Chili for myself.
Making Kevin's Famous Chili
If you happened to read my article on the best salad I've ever tried, then you know I'm still a beginner in the kitchen. Thankfully, after reading over the recipe, I felt confident that I couldn't mess up chili too terribly. I followed the recipe as listed by Peacock, and I've included every step at the bottom of this article for you to try yourself.
Getting the ingredients
Office fans know that for Kevin, the love of his chili is found in the details. "I toast my own Ancho chilis," he says. Unfortunately, after gathering things like beef, beef stock, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes, the proper seasoning powders, and even a can of beer, I discovered that I couldn't find Ancho chilis at any of my local grocery stories.
It seemed like utter blasphemy to continue on without the Ancho chilis. In the same way that Kevin fumbled his pot of chili all over the office floor, I felt like I was already fumbling the recipe by missing this key ingredient. But I would just have to do without.
Cooking and preparing the ingredients
In Kevin's famous narration of his chili process, he says, "the trick is to undercook the onions." I was determined to successfully do this, so I started by chopping the yellow onions. I bragged about this in my salad article, and I'll brag about it again here: learning how to properly dice an onion has changed the way I cook forever. However, my dicing skills haven't made me immune to the dreaded onion-induced tears.
The rest of the recipe was fairly simple, it just required a decent amount of chopping and prep work. The only other issues I personally ran into were related to not having the right kitchen gadgets. Kevin says he uses a garlic press to press it into the chili, and he also uses a potato masher to mash the beans. I had to improvise by just finely chopping the garlic and mashing the beans with a fork.
Then, once everything was prepared, I threw every ingredient together and let simmer for about 2 hours, which Kevin famously refers to as "everybody is going to get to know each other in the pot."
The final product
One thing that I quickly realized is that my version of this chili seemed to have a bit more of a liquid texture than the one from the show, so I was a bit nervous to try the finished product.
Thankfully, my version of Kevin's Famous Chili turned out to be delicious (and my roommates agreed). I topped the chili off with some scallions, shredded cheese, and sour cream per the recipe's suggestion, and even though I added just a bit of cheese to get a beautiful final photo, I immediately piled on more before eating.
Overall, cooking this Office-inspired chili was a fun and easy experience, and I'd absolutely cook it again (next time with the Ancho chilis, though). I was proud of myself for the final product and was especially thrilled that I avoided any Kevin-like fumbles onto the kitchen floor.
Kevin's Famous Chili recipe as listed by Peacock
- 4 dried ancho chiles
- 2 Tbs neutral oil (vegetable, canola or grapeseed)
- 3 lbs ground beef (80/20 or 85/15 lean)
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped
- 1 Tbs dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbs tomato paste
- 2 12 oz. bottles of beer (lager or pale ale)
- 3 cans Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups beef stock
- 2 ½ cups chopped ripe tomatoes
- 2 Tbs kosher salt
- Chopped scallions, shredded Jack cheese and sour cream for topping
– Tear ancho chiles into pieces, discarding seeds and stems. In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, toast chiles over medium-high, stirring occasionally until very fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer toasted ancho chiles to a food processor or spice mill and process until very finely ground. Set aside.
– Add oil to pot and heat over medium-high. Add ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally to break beef into small pieces, until well browned (about 6 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a plate and set aside.
– Add onion to pot and cook briefly over medium-high until barely softened, about 2 minutes. The secret is to undercook the onions.
– Using a garlic press, press garlic directly into the pot, 1 clove at a time. Then stir in jalapeños, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper and tomato paste. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add beer and continue to cook, stirring and scraping the pan, about 7 minutes.
– Meanwhile, put beans in a large bowl and mash briefly with a potato masher until broken up but not fully mashed.
– Add mashed beans, stock, tomatoes, salt, and cooked beef to pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low to maintain simmer and cook 2 hours so everything gets to know each other in the pot. Remove from heat, uncover and let stand at least 1 hour (can also be refrigerated 8 hours or overnight).
– Reheat gently, taste and add more salt if necessary, and serve with your favorite toppings. We recommend chopped scallions, shredded Jack cheese and sour cream.