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Walt Disney's Chili

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The Plan for Walt Disney's Chili

I found Walt Disney's personal chili recipe in one of my two Disney books. I was so excited to make it. I had been planning it all week. I was looking forward to enjoying a bowl of chili and a slice of cornbread while my Packers took on the Falcons. Spoiler alert: my afternoon did not go as planned.

Some Changes I Made

As you will see from the pictures below, I did not keep the recipe exactly as it was written. I added kidney beans to the pinto beans because I had grown up with them in my chili, and I feel that they belong in a bowl of chili, but I ended up having to use a bigger pot and remove about 1/3 of the beans to use later in something else. I forgot about the onions entirely, so I didn't have them in the pot to simmer with the beans.

Because I like my chili a bit more like a thick soup or stew, I added a can of tomato paste, a can of tomato sauce, and a little water (maybe 1/2 cup) to my chili. I also added some onion powder (remember I had forgotten to get onions), a little garlic salt, and more of the original three spices the recipe called for.

The result was a chili that was more similar to what I had grown up with and delicious, though not perfect, as you'll see below.

How Long It Will Take

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

9 hours

2 hours

11 hours

Enough for 4 with leftovers

Ingredients (Original Walt Disney Version)

  • 2 pounds pinto beans, dried
  • 2 white onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried
  • 28oz chopped tomatoes, canned


  1. Wash and soak the beans. Soak the beans overnight in a covered container. Make sure to use cold water.
  2. Drain the beans and move them to a large pot. Add fresh water and the onions. Make sure the water is a couple of inches above the beans and onions. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  3. In a large pot, saute garlic in vegetable oil. When the garlic starts to get soft, add the ground beef (or turkey) and celery. Cook until meat is browned.
  4. Add the chili powder, paprika, and thyme to the meat mixture. Stir until well combined, then add the chopped tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. When the beans are tender, add them to the meat mixture. Be sure to stir gently to avoid damaging the beans.
  6. Add additional spices to taste and serve hot.

Other Things to Consider Adding

If you want to kick your chili up a notch, consider adding some of the following:

  • ground ginger
  • turmeric
  • cinnamon
  • dried hot peppers
  • diced bell peppers
  • cloves
  • coriander
  • cayenne pepper
  • crushed tomatoes
  • celery seed

The list can go on and on, but this is just a start. Some people like their chili spicy. Some people prefer savory. If you aren't a fan of beans take them out entirely and maybe try a different kind of ground meat. Try venison, turkey, lamb, or bison. If meat isn't your thing, try a veggie chili with different kinds of squashes. Make it your own. After all, you will be the one eating it, so you might as well make it something you will enjoy.

How Did It Turn Out?

In the end, I was happy with what I had made. The beans never did become tender. I think I may have done something wrong when I was cooking them. Maybe the heat wasn't high enough, or I didn't let them simmer long enough. They were edible but not as soft as I would have liked. I think next time I will just use canned beans since it is considerably easier. But, I got to do something I had never done before so I am glad I had the experience.

I ended up with a lot more chili than I had originally planned on having. I think I'll try freezing some and see if it freezes well for future use.

Overall I'd say this recipe is worth trying. If you need to make changes, I found that the recipe was rather forgiving. When I needed to add the tomato paste, the tomato sauce, and the extra spices, I just simmered the entire chili for an extra half hour to let the flavors meld together.

If you decide to give this recipe a try let me know. Did you feel like you needed to add something? How did it turn out? I'd love to hear from you.

I like my chili with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and crackers. But you can top it with anything you like.

I like my chili with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and crackers. But you can top it with anything you like.

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