If you’re a fan of The Office, then you most likely know the exact moment someone is referring to when they say “Kevin’s Famous Chili.” The opening scene of 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’s easily one of the most recognizable episode intros in the history of the show,” writes Shane Lao via TODAY. In fact, the chili scene became so famous that the entire episode called “Casual Friday” even has its own Wikipedia page.
In the opening scene, we see Kevin carrying a huge pot of chili from his car to Dunder Mifflin’s office while he shares his excitement. “At least once a year I like to bring home some of my Kevin’s Famous Chili.”
Viewers can see disaster coming from a mile away as he struggles to carry the heavy pot while also recounting the details of his hard work. “It’s a recipe that has been passed down from generations of Malones.” Then, unsurprisingly, Kevin drops the chili and it spills the entire carpet. As he frantically shovels the leftovers back into the pot and scoots around in his own creation, he can be heard saying, “That’s probably what 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 can’t escape this, we might as well embrace it,” he says TODAY.
For a while, Office fans had to do their best to piece together Kevin’s narrative of his recipe themselves if they wanted to try making his famous chili. That was until an Easter egg was discovered hidden in Peacock’s user agreement. The full ingredient list and cooking instructions are detailedas seen in a McKenzie Floyd Tik Tok.
As if that wasn’t enough for die-hard Office fans, Brian Baumgartner has published 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 scale of fame this episode 26 opening scene has spawned, I felt the need to try making Kevin’s Famous Chili for myself.
Making Kevin’s famous chili
If you happened to read my article about the best salad I’ve ever tasted, then you know I’m still a beginner in the kitchen. Luckily, after reading the recipe, I was confident that I couldn’t screw up chili to terrible. I followed the recipe listed by Peacock and have included each step at the bottom of this article for you to try for yourself.
Office fans know that for Kevin, love for his chilli is in the details. “I toast my own ancho chiles,” he says. Sadly, after gathering things like beef, beef broth, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes, the right spice powders, and even a can of beer, I found that I couldn’t find ancho chiles in any of my local grocery stores.
It seemed like complete blasphemy to go on without the ancho chilies. Just as Kevin fiddled with his pot of chili all over the office, I felt like I was already fumbling with the recipe because I was missing out on this key ingredient. But I would just have to do without it.
Cooking and preparing ingredients
In Kevin’s famous tale of his chili process, he says, “The trick is to undercook the onions.” I was determined to do this successfully, so I started chopping the yellow onions. I bragged about it in my salad article, and I’ll brag about it again here: Learning how to properly dice an onion changed the way I cook forever. However, my dice skills haven’t made me immune to the dreaded onion tears.
The rest of the recipe was pretty easy, just requiring a decent amount of chopping and prep work. The only other issues I personally encountered were not having the right kitchen appliances. 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 finely chopping the garlic and mashing the beans with a fork.
Then, when everything was prepped, I tossed all the ingredients together and let it simmer for about 2 hours, which Kevin famously refers to as “everyone will meet in the pot”.
The end product
One thing I quickly realized was that my version of this chili seemed to have a slightly more runny texture than the one from the show, so I was a little nervous about trying the finished product.
Luckily, my version of Kevin’s Famous Chili turned out to be delicious (and my roommates agreed). I topped the chili with scallions, shredded cheese, and sour cream as per the recipe suggestion, and while I only added a bit of cheese for a nice final photo, I immediately piled on more before eating.
Overall, cooking this office-inspired chilli was a fun and easy experience, and I would definitely cook it again (next time with the ancho chiles though). I was proud of the end product and was particularly thrilled that I avoided Kevin-esque fiddling on the kitchen floor.
Kevin’s Famous Chili Recipe as listed by Peacock
- 4 dried ancho chilies
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil)
- 3 pounds ground beef (80/20 or 85/15 lean)
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 12 oz. Bottles of beer (lager or pale ale)
- 3 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 ½ cups chopped ripe tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Chopped green onions, shredded jack cheese and sour cream for topping
– Tear up ancho chiles and discard seeds and stems. In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, toast the chiles over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Place the roasted ancho chiles in a food processor or spice grinder and grind very finely. Put aside.
– Add oil to the saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally to break up beef into small pieces, until well browned (about 6 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.
– Add the onion to the saucepan and briefly cook over medium-high heat until barely tender, about 2 minutes. The secret is to undercook the onions.
– Using a garlic press, press the garlic directly into the pot, 1 clove at a time. Then stir in the jalapeños, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, and tomato paste. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add beer and continue cooking, stirring and scraping pan, about 7 minutes.
– Meanwhile, place beans in a large bowl and mash briefly with a potato masher until chopped but not completely mashed.
– Add the bean puree, broth, tomatoes, salt and cooked beef to the pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, continue to simmer and cook for 2 hours to let everything in the pot get to know each other. Remove from heat, cover and let stand at least 1 hour (can also be refrigerated for 8 hours or overnight).
– Heat gently, taste and add more salt if needed and serve with your favorite toppings. We recommend chopped green onions, shredded jack cheese and sour cream.