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The Office: What You Might Not Know About Kevin’s Chili (and the Spill That Became a Permanent Meme)

“The trick is to undercook the onions…  I’m serious about this stuff!”

By Benjamin Bullard

Remember that time on The Office when Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner) got his casual Friday off to a sad, soggy, chili-stained start? If you’ve seen Kevin spill that oversized pot of his prized secret-recipe chili — a hilariously heartbreaking moment from the cold open of the 26th episode of Season 5 (streaming here on Peacock) — you probably fall into one of two well-entrenched fan camps: You either think it’s slapstick funny, or it kinda makes you want to shed an empathetic tear.

How to Watch

Watch every episode of The Office on Peacock.

“Kevin’s Famous Chili” was a labor of love for our favorite underdog accountant on The Office, which makes it all the more shocking (and sloppy) when he takes a dramatic tumble — homemade chili and all — right in the middle of a proud voiceover monologue that describes how hard he’s worked to bring his pot o’ shareable goodness to painstaking, slow-cooked perfection.

What to Know About Kevin's Famous Chili on The Office

Oh, the tragedy! “I’m serious about this stuff,” Kevin says with on-the-nose seriousness, right as he sees his previous night’s kitchen handiwork go splashing all over the floor. “I’m up the night before, pressing garlic and dicing whole tomatoes!”

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Though it’s only 35 seconds long, Kevin’s epic chili spill caught fire with fans as one of the most enduringly meme-able scenes throughout all of The Office’s nine-season run. It’s held such pop-culture staying power that Baumgartner himself has published his own cookbook of curated chili recipes, seen ex-Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers famously pay homage to the moment in a cool commemorative T-shirt, and even had fans offer to buy him a complimentary bowl while out on the town.

“I think at the moment that it was happening — I don’t think, I know — I was totally unaware that I would be talking about chili now,” Baumgartner, who’s even riffed on the scene for a tongue-in-cheek baked beans ad, told TODAY as recently as 2022. Well, people are still talking about it... which brings us to a couple of other fun Kevin spills-the-chili facts from The Office you might not have known.

The Office had three props ready… but Brian Baumgartner nailed it in one (messy) take

Brian Baumgartner on The Office

To prepare for Kevin’s big splash, The Office production team had three pieces of floor-covering carpet (and apparently three takes’ worth of chili) ready to go — just in case the first spill wasn’t up to the show’s standards.

“Obviously it was all about the moment of spill — having that look and feel as realistic as possible, and that it happened in generally the correct place for the cameras to be able to pick it up,” Baumgartner confided in a 2021 episode of the Office Ladies podcast. “So [prop master] Phil Shea came to me, kind of like a secret, like, backchannel meeting, and he says, ‘Alright, just so you know we only have three pieces of carpet. So we can't do any more than that.’”

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Thankfully, though, one spill was all it took for Baumgartner to strike tomato-based comedy paydirt — including spicing the scene up with his own ad-libbing, as Kevin instinctively scrambles to shove the remnants of his mess out of the floor and back into the toppled pot. “Once I was on the ground I got to play a little, and so I just started trying other things,” Baumgartner recalled, adding that it took a while  — “at least 24 hours” — for the smell to subside from his chili-soaked body, despite a thorough shower following the shoot.

Recipe for Kevin’s chili from The Office - which was hidden in Peacock’s user agreement

As Entertainment Weekly reported in 2022, the actual chili that The Office prop team ladled into Kevin’s giant pot was off-the-shelf stuff that simply came from a can (or, more likely, a few dozen cans). But a real recipe for Kevin’s chili does exist — both in Baumgartner’s cookbook (Seriously Good Chili Cookbook: 177 of the Best Recipes in the World), as well as in a funny hidden Peacock Easter egg.

Thanks to an online shout-out from one keen-eyed TikTok user who waded through the 2022 version of the NBCUniversal streamer’s fine print, one of The Office’s most esoteric Easter eggs came to light across the show's fandom, in the process picking up its own news coverage. As luck would have it, TODAY captured the full section of buried text to preserve for hungry posterity (all the better to prep a big pot of chili before sitting down to a marathon Peacock streaming binge of The Office).

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Here’s the text — along with the recipe — so you can recreate those magic chili flavors that Kevin’s Dunder Mifflin colleagues, sadly, never got the chance to savor. But just remember: The secret is to undercook the onions!

At Peacock, we don’t make promises we can’t keep. So, please see below for the chili recipe inspired by Kevin Malone’s legendary family dish, which he so memorably brought to Dunder Mifflin on The Office:


  • 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (vegetable, canola or grapeseed)
  • 3 pounds ground beef (80/20 or 85/15 lean)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 (12-ounce) 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 tablespoons kosher salt
  • chopped scallions, shredded Jack cheese and sour cream, for topping


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add onion to pot and cook briefly over medium-high until barely softened, about 2 minutes. The secret is to undercook the onions.
  4. 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.
  5. Meanwhile, put beans in a large bowl and mash briefly with a potato masher until broken up but not fully mashed.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.

Enjoy! While we wish you could dish us up a bowlful (without spilling it all over our reception area, naturally), feel free to share this recipe (tagging @peacocktv, of course). And now, back to your regularly scheduled legal document.

Kevin’s epic fail is forever enshrined for all to see on Peacock here, where all 9 seasons of The Office (along with seven seasons of superfan episodes!) are now streaming.