Thick and Hearty Chili


Although it’s been rather spring-like here lately (oddly enough, it doesn’t quite feel fall-like), the bare trees and leaves littering the grass had me in the mood for a warm bowl of chili. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with chili. I love, love, love to eat it. But I hate trying to find recipes that I like. I never seem to find anything that knocks my socks off, and after doing another round of searching I finally decided to go with my gut and created my own recipe based on what I know I like and don’t like. I suppose that technically this would be considered Chili con Carne with beans (although chili powder is used in place of actual chili peppers). I love beans in my chili, so that’s a staple, and I really like the texture to be thick and hearty. If a spoonful can sit on top of a piece of bread without running off, then it’s a winner. I think I finally put together a  recipe that incorporates all of my favorite aspects of chili; it has earned a permanent place in my recipe book, and I will certainly be making it again and again.

Like most soups and stews, chili tastes the best when it is cooked low and slow for a few hours, so the flavors really have an opportunity to meld together and intensify. One of the things that I have always had a problem with regarding chili was getting it to thicken up nicely, and I have finally found the solution. I remembered reading that cornmeal can be used as a thickening agent (after all, it does make a mean polenta!), so I added it to this chili and it made all the difference!

Thick and Hearty Chili

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes


3 lbs. ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups beef stock
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup cornmeal


1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic over medium heat. Once browned, remove any extra liquid in the pot and return the beef to the pot.

2. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, beans, seasonings and cornmeal, stirring well. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours.


51 Responses to “Thick and Hearty Chili”

  1. Liz Brooks on November 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Love thick chili!


  2. themilkmanswife on November 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    This looks SO good. I’m with you, I like chili nice and thick. This looks perfect. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  3. shelly (cookies and cups) on November 17, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    oooh this looks and sounds good. I have the same issue with chili, nothing ever is crazy good enough. I will try this one for sure, but I will add corn to mine…love the crunch! Thanks!


  4. marina mott on November 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Looks wonderfull!!


  5. Martica on November 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Looks delicious! This is one of those meals I cook yearlong regardless of the weather…I live in sunny south Florida.


  6. Noelle on November 17, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Great picture! Yumm!


  7. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite on November 17, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    An amazing looking chili!


  8. Drick on November 17, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    love the photo…it really is thick and delicious looking…like the added cornmeal as a thickener…I use mesa with mine…this is really a great recipe…


  9. The Klutzy Cook on November 17, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    I love beans in my chilli too! Good tip on the cornmeal. Thanks


  10. Danielle on November 17, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    this reminds me that it’s been a while since I made chili. Just waiting for it to cool off a liiiiiittle more. Your chili looks great


  11. Amanda on November 18, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Looks fabulous! I’m the same way, needs to be nice and thick. I have been making a homemade chili seasoning for many years now. I make several at a time and store them in zipper bags, then wrap them all in foil and keep them in the cabinet. That way I an just throw in my canned tomatoes, browned beef and kidney beans along with the seasoning. So fast 🙂


  12. Sarah, Maison Cupcake on November 18, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I don’t believe it. A “pretty” chilli! It looks so delicate in your photo, the colours of the red onion and cheese look like it is garnished with petals at first glance. It looks really tasty, just the job for cold weather.


  13. Brad on November 18, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    The best thing about making chili is that you can add just about anything, I usually substitute green beans for kidney beans.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe.


  14. Carrie @ Deliciously Organic on November 19, 2009 at 8:19 am

    This looks amazing! I love the addition of the cornmeal at the end. Congrats on top 9 today!


  15. lululu on November 19, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    lovely picture for a hearty dish!


  16. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on November 19, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Yum… I love chili. Yours looks wonderful!


  17. Miranda on November 19, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    There is nothing better then a GREAT chili on a cold cold day! Another great post!!


  18. nicole on November 22, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I love your pictures!


  19. Nastassia Johnson on November 23, 2009 at 1:53 am

    Cornmeal as a thickener…I’m going to have to give that a try! The chili looks fantastic!


  20. Laura on December 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I LOVE chili. This looks a bit similar to my husband’s chili, but he doesn’t add cornmeal. I’m intrigued!


  21. lola on January 5, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    I just made this chili tonight — DELICIOUS.


  22. RebeccaS on January 9, 2010 at 1:08 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! As easy as it is delicious! Made it a month or so ago…and doing it again tomorrow! Thank you for sharing 🙂


  23. susan s on August 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I was craving those Corn and Pepper Muffins you posted a couple weeks ago, and made the chili in the middle of summer to go with it…. OMG, best chili and corn muffins ever. Thank you so much. I love your site and am cooking from it at least twice a week….


  24. JohnF on September 25, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Great recipe, even though I messed it up a bit. I bought the wrong bean cans, and ended up putting in two cans kidney beans instead of the three cans listed in the recipe. However, my family, including 8 and 10 year old girls just devoured it and immediately went for seconds.

    I think my error might have produced a chili that would work particularly well on hot dogs. I’ll have to give that a try. 🙂


    • Michelle on September 28th, 2010 at 7:06 pm

      John – Yum for chili dogs! I’m glad your clan dug it even though you used a different combo of beans. Love chili in the fall!


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  26. Surabhi Shrivastava on July 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    This looks really great! Since I don’t eat beef though, can you recommend what other meat this might work well with these ingredients? Perhaps lamb or chicken with chicken broth?


    • Michelle on July 11th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      I’ve never used ground chicken or lamb, but for sure ground turkey would be a good substitute.


  27. Mondo on September 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    if your chili taste as good as it looks…oh my lord!


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  29. meredith on October 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I love chili, but I hate beans. what would you recommend so I can make this fabulous recipe?


    • Michelle on October 18th, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      Hi Meredith, If you hate beans, I would just leave them out. It’ll still taste great!


  30. Holly (2 Kids and Tired) on October 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Michelle, So between this one and your “Chili… On a Chilly Fall Day”, which one do you think is better? Both sound really good.


    • Michelle on October 20th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Hi Holly, I definitely prefer this version. Enjoy!


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  34. Yvette on October 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I absolutely love this recipe and my 2 year old daughter is addicted to it. I find I’m making chili more and more often now. Since I am also watching my calorie intake I was wondering if you have nutritional information for this recipe… thank you 🙂


  35. Jayme on October 31, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Made this tonight and my husband loved it!!!


  36. Amrita on December 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    This has been my go-to chili recipe for my family for the last 3 years. My picky daughter even asks me to make this! I cook the beef on the stove but throw all the other ingredients in a crock pot for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low (depending on how much time I have in the day to prep) . The next day the flavors are even better! I also add 1 can of corn to it. My husband loves this.


  37. Myranda on July 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    This is EXACTLY what I have been looking for. This is fantastic, perfect for eating with a baked potato. Thank you so much for the recipe!!!


  38. George on September 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm


    I love chili, but I have a problem with liking it too hot for the rest of the family. This should be fine for the family since there aren’t any extra fresh hot peppers. I have always used a lean pork roast for meat. Dice it to about the size of your pinky finger tip and it will really make it tasty. I also add a bit of Chocolate to smooth out the bitter from the Jalapeño and Habanero peppers. It goes great with a Jalapeño corn bread. I will have to make a batch for the family and spice it a little extra for myself.


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  41. Andrea on February 16, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I know you posted this a while ago but I just wanted to tell you that this recipe is AMAZING!! I’ve made it at least ten times already. Thanks for posting 🙂


  42. Nicole on February 21, 2014 at 11:45 am

    This looks so delicious! Have you ever tried to make this in a slow cooker? Do you think this recipe would work the same way or would I need to make modifications?

    I have never been disappointed in any of your recipes. My go-to site for every meal!


    • Michelle on February 21st, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      Hi Nicole, I have not tried making this in a slow cooker, but I think you could without an issue. I would brown the meat before putting it in the slow cooker.


  43. Kenny on March 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Making this chili right now….simmering on the stove as I write this. The aroma is making my mouth water. For the chili powder, I bought whole dried New Mexican chili peppers which I ground up in the food processor. Woke up this morning craving some really good, thick chili and I’m pretty sure this recipe is going to satisfy my craving. Thanks!!


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  45. Jodi P on October 28, 2015 at 7:19 am

    I made this chili last night, my husband said it was the best chili he has ever had! I paired it with your cornbread muffins from last week – also delish!! It was a dinner win for me last night 🙂 Thanks for all of the awesome recipes.


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