The Best Chili Recipe
This easy chili recipe is the best! It requires no fancy ingredients, comes together quickly, is perfect on its own and for hot dogs, nachos and Frito pie. An absolute must-make on chilly fall and winter nights and football game days.
Okay, it’s September and Labor Day is behind us, so can we start talking about fall recipes now? Because I am ITCHING to grab a mug of my favorite hot chocolate, bust out my Dutch oven and churn out some of my favorite cold-weather comfort food favorites. I’m talking about things like…
Spaghetti and meatballs.
A big bowl of piping hot chili topped with shredded cheese and sour cream (and Fritos, if I’m being perfectly honest) is one of my ultimate cold-weather comfort foods. It’s something that I’ve loved since I was a kid, and I still can’t get enough of it. As you can probably tell based on how many chili recipes there are on this site, I can’t resist trying new chili recipes when I come across them. While I’ve tried quite a few classic-style beef chili recipes, I still hadn’t managed to fine “the one” until a few years ago. Once I made this recipe, the search was officially over; it is, hands-down, the best chili recipe I’ve ever made. It is worthy of lamination and a permanent home in any recipe collection.
So, How Do You Make the Best Chili?
Most homemade chili recipes are made up of the same basic ingredients: ground beef, onion, spices, beans and some type of tomato product. The differences usually reside in the quantities used, how the dish is cooked, and for how long.
This recipe strikes the perfect balance of textures, flavors and spice; the resulting chili is thick and tender, not soupy, and a phenomenal blend of flavors.
I urge you not to rush the cooking process. The wait is definitely worth it!
Chili Recipe FAQ
A couple of the most common questions I receive about this recipe:
- Can you make this in the crock pot? You can, although the texture may not turn out exactly the same. I would recommend completing the recipe through most of step #2, and instead of simmering on the stove, transfer to a crock pot and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. When cooking on the stovetop, that last step of removing the lid and simmering for 45 minutes really gives the chili its thick texture. You may want to make sure you leave the lid ajar and cook on high for an hour if you’re using a crock pot to try to mimic the texture.
- Can you make this without beans? Yes! I love them, but there are many chili recipes out there that don’t use them (I’m looking at you, Texas!) and you can easily omit them from this recipe without an issue.
- Can I use different beans? I think kidney beans are the best since they’re heart and stand up well to the cooking and other ingredients. You could substitute black beans or pinto beans, but white beans will break down too much.
I know that I’ll likely get asked which of the chili recipes I’ve shared on the site to date is my favorite. If you’re looking for an easy, classic beef chili recipe, this one is a must-make. It’s my favorite of the bunch, and it also freezes really well. That being said, I also really love the chili con carne recipe. It’s quite a different recipe, with varying flavors and textures, so if you want to try a chili recipe with a unique flair, I highly recommend that one.
If you crave warm bowls of comfort food during the fall and winter months, this chili has your name all over it! Eat it in a bowl with your favorite toppings or spoon it over hot dogs, nachos, or build a Frito pie!
If You Like This Chili Recipe, Try These:
Classic Chili Recipe
This classic chili recipe is extremely easy, does not require any fancy ingredients, and freezes exceptionally well. Perfect cold-weather comfort food!
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
- ¼ cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 pounds ground beef (85-90% lean)
- 2 (15-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until it is shimmering. Add the onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the beef and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes (with their juice), tomato puree and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat so it maintains a slow simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue to simmer for an additional 45 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste before serving. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, if desired. Leftover chili can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The chili can also be frozen for up to 1 month (let the chili thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours before reheating).
- To make in the slow cooker, prepare through step #2 up until simmering, then transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Leave the lid ajar and cook on high for the final hour of cooking to allow the chili to thicken.
- You can omit the beans if you choose.
This recipe was originally published in January 2013. It was updated in September 2017 with new photos and refreshed in September 2018 with additional recipe notes.