Classic Beef Chili

This classic beef chili recipe is extremely easy, requires no fancy ingredients, and cooks up thick and flavorful. It’s perfect for chilly fall nights, and freezes exceptionally well.

A big bowl of classic beef chili topped with shredded cheddar and sour cream.

Okay, it’s September and Labor Day is behind us, so we can 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…

Italian wedding soup.

Spaghetti and meatballs.

Beef stew.


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.

A bowl of beef chili topped with cheddar, sour cream and Fritos.

Most chili recipes are made up of the same basic ingredients: 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!

A big bowl of classic beef chili.

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 Favorite (“Hardcore”) Chili 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!

Next on my chili to-do list: Cincinnati chili. If you have a favorite recipe, share it in the comments below!

Taking a big spoonful of beef chili with cheddar, sour cream, and Fritos.

Crazy For Chili? More Favorite Chili Recipes:

Four years ago: Zia Lena’s Date Bar Cookies
Five years ago: Cinnamon Roll Biscuits

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Classic Beef Chili Recipe

This classic beef 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

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(Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cooking magazine)

All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

This recipe was originally published on January 10, 2013.

Classic Beef Chili :: This classic beef chili recipe is extremely easy, does not require any fancy ingredients, and freezes exceptionally well. Perfect cold-weather comfort food!