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The Best Chili Recipe

Our family’s favorite chili recipe! It’s hearty, packed with meat and beans and topped with sour cream and cheese. Plus – it makes amazing leftovers and freezes beautifully!

What is Chili?

That’s the beauty of chili. There is really no true true definition of chili beyond a thick meat sauce usually with peppers. There are so many ways to make chili. Many argue that beans and even tomatoes have no place in chili, and if you are in that camp, feel free to leave them out of this recipe. Personally, beans and tomatoes are a staple in my chili. It gives the dish more depth and while I don’t load my chili with heat, I do enjoy a nice flavor profile with a hint of heat.

I have so many different ways that I make my chili. Depending on what I have on hand, I might add black beans, corn, peppers, etc. This recipe, however, is my base. This recipe has won me a few chili cook-offs. I build it based off the mood I’m in. It’s also not a true bowl of chili for me without rice. It’s how my mom always made it and it’s what brings me comfort. I’ll also never eat my chili without some shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. But, if you like to enjoy your chili with different toppings or serve it over something else or alone, you do you. I love the versatility that chili allows.

Ingredients

Ground beef – I typically always use an 85% lean 15% fat blend of beef. The beef tends to not dry out and remains more tender. Just drain off the fat after cooking and you’ll be set!
Onion – yellow or white works best here
Garlic cloves – Fresh minced garlic works best, but pre-minced is a perfect alternative
Tomato paste
Beef stock – you can also use chicken stock if you have it on hand, but i prefer the deeper flavor beef stock gives to this chili recipe
Worcestershire sauce – how do you say it?!
Chili powder
Dried Oregano
Ground Cumin
Kosher salt
Smoked Paprika
Ground Black pepper
Cayenne pepper – for that extra kick of heat
Rotel Chili Fixins’ (or fire roasted diced tomatoes)
Light Red Kidney Beans – you can sub black beans, pinto beans, etc
Chili Beans – choose whatever intensity of heat you and your family prefer

Suggested Toppings
Shredded Cheese, for topping
Sour cream, for topping
Cilantro, for topping
Slice jalapeños, for topping

How to make this Award Winning Chili

NOTE: The standard recipe takes 2 hours to cook. However, if you are in a hurry, this can be done in 30 minutes. It just won’t have the time to allow the flavors to fully develop.

  • My biggest tip: Season ground beef with about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper BEFORE cooking it. This allows the meat to absorb the seasoning.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot (like a Dutch Oven), add ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until browned
  • Next, drain all but 1-2 tablespoons of fat off the ground beef and discard. I typically line a small bowl with aluminum foil and pour the grease in and allow to cool, then throw out. Do not discard grease down your sink drain!
  • Add the grease back to the pot and reheat, then add the diced onions and cook until translucent (approx. 3 minutes)
  • Then, add the garlic and stir. Allow to cook for 1 minute until you smell that delicious garlic!
  • Pour the cooked ground beef back into the pot and quickly stir
  • Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to combine – cooking for another minute until the tomato paste coats the beef/onion mixture
  • Next, add the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce
  • Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, kosher salt, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using) to the pot and mix well
  • Add can of Rotel Chili Fixins’ (or a can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes) to the pot
  • Bring pot to a soft boil, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes
  • Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 90 minutes – stirring occasionally
  • Then, add the beans to the pot and cook for 30 minutes more – do not add beans before this as they will begin to get mushy
  • Serve over rice (or however you like your chili best) and top with your desired toppings – we love shredded cheese, sour cream a bit of cilantro and if we’re feeling spicy – sliced jalapeños. But, chose whatever your family loves most!

What is the best meat to use?

There are a ton of options for the best meat to use for Chili. I have used them all!

  • Ground Beef – I love using a 85/15 blend. It’s the least expensive and quickest option here
  • Beef Chuck – I would use this when you plan on cooking for the full 2 hours. It is a tougher cut of meat but becomes very tender after being braised in the liquid for 2 hours.
  • Brisket – Another meat that needs time to braise. Cut into cubes and after a couple of hours braising, the brisket will shred beautifully.
  • Short Ribs – Y’all know how how much I love short ribs. Another meat that needs to braise in order to break down. Short ribs really transform this chili into a luxe elevated dish!
  • Ground Turkey – By far the driest meat suggested – but a good alternative for those watching their red meat intake.

One meat that I wouldn’t recommend is chicken. Chicken is better for a White Chili.

Crock Pot Chili

Brown the ground beef on the stove over medium heat and drain off the fat – saving a couple tablespoons to cook the onions and garlic. Next, sauté the onion for approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Then, add garlic and sauté for another minute until fragrant.

Add all other ingredients (except beans) to the slow cooker, then incorporate the meat, onions, and garlic to the mixture. Mix well. Cook on low for approximately 6 hours. Add the beans and allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes before serving.

Instant Pot Chili

Making this chili recipe in the Instant Pot is really simple and takes just a few minutes of prep time.

First, set your Instant Pot to sauté and brown your beef. Drain off excess fat (saving a couple of tablespoons). Sauté then onion in the leftover grease for about 3 minutes. Next add the garlic and sauté for anther minute until fragrant. Add all of the other ingredients, including the browned beef, to the pot and combine well. Attach the lid and close the vent. Choose the Chili OR Beans setting and cook for 20 minutes. Once done coking, you can either allow the Instant Pot to naturally pressure release or quick release – depending on your time crunch!

How to Freeze Chili

Allow chili to cool completely. If you have a vacuum sealer, I recommend this first as it will allow your chili to last longer! If you don’t, no biggie, fill a freezer bag about 3/4 of the way full squeezing out the remaining air and pressing package flat for easier storage and better defrosting. Your chili will keep in the freezer for 4-6 months.

If keeping this homemade chili in the fridge, it will keep for 3-4 days.

What to serve with Chili?

Here are a few of my favorite side to serve with this Chili:

  • Cornbread – Enough Said.
  • Nachos
  • Biscuits
  • Crackers – Who doesn’t love to crumble up some crackers over their chili?!
  • Baked Potatoes – Stuff your baked potatoes with this Chili – SO GOOD!
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – talk about a total comfort food meal!
  • Over Rice – My favorite.
  • With Pasta – Elbow Macaroni is a great fit!

Looking for more cozy meals?

White bowl of chili topped with jalapeños

The Best Chili Recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Our family's favorite chili recipe! It's hearty, packed with meat and beans and topped with sour cream and cheese. Plus - it's done in 30 minutes... and makes amazing leftovers!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Ground beef (85/15 blend - season with 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cups Beef stock (or Chicken Stock)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Oregano, Dried
  • 2 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Paprika, Smoked
  • 1 tsp Black pepper, ground
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Rotel Chili Fixins’ or 1 (15 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 (15 oz) can Light Red Kidney Beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 (15 oz) can Chili Beans (choose level of heat to your liking) (undrained)
  • Cheese, for topping
  • Sour cream, for topping
  • Cilantro, for topping
  • Slice jalapeños, for topping

Instructions

  1. Season ground beef with about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  2. In a heavy bottomed pot, add ground beef and cook over medium-high until browned
  3. Next, drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat off the ground beef
  4. Add the tablespoon of fat back to the pot, then add the diced onions and cook until translucent (approx. 3 minutes)
  5. Then, add the garlic and stir. Allow to cook for 1 minute
  6. Pour the cooked ground beef back into the pot
  7. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to combine - cooking for another minute
  8. Next, add the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce
  9. Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, kosher salt, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using) to the pot
  10. Add can of Rotel Chili Fixins' (or a can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes) to the pot
  11. Bring pot to a soft boil, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes
  12. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 90 minutes - stirring occasionally
  13. Then, add the beans to the pot and cook for 30 minutes more
  14. Serve over rice and top with your desired toppings - we love shredded cheese, sour cream a bit of cilantro and if we're feeling spicy - sliced jalapeños. But, chose whatever your family loves most!

Notes

  • This recipe makes a thicker chili. If you are looking for a thinner more soupy chili, add up to an extra 1/2 cup of beef broth at the end of cooking, so you have better control over the amount of liquid.
  • In a hurry?! This chili can be done in 30 minutes. However, allowing the chili to slowly simmer for 2 hours allows the flavors to develop for a fuller more complex flavor

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 506Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 1515mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 42g

The nutritional values above are auto calculated by a nutrition program and can vary based on brands of ingredients used.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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26 Comments

  • Rosemary
    September 29, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Yum, I’m loving your tip about seasoning the beef before cooking. Chili is a household favorite as well and perfect for the upcoming cooler months,

    Reply
  • Amanda
    September 29, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    Love this chili and the jalapenos sets it off!

    Reply
    • Kerri
      September 29, 2020 at 6:12 pm

      thank you!

      Reply
  • Sara Welch
    September 29, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    This is my kind of comfort food and great for cooler evenings! Excited to warm up with this for dinner tonight!

    Reply
  • Andrea Metlika
    September 29, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    This chili looks and sounds fantastic! Thanks for the tip on the salt and pepper before cooking. I think I’ll try that with other recipes too.

    Reply
  • Chichi Uguru
    September 29, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    This chili looks so inviting. I know it will taste so good. Can’t wait to make it. Between I love your Bowls.

    Reply
  • Alison
    September 29, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    This recipe is chunky and full of such goodness! It’s getting to be that time of year when simple chili recipes are just the thing to warm you up!

    Reply
  • Emily
    September 29, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    I’ve only had a dutch oven for a year or so and I love what a difference it makes in recipes like this. This chili recipe really is the best!!

    Reply
  • Patricia @ Grab a Plate
    September 29, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Your chili is loaded with some serious, flavorful goodness! Love this for a weekend TV fest!

    Reply
  • Catalina
    September 30, 2020 at 5:35 am

    My family loves chili so much! I will try your recipe next time!

    Reply
  • Beth
    September 30, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Yummy! My family and I love chili this time of year! So delicious and yummy! Can’t wait to give this recipe a try!

    Reply
  • Toni Dash
    September 30, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    It was a huge hit with my family! A staple meal for fall nights!

    Reply
  • Cathy
    September 30, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Love how meaty this is!

    Reply
  • Amy Liu Dong
    October 1, 2020 at 1:08 am

    Wow, this looks really delicious and such a perfect recipe to make for this cool weather. YUM!

    Reply
  • Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer
    October 1, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    Oh this looks perfect for the cooler evenings we’re having now! And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the different substitutions you have. Loving your idea of adding short ribs! Thank you so much for sharing such a perfect comfort food!

    Reply
  • Eileen Kelly
    October 4, 2020 at 1:36 am

    We made this chili today and made enough for tomorrow’s football day/ It is delicious and we cannot wait to have it again tomorrow.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      October 4, 2020 at 9:02 am

      leftovers are the best! so glad you enjoyed!

      Reply
  • Mama Maggie's Kitchen
    October 4, 2020 at 3:22 am

    This looks insanely, incredibly good. Sooo yummy! My husband will surely love this recipe.

    Reply
  • Erin
    October 4, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Some say no beans in chili? Really?! I’m no chili expert but I had no idea! I think yours looks amazing. I can see why you call it the best!

    Reply
  • Alex
    October 4, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Normally chili doesn’t look very appetizing but yours look really delicious! Perfect for the cooler days we’ve been having.

    Reply
  • Aleta
    October 4, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    When it comes to comfort food, Chili is IT for me. I could eat it every single day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it. I love the spices you’ve chosen for your recipe and especially adding cilantro! Such a great idea.

    Reply
  • Sam
    October 4, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Yum!! This chili looks so cozy and comforting. Just what I was looking for in this cooler weather. Love the flavours in there.

    Reply
  • Gunjan
    October 4, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    So comforting and perfectly seasoned. We loved this and will definitely make it again.

    Reply
  • Daniela
    October 5, 2020 at 2:28 am

    Your chili looks and sounds so good and its perfect for these cold winter months coming up! Love how hearty it is :)!

    Reply
  • FOODHEAL
    October 9, 2020 at 11:56 pm

    I am on chili these days, I love your recipe, it must be super delicious

    Reply
  • Amanda Marie Boyle
    October 10, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Love chili, especially this time of year. This recipe is so good!

    Reply

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