This simple and easy chili recipe can be made in one pot in a little over half an hour and with only a handful of pantry staple ingredients.
Chili recipes can be a little intense and intimidating sometimes. It took me forever to start making chili at home because it seemed like all of the BEST MOST AUTHENTIC CHILI RECIPES EVER had just crazy long ingredient lists or cooking times.
And then I realized that as great and aspirational as those recipe are, not every chili recipe has to be the BEST MOST AUTHENTIC CHILI RECIPE EVER.
Sometimes chili recipes can just be really good and really easy. And that’s this recipe.
This chili is thick and beefy with tons of flavor and texture. It’s good enough to serve on its own with just a dollop of sour cream and a little cheese, but fast enough to make for topping burgers, hot dogs, or baked potatoes. It’s a handy (and delicious) little recipe that you’ll be glad to have in your arsenal.
- Ground beef: I like to use 85% lean beef for chili, but use whatever you have on hand or is on sale. If using fattier beef and there is a ton of fat in your pot after browning the meat, you can drain it out or use a clean paper towel to absorb some of the grease.
- Tomato paste: Tomato paste helps add depth of flavor to the chili. This recipe won’t use a full can. Check out my post What to Do With Leftover Tomato Paste for storage tips and recipe ideas for the leftovers.
- Beans: This recipe calls for 2 15-ounce cans of beans. I like a mix of pinto and kidney beans, but use whatever beans you prefer. Be sure to drain and rinse all the starchy liquid from the beans before adding them to the chili.
- Beef broth: If you don’t have beef broth, go ahead and substitute chicken broth or water. It helps add a bit of flavor to the chili but is not essential.
How to Make Homemade Chili
1. Prep all your ingredients before starting the chili. Open cans, drain beans, line up your spices, etc. Things move fast once you get going, and your cooking experience will be much more pleasant if everything is prepped and ready to go before starting.
2. In a large pot, cook diced onion in olive oil until softened.
3. Add the ground beef and salt and brown the beef. If there is more than about a tablespoon of fat in your pot after browning the meat, you can drain the beef or use a paper towel to absorb some of the grease.
4. Add garlic, tomato paste, and spices and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to give the flavors a chance to bloom before adding the liquid ingredients.
5. Stir in the remain ingredients and bring everything to a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the chili has thickened.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!
This chili is easily customizable. Try adding/swapping:
- Meat: You can replace the beef with the ground meat of your choice. Ground chicken and turkey are both excellent options for a lighter chili.
- Peppers/veggies: Like your chili with more veggies? Add chopped up peppers or veggies such as corn or zucchini to the ground beef just after browning, before adding the spices.
Chili gets even better when you add toppings. Some favorites are:
- Sour cream
- Chopped avocado
- Fritos/tortilla chips
- Green onions/chives
Can I make this in advance?
Yes! Chili is one of those foods that gets better the longer it sits. Make it up to 2 days in advance and store covered in the refrigerator.
Can I freeze chili?
This chili freezes really well. Freeze flat in a freezer bag either all together or in individual servings. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
What to serve with chili?
Serve the chili on its own in a bowl with toppings or:
- Pile over hamburgers and make chili burgers
- Top hot dogs for chili dogs
- Serve over Fritos with cheese and make Frito boats
- Use it over baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes for chili baked potatoes
For side dishes, serve simple roasted vegetables along with the chili, like roasted zucchini or asparagus. I also LOVE serving chili over roasted sweet potato chunks and stirring them into the chili.
More Easy Comfort Food Recipes
Easy Chili Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow or white onion diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (66g) tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 14-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup beef broth
- Sour cream optional
- Shredded cheese optional
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Once hot add onion and cook until onions just begin to turn translucent around the edges, about 5 minutes.
- Add ground beef and salt, and cook, stirring often, until beef is browned. If the beef released an excessive amount of fat (more than a tablespoon or two), you can drain the meat or use a paper towel to absorb some of the grease
- Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and spices, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic.
- Stir in tomatoes (with their juices), beans, and broth. Bring to a simmer and simmer the chili uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and chili has thickened.
- Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon into bowls, top with sour cream and cheese if desired, and enjoy!
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