Classic beef chili is a super easy one-pot dinner. A warm bowl of homemade chili is perfect when topped with sour cream, onions, and plenty of shredded cheddar cheese. Serve this with your favorite tortilla chips.
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My family is a big fan of spicy food. Chili is on the top of that list.
I was practically weaned on Tabasco sauce. I remember my dad eating it on everything! I'm not sure my mom appreciated it. She might have even taken offense to it.
Soup and stew recipes are probably one of my favorite things to make. Not only are they delicious, they allow you to make a batch that can either be eaten all week long or frozen to pull out for another week.
Chili is like the original meal prep recipe. It has lots of protein and healthy veggies.
What You'll Love About This Chili Recipe
- Hearty. This chili recipe is hearty and has tons of flavor.
- Chile con Carne. Chili can be made with all meat or you can make this recipe with meat and beans.
- Make ahead. It's so easy to make a huge pot of chili ahead of time. You can warm it up any time for a healthy filling meal.
- One-Pot Meal. Chili is the original one-pot meal.
Chili is an easy one pot recipe that can be made on the stovetop, in and Instant Pot and even in a Slow cooker. It's so versatile, filling, and it freezes beautifully.
- Meat. I like to use either coarse ground beef or diced chuck roast.
- Beans. Beans are completely optional with this chili recipe. Try using pinto beans, black beans, red kidney, or a combination of these.
- Tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are just fine here. I like to have chunky tomatoes in my chili so I opt for whole stewed tomatoes. For smoother chili, you can use diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes.
- Peppers and Onions. This recipe calls for peppers and onions. If you want spicier chili opt for using more of the spicier chilies.
- Spices. Chili flavor comes from all the spices. Chili powder, cayenne, oregano, garlic, and onion powder.
- Cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is the secret ingredient in my chili recipe. Cocoa gives this recipe a balanced flavor that is similar to a Mexican mole.
FAQS and Variations
Yes, you can make chili without beans. Chili with no beans is usually called Texas Chili or Chili Con Carne. I'm a huge fan!
You can even make this recipe with and leave out the beans if you prefer to have a no bean chili.
Coarse Ground Beef — ground beef cooks quickly so you won't have to simmer your chili for a long time to get the meat tender. I like to use coarsely ground beef. You can usually find this in the meat counter. If you don't see it, you can ask your butcher if you can get some coarse ground chuck.
Chuck Roast — On the stovetop, chuck will take about 90 minutes of simmering to get nice and tender. Chuck is the cut of meat that is most often used in a classic chili con carne.
Brisket and Short Ribs are other options that will also work well in chili. Again these cuts of meat require a longer simmering time, but they are super flavorful.
Chili sauce is the foundation of the best chili recipes. No matter what kind of chili you are making, there is no argument that the chili sauce needs to be fantastic. Chili is a classic, comfort food recipe. Once you learn how to make a delicious chili sauce, then you can make this chili in three different ways, with just a few modifications.
Classic Beef and Bean Chili (AKA 5 Alarm Chili)– make the recipe as is.
Chili Recipe No Beans - follow the recipe as is but leave out the beans.
Vegetarian Chili – Follow the recipe as is but skip the meat.
The chili sauce in this recipe is the perfect blend of crushed tomatoes, fresh peppers, and spices. I like a spicy chili recipe. You can reduce the amount of cayenne if you want to keep your chili milder.
Depending on what kind of meat you are using, a pot of chili can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.
Ground beef will cook the fastest. You can have a pot of chili on the table in 30 minutes or less.
Other beef cuts like chuck will take at least 90 minutes to get tender. Brisket and short ribs will take even longer than that. You can speed this process up by making your chili in an Instant Pot.
Chili will last for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Make sure to bring it to a boil when you reheat it. If you want to keep it longer, you can freeze it.
I like to freeze chili in individual serving size portions. Having individual portions makes it super easy for anyone in the family to take one out of the freezer and reheat it. These are the containers I use.
My second favorite way to freeze chili is to fill a large freezer bag about halfway full. Seal and lie flat. PRO-TIP: Seal the zip top closer 80 percent closed. The press the air out of the freezer bag before you lie it flat. This method is an excellent space-saving method if you have a drawer in your freezer.
To reheat chili from the refrigerator:
Remove it from the fridge, place in a saucepan.
Heat on medium heat until it is bubbling, Approximately 5 minutes.
Make sure you stir the chili frequently to prevent it from burning on the bottom.
To reheat chili from the freezer:
Remove the container of chili from the freezer.
Set it in the sink, or on a towel for 10 minutes to thaw slightly. (It will sweat as it thaws)
To speed up the thawing process, you can place the sealed container is a bowl of warm water. The container does not have to be completely submerged.
Place the thawed chili into a saucepan. The chili can still be partially frozen.
Heat on medium until it is bubbling, Approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
Make sure you stir the chili frequently to prevent it from burning on the bottom.
Alternatively, you can microwave the chili for 3 to 4 minutes on high.
Microwave temperatures vary so make sure you check yours.
Ways to cook chili
I most often make my chili in my favorite Staub dutch oven. If you aren't ready to shell out the money for a Staub I recommend the 6 quart Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven. Lodge is a solid brand that really knows what it's doing when it comes to cast iron cookware.
Instant Pot Chili
- Use the sauté setting, on high to brown the meat, then add the onions and other veggies. Sauté for a few more minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the remaining ingredients and set to high pressure.
- Cook for 20 minutes if you are using ground beef.
- Cook for 35 minutes if you are using cubed chuck.
Slow Cooker Chili
Many people wonder if you have to brown the meat before you add it to a slow cooker. The answer is YES! You should always brown meat before you add it to your slow cooker. Browning the meat gives you a much better flavor.
Brown the meat in a sauté pan. Add the onions and other veggies and continue to sauté until they are tender. Add the beef and vegetables to your slow cooker with the remaining ingredients — cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
Chili is the perfect One Pot meal to make for meal prep.
This beef chili recipe is high in protein and low in calories. Chili is great for meal prep because you make a large batch of it. It is easy to pack in reheatable containers and store in the fridge. Chili also freezes well.
Chili with corn chips! Crunchy saucy bliss!
What to serve with The World's Best Chili.
Serve spicy chili with tortilla chips or corn chips. Or you can serve this with fluffy cornbread.
I grew up eating chili on a big bowl of white rice, so that is another option.
Other comfort food recipes:
- Chili Verde
- Easy Turkey Soup
- Vegetable Soup with Lentils and Wild Rice
- Vegan Lentil and Farro Stew
- Pumpkin Spice Soup
- Homemade Noodles with Broth
- Spicy Chorizo Soup
- Italian Pork Ragu
- Guinness Braised Short Ribs
- Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
- Tomato, Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia
5 Alarm Firehouse Chili
- 1 Red bell pepper finely diced
- 1 White onion finely diced
- 2 Anaheim peppers finely diced
- 1 Pasilla pepper finely diced
- 2 Serrano peppers finely diced
- 2 Jalapeño peppers finely diced
- 5 cloves Garlic minced
- 3 tbsp Chili powder
- 26 oz Strained tomatoes
- 26 oz Chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Tomato paste
- 30 oz Kidney beans Optional
- 15 oz Black beans Optional
- Heat the oil in a large stew pot or dutch oven.
- Add the beef to the pan, add salt and pepper and toss well.
- Brown well.
- Add the onions to the pan, sauté until golden in color.
- Add the peppers, continue to sauté for 3-5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.
- Add the garlic. Sauté for a few minutes.
- Add the chili powder and toss to coat.
- Add the tomato paste and toss to coat. Sauté to slightly caramelize the tomato paste.
- Add the tomatoes and bay leaves.
- Add the taco seasoning, sugar, and cocoa powder.
- Bring everything to a boil and then reduce chili to a simmer. Simmer for at least an hour. (Note: if you are using chuck roast you should simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat is very tender.
- Add the beans and simmer for another 20 minutes or so.
- Remove bay leaves before serving.
- sour cream
- chopped white onions and/or green onions
Laura's Tips + Notes
Foodology Geek Taco Seasoning MixAdjust the amount of cayenne pepper in the recipe to make it more or less spicy. Makes about ½ a cup. 5 tbsp chili powder
3 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp cumin
2 tbsp dried oregano
4 tsp onion powder
4 tsp coriander
4 tsp paprika
2-6 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper You can find my other spice mixes in this handy download.