An easy recipe for delicious Beef Chili, just like mom used to make. It's perfect as-is or customize it with your favorite ingredients. Either way, you'll want seconds on the next chilly day!
When the weather starts to turn and the air is a little more crisp, making a big pot of chili is a no-brainer. It's great when you have a lot of mouths to feed or you want to send a meal to someone you love.
This recipe can be made on the stove, Instant Pot, or in the crockpot; instructions for what you’re looking for are below. Plus, like every award-winning beef chili recipe, I've got loads of ways you can customize your chili so it's exactly what you want.
Making a double or triple batch of Beef Chili for tailgating? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Beef Chili Ingredients:
- Onions and peppers. You could also add celery or even carrot here.
- Spices: My homemade chili seasoning has chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, and chipotle chili powder (or cayenne) for heat.
- Fresh garlic.
- Ground beef. Use a leaner cut if you don't want to drain the fat (or keep the fat, it's yummy!)
- Kidney beans. Not a deal breaker though. You can use any bean you want!
- Canned tomatoes. I like the fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies. You could also use regular diced tomatoes and add a 4-ounce can of green chilies.
- Tomato puree. This makes it nice and thick.
- All the toppings: Sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, corn chips, scallions, oyster crackers, all of it!
How to make Beef Chili:
These instructions walk you through the basics of chili making without giving you specific ingredient quantities, which are all listed below in the recipe card.
- First find a Dutch oven or a large stock pot, especially if you’ll be making extra chili to freeze. (By the way, it freezes beautifully. Freeze it in smaller portions to reheat when you’re hungry.)
- Next, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, cayenne (omit if you're my mom or you don't like spicy!), and the salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables soften, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, then add the beef. Break up the larger clumps with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Then add the beans (I drain and rinse, but if you don't, you'll be just fine), tomatoes (undrained), and tomato purée, and bring everything to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes, then cook for 30 minutes longer with the lid off.
- Before you serve the chili, give it a taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Then serve it up in big bowls with all your favorite chili toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and lots of sliced scallions.
How to make Beef Chili in a crockpot:
Slow cooker beef chili, here we come.
- Get the chili started in a Dutch oven by softening the vegetables and browning the meat, following steps one and two in the recipe.
- Then transfer everything to a slow cooker large enough to hold it all, add the tomatoes and beans, and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 7 to 8 hours.
Instant Pot Beef Chili:
The great thing about cooking chili in a pressure cooker is that you do everything in the pot, rather than start off on the stove and finish cooking in a slow cooker.
- Soften the onions and peppers in the pot on the sauté function, then add the spices, beef, and garlic.
- Once the beef is cooked through, add the tomatoes and beans.
- Seal the Instant Pot, turn the pot to the Chili/Bean setting, which takes about 20 minutes. Depending on how quickly you want to eat, you can either release the pressure manually, or wait for the pressure to naturally release over the next 10 to 15 minutes.
- If the chili is too brothy, you can thicken it by letting it cook down with the sauté function for another 10 minutes, until you get the right consistency.
How to make award-winning Beef Chili:
Because this is a straightforward chili recipe that pleases almost everyone, here are some ideas to make your version uniquely yours and worthy of applause.
- Spicy chili. Add dried ancho, chipotle, guajillo, or New Mexican chilies to the pot to bump up the heat, add some sweetness, or make chili a little more complex. Careful - some of these get really spicy!
- Bacon, obviously. A handful of diced bacon or crumbled chorizo cooked with the onions, and add another layer of delicious flavor to the pot. I start with bacon in my favorite Chili Con Carne recipe.
- Beef Chili without beans. Low carb diets usually avoid beans, while some chili lovers insist they don’t belong in a traditional chili. Just add extra meat and some extra veggies.
- Chocolate in chili. Yes, you read that right! A square or two of unsweetened baking chocolate makes a bold, deeply delicious chili. It's a trick I learned from making Cincinnati Chili.
- Beef chili with beer. A can of good beer cooks down and gently flavors your stew. Especially good over open fires with lots of friends.
- Stew meat chili. You can use chunks of beef for a heartier stew, but it might take longer to cook. Dredge the stew meat in salt, pepper, and flour and add to the pot. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until fork tender.
- Super healthy beef chili. Beef up the vegetables. Add celery, red bell pepper, fresh tomatoes, even a little chopped carrot.
- Chili with dried beans. It’s so economical and healthy to use dried beans instead of canned. Cook your beans in unsalted water beforehand, then measure them out and add them to the pot.
Beef Chili Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions chopped
- 1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder optional, or 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 (15.5 ounce) cans kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 2 (10 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles undrained
- 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
- Shredded cheese, sour cream, and scallions for serving, optional
- Heat oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, chipotle chili powder (if using), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until vegetables have softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef and cook, breaking up the clumps with a spoon, until the beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in kidney beans, tomatoes, and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with preferred toppings including cheese, sour cream, and scallions.
- Nutrition information is based on 85/15 ground beef.
- Adapted from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook All-American Beef Chili.