Best Homemade Chili

4.83 from 28 votes
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Ready to spice up your dinner routine? This is the best chili recipe, with its perfect blend of spices and hearty ingredients.

If you’re a chili fan, try my other flavors, like white bean chicken chili, vegetarian chili, or slow cooker pork chili.

Best chili recipe to serve on a chilly day.

Make a big pot of this classic chili recipe for an easy and comforting meal to feed a family or crowd. Hearty ground beef, beans, and vegetables simmer in bold spices. It only takes 30 minutes to cook and infuse the delicious ingredients together.

What makes a good chili recipe a great one is my special chili seasoning mix, plus coffee, to add dimension. Customizing the heat level for those who love an extra spicy flavor is easy. This beef chili is versatile. It’s great for serving on top of burgers, fries, hot dogs, nachos, or baked potatoes.

Key ingredients

Ingredients needed to make this homemade chili recipe on the stovetop.
  • Beef: I use 80% lean ground beef to balance the meat and fat ratio for the best taste and texture. Other types of ground beef can be used, but leaner options tend to be much chewier.
  • Chili Seasoning: Use my special chili seasoning blend for the recipe. It combines chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and chipotle chili powder. You’ll need ¼ cup for the chili recipe.
  • Vegetables: Freshly diced onions and minced garlic add earthy notes and natural sweetness to the dish. Bell peppers add crispness and complement the paprika. Minced jalapeno adds a kick of heat.
  • Tomatoes: I use a trio of tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. The variety increases the thickness and adds sweetness and a chunky texture.
  • Beans: Red kidney beans are traditionally used in chili. For convenience and to save time, you can use canned beans that have been rinsed and drained.
  • Liquids: Beef broth or stock enhances the meaty taste of the ground beef. Coffee is bitter, which balances the sweetness of the tomatoes. Worcestershire sauce adds a tangy and umami flavor.

Cook the aromatics and beef

To develop layers of flavor in the chili, start by cooking the alliums. I like to use my Dutch oven; it’s great for sauteing and simmering. Add the onions and garlic, cooking to mellow out the sulfurous notes.

Add the ground beef and break it into smaller chunks before thoroughly cooking. If you wait too long, the proteins pack tightly together, making separating harder.

Add the seasoning and vegetables

With the fat drippings from the beef in the pan, it’s the ideal time to add the dried chili seasoning. This allows the spices to bloom in the fat, releasing more fat-soluble flavor compounds and intense aromatics. Add the tomato paste, diced red bell pepper, and spicy jalapenos.

Cook them briefly to enhance their flavor before simmering the chili. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot: the kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, beef broth, coffee, and Worcestershire sauce.

Cook the chili

Homemade chili simmering in a large pot.

The ingredients need time to meld together for the best taste. Bring to a boil, then simmer and stir the beef mixture. This reduces some liquid and concentrates the savory and spicy flavors, yielding a heartier texture. This period also allows the acids in the tomatoes, coffee, and Worcestershire sauce to help further break down the muscle fibers of the beef.

The process takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Note the chili will taste even better the next day as the ingredients have more time to infuse flavor. I like to top each bowl with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions for serving. It is truly the ultimate comfort food.

Flavor variations

Now that you know how to make the best chili recipe, you can experiment by customizing the ingredients. Try these delicious suggestions for your next pot:

  • Protein: Instead of beef, try ground turkey, chicken, or pork. Make it vegetarian with tofu, seitan, tempeh, or quinoa.
  • Chilies: Add fresh serrano or habanero or your favorite type of peppers. Increase the spiciness of the chili with cayenne pepper or more chipotle chili powder for a smokier flavor.
  • Herbs: Add fresh or dried oregano, thyme, basil, or parsley.
  • Vegetables: Add diced sweet potato, carrots, celery, corn, mushrooms, or zucchini.
  • Beans: Along with the kidney beans, add white beans, black beans, or pinto beans for different colors and textures.
  • Liquid: Add beer or soy sauce along with the beef broth and coffee.
  • Sweetness: Add brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup to add sweetness.
  • Toppings: Add crunchy tortilla chips, goldfish crackers, hot sauce, plain Greek yogurt, diced chilies, cilantro, or shredded cheese like sharp cheddar or pepper jack.
Close up of a metal serving spoon scooping up chili out of a pot.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

Can I use canned beans or should I use dried beans?

Canned beans are the quickest option for making stovetop chili. If you prefer dried beans, try my quick soaking method before simmering the beans in the chili. After soaking, cooking the chili will take at least 60 to 90 minutes.

How can I make my chili less spicy?

I would omit the chipotle chili powder from the chili seasoning mix. The chili powder can also be reduced from 1 tablespoon to 2 teaspoons. Adjust the levels to taste.

Can I freeze chili for later?

Cool the chili down and transfer to freezer bags or an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Two bowls of chili served with a dollop of whipped cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

Recipe Science

Making chili in a slow cooker

Making a batch of chili in a slow cooker is an ideal way to prepare the dish because it gives more time for the flavors to infuse and the beef to tenderize. The meat can be browned and vegetables sauteed before adding to the vessel for more flavor or added directly to the pot. Cook on the high setting for 3 to 4 hours or the low setting for 5 to 6 hours. I recommend adding only ¾ to 1 cup of beef broth since the liquid will not evaporate and concentrate in the vessel.

Best Homemade Chili Recipe

Do you crave a comforting bowl of chili packed with flavor? My homemade chili recipe is perfected with a medley of aromatic spices and hearty ingredients.
4.83 from 28 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion, ¼" dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef, 80% lean
  • ¼ cup chili seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper, ¼" dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno
  • 30 ounces canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes, plus juice
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted beef broth, or stock
  • ½ cup coffee, optional
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions 

  • Cook Aromatics – Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, then once hot, add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Cook the Beef – Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking the meat into smaller chunks, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Add Seasonings and Vegetables – Add the chili seasoning. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add bell peppers and minced jalapenos, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the Beans and Tomatoes – Add the kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, beef broth, coffee (if using), and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
  • Cook the Chili – Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally, cooking until the liquid reduces slightly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce the heat if bubbling too rapidly.
  • To Serve – Serve with desired toppings like sour cream, cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions.

Equipment

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: About 8 cups
  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Coffee Substitute: If omitting the coffee, replace the amount with beef stock.
  • Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 393kcal (20%)Carbohydrates 29g (10%)Protein 23g (46%)Fat 22g (34%)Saturated Fat 7g (35%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 60mg (20%)Sodium 619mg (26%)Potassium 1076mg (31%)Fiber 9g (36%)Sugar 8g (9%)Vitamin A 2524IU (50%)Vitamin C 42mg (51%)Calcium 102mg (10%)Iron 5mg (28%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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7 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. TL Thompson says

    You are not making chili, you are making chili beans! There is nothing traditional about using kidney beans, chili saints preserve us, in chili at all! You can cook a side pot of pinto beans but that’s as close as you get. If you can’t make a rich, hearty batch of chili without adding coffee, stop and start over or give up! Chili has no beans and no coffee, beer yes, no beans, no coffee! God Bless Texas!

  2. Jeff says

    Jessica,
    How would this need to be modified to use an Instant Pot?
    What changes using dry beans vs. canned beans.

    Thanks,
    Jeff