The best chili is a homemade chili and easy to make with ground beef, beans, fire roasted tomatoes and the perfect chili seasonings, what I grew up with.
Easy Homemade Chili Recipe
We're cooking up a big pot of comforting homemade chili in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. You're going to love it. It's loaded up with ground beef, fire roasted tomatoes, lots of chilies, and beans.
Like many of us, chili is something I grew up with. My mother used to cook up a big pot for dinner, and I remember the smell of it simmering on the stove, driving me crazy with hunger.
She always made hers with grounds meats and kidney beans, along with canned tomatoes and a store bought chili seasoning packet.
It was always easy to make and fed the whole family.
What is Chili?
Chili is a flavorful stew of meats and chilies, often with tomatoes, beans, and seasonings. Chili has evolved from its early versions of meats and chili peppers simmering in a broth thickened with cornmeal.
This particular chili recipe is a beef chili very much like you'll find all around America in kitchens and restaurants. It's sort of a prototypical bowl of chili with beans, very easy for you to make and also customize to your own preference, like changing the type of beans, using different meats, and playing with the seasoning combinations.
I hope you enjoy it!
Let's talk about how to make chili, shall we?
- Olive Oil.
- Chili Peppers. I like to use jalapenos for heat and flavor, but use bell peppers for a milder chili.
- Ground Beef. You can use other ground meats, like ground turkey, chicken, or pork.
- Seasonings. Chili powder, cayenne pepper (optional), cumin, salt and black pepper.
- Tomato Paste. Adds thickness and flavor.
- Beef Broth. You can use chicken broth or vegetable broth as well.
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes. You can use diced tomatoes instead, but I love the added flavor of the fire roasted tomatoes.
- Crushed Tomatoes.
- Kidney Beans. You can use other beans, like black beans, pinto beans, or a mixture.
- Optional Extras. Hot sauce (a must!) and red pepper flakes.
- Toppings. Choose your favorites!
How to Make Chili - the Recipe Method
See the recipe card at the bottom of this page for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
Cook the Vegetable Base. Heat the oil in a large pot to medium heat. I'm using my Dutch oven for this recipe, but you can use a large pot. Add the onion and peppers and cook 2-3 minutes to soften.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Brown the Beef. Add the ground beef and break apart with a wooden spoon. Brown the meat for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the Spices. Stir in the chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste, and tomato paste. Cook 1-2 minutes to let the spices bloom.
Broth, Tomatoes, and Beans. Add the beef broth, tomatoes, and kidney beans.
Simmer the Chili. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle and develop. You can simmer longer if you’d like, up to 60 minutes.
Serve with Optional Toppings. Serve with your favorite chili toppings, like shredded cheddar cheese, spicy chili flakes, sour cream, chopped onions or green onions, chopped cilantro or parsley, fritos or tortilla chips, or others.
Boom! Done! Your chili is ready to serve. Grab yourself a bowl and add as many toppings as you'd like. Nothing beats a bowl of easy homemade chili, just the way you like it.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Crock Pot Chili. Use your slow cooker or crock pot to make this recipe. Simply cook the vegetables and brown the meats per the recipe steps #1-5, then transfer everything to the crock pot and proceed. Slow cook on high for 1 hour. See my crockpot chili recipe.
- Thicken your chili with a bit of cornmeal or masa harina. Simply swirl a few tablespoons into the simmering pot and let it thicken to your preference. Adds a nice corn flavor, too!
- Try my homemade chili powder recipe for a truly sensational chili experience. You can also use a typical American chili powder blend.
- Add a tablespoon of brown sugar to your chili for a touch of lingering sweetness.
- Simmer your chili longer for more developed flavor. I like to simmer at least 1 hour or more. Add a bit of water or extra broth if needed.
Customizing Your Chili
You can change up this chili recipe to make it completely unique, which is why there are so many types of chili out there. This is a basic recipe, but here are some ways you can really make it your own.
You can use other ground meats, but also consider tougher cuts of meat like chuck roast, brisket, or pork shoulder. Cooking them low and slow in your chili makes the entire pot amazing.
This recipe uses fire roasted tomatoes and beef stock, but consider other tomatoes, roasted chili sauces and roasted chilies themselves, homemade stocks, beer, and others.
Kidney beans are popular for typical chili recipes, but consider others like black beans, great northern beans, pinto beans, red beans, and others. Chili is often great with a nice mix of colorful beans.
Most chili recipes call for "chili powder", which is typically a blend of ground chili peppers. Consider using your own personal blend of chili powders, such as ancho powder, guajillo powder, chipotle powder, chile de arbol, ground cascabel, or ground New Mexican chili powder.
You can also add other seasonings, like brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, chili pastes, and others.
Your possibilities are endless, so experiment and make your own favorite chili. Enter a chili cookoff and win!
Does Chili Have Beans?
Old school chili recipes do not include beans, but were instead a simple mix of meats, chilies and spices. Many people argue that beans don't belong in chili, and there are some great no bean chili recipes out there.
However, you'll find beans in most typical American pots of chilis, and many people enjoy them. It's a great way to round out the meal and stretch it to feed a family or crowd.
If you want to include beans in your chili, the choice is yours.
Storage & Leftovers
Homemade will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Simply warm it up gently in a pot to enjoy again. It's even better the next day after all those flavors mingle.
You can also freeze chili for 2-3 months.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this easy chili recipe. It's the best chili recipe ever, you'll see! I'd love to hear how you adapted it and customized it to make it your very own.
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Classic Chili Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 2-3 jalapeno peppers diced (use bell pepper for milder heat)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 3 tablespoons chili powder or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional, for extra spicy
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups beef broth
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with juices (or use fire roasted tomatoes as a tasty alternative, my preference)
- 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes with juices
- 2 15 ounce cans red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- Optional Extras: 1 tablespoon or more hot sauce 1 tablespoon or more red pepper flakes (for a spicier version)
- Toppings. Choose your favorites!
- Heat the oil in a large pot to medium heat.
- Add the onion and peppers and cook 2-3 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the ground beef and break apart with a wooden spoon. Brown the meat for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste, and tomato paste. Cook 1-2 minutes to let the spices bloom.
- Add the beef broth, tomatoes, and kidney beans.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle and develop. You can simmer longer if you’d like, up to 60 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite chili toppings, like shredded cheddar cheese, spicy chili flakes, sour cream, chopped green onion, chopped cilantro or parsley, fritos or tortilla chips, or others.