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Hearty, filling, and perfect for chilly weather, the best classic chili recipe is the answer you need for your traditional family dinner tonight. My kids love this, especially in the winter on a rainy day. This family favorite classic chili recipe provides a rich, beef and bean-filled meal that will keep bellies warm while having plenty for leftovers too!

Best chili recipe

Best Chili Recipe

For the best chili recipe ever, you want something that takes easy-to-find ingredients and puts it all together in one pot. The recipe calls for stove top cooking though you could easily prep this and throw it in your slow cooker or instant pot to come home to after a long day. All you’ll need are some sides and you’ll be golden!

Easy Chili Recipe

Chili is not difficult to make. It only tastes complex. Once you make this easy chili recipe, your family will ask for it all the time. It really couldn’t be easier. Just 30 minutes of prep time and the heat will take care of the rest. The best thing about a simple chili recipe is that once you add in all the chili ingredients it is simply time that allows the flavors to combined and develop, not skill.

Chili ingredients

Chili Ingredients

  • Ground beef – use lean and you won’t have as much fat to contend with (though it tastes better if it’s a little fatty like 80/20). A beef chili recipe is the traditional way to make chili.
  • Beans – I use both black beans and red kidney beans from the can in my recipe (make sure you drain them!).
  • Peppers – serrano peppers and sweet peppers add complexity to the flavors without making the recipe itself complex. If you prefer a spicy chili recipe then simply add in some extra peppers.
  • Chili powder – the original must-use ingredient though you can adjust it to your level of spiciness.

Easy chili recipe

How do You Make Homemade Chili from Scratch

Making homemade chili is quite simple. You’ll first need to cook the onions and garlic. Then you’ll add your beef and cook it through. You’ll finally add the peppers and seasonings, stirring it together to get that beautiful flavor together. There is nothing like a real homemade chili recipe to warm you up on a cold day.

After that, you can choose to drain away fat or leave it in for a fuller flavor before adding in the rest of the ingredients and letting it simmer until you can’t stand salivating over the aroma any longer!

How to make chili

Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Chili

  • Spices are key – Spices are really the key element in the taste of chili. It’s what takes it from being a drive-thru offering that you eat only because you’re hungry and blue ribbon winner at the state fair. You can use chili powder ready to go or make up your own chili spice blend as you get even better at making it. This will help you cultivate your own flavor.
  • Time is on your side – The longer it cooks, the better it will be due to the flavors coming together. That’s why your chili may taste even more delicious tomorrow. Make a big batch and you can enjoy it any time. I’ve got tips for freezing it below.

You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Bowl.

What ingredient makes the best chili?

When it comes to the best chili, chili powder is essential for delivering that signature heat. You can adjust it to your spice preference to keep it mild or make it extra hot as you see fit.

What gives chili the best flavor?

Along with chili powder, other notable ingredients including ground cumin, serrano peppers, sweet peppers, and fresh crushed garlic give chili the best flavor.

How do you make chili more flavorful?

The secret is using fresh ingredients and herbs whenever possible. Garlic, onions, and both spicy and sweet peppers lend great contrast and work with the pantry ingredients to take them to that blue ribbon-winning level.

What makes a good chili?

For good chili, you must have a combination of contrasting flavors. You need a little sweet, bitter, spicy, fresh, and meaty tastes all in one. The beans should be just tender enough without becoming mush so that the textures are preserved to make the whole experience even more delicious.

What’s the secret ingredient for chili?

In this recipe, the secret ingredient for chili is using two types of peppers. With both serrano and sweet peppers, you get spicy, bitter, and sweet knocked out and a whole complex array of flavors.

How long to cook chili

Can you put raw ground beef in chili?

Yes, you can put the ground beef in raw. This is ideal for setting in your slow cooker if you’re in a hurry before going to work. However, while it does keep an additional pot out of your sink, when you brown the meat first, it adds a different complexity to your chili’s flavor that you might not want to miss out on.

Do you have to brown meat before making chili?

You do not have to brown the meat first before making chili, although it does make the chili taste richer and more savory!

When should you add beans to chili?

You should add the beans to the chili after you’ve browned the meat. You’ll toss them in along with the peppers and then quickly add the rest of the ingredients before letting them simmer together in delicious bliss.

How Long to Cook Chili

Chili only takes about 30 minutes to get ready. The rest of it is cooking, for about 30 minutes, and then a little simmer time for about another 30 minutes. But if you don’t want to hover over the stove top or have places to go and things to see,  you can always do all the preliminary prep work on the stove and then put it all together in the slow cooker.

How to thicken chili

How to Thicken Chili

On the stove top, it’s very easy to get your chili to thicken up. Take off the cover and voila! Your chili should thicken on its own as it simmers. If that doesn’t do the trick, simply make a little slurry out of cornstarch and water. Stir it well before stirring it into your pot of chili and it will thicken up quickly (and no, that won’t change the taste!).

Chili toppings

Chili Toppings

One thing I looooooove about chili are the countless ways you can top it:

  • Sour cream (need I say more?)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (cheese is really a classic)
  • Chopped cilantro (trust me, try it)
  • Chopped green onions (adds a fresh and zesty crunch)

What to Serve with Chili

Chili is an interesting meal because it’s basically a big bowl of soup or stew. But it fills you up! Still, you could do with a few other things on the table. Homemade cornbread is always a classic though adding jalapeno to that cornbread really kicks things off. Baked potatoes, broccoli salad, grilled corn, or even nachos with tortilla chips can be a great way to have your own chili cookoff for dinner every night.

Can you freeze chili

Can you make chili in a crockpot?

Yes, and a crockpot chili recipe is easy too. Just start with the stove-top steps and then instead of simmering it there, combine all the cooked and uncooked ingredients into your crockpot or slow cooker. A slow cooker chili recipe will not be that different at all.

Is Chili healthy?

You can make chili healthier by draining the fat from the beef or using lean meat. You can also keep it vegetarian if you prefer by adding more tomato sauce, tomato paste, and veggies to make the perfect vegetarian chili. Some recipes even call for beef broth as an enhancement. The spices and peppers used in chili also have health benefits that are great for immunity during the colder weather months.

How to reheat chili

Can You Freeze Chili?

Confession…I usually have chili frozen in my freezer at any given time. It’s perfect for a busy night or to take to the office for a money-saving lunch that fills you up. Freeze it in freezer bags to portion it out easier. Ideally, let it have some time to defrost in the fridge overnight first.

How to Reheat Chili

Chili can easily be reheated on the stove top or in the microwave. All you need to do is figure out how much you’ll be serving and take it from there!

Watch How To Make Chili (Video)

The Best Traditional Chili Recipe

5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Simmer Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 403
By far the BEST traditional chili recipe that reminds you of home. This is a family favorite that warms your soul and makes exceptional leftovers that are quick and easy!


  • 3 tbsp olive oil (with optional red chili pepper flakes)
  • 5 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 1/2 cups red onion (chopped)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red chili powder (adjust for spice preference)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 29oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 15oz can of black beans (drained)
  • 32oz can of kidney beans (drained)
  • 3 serrano peppers (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet peppers
  • 29oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 small tub sour cream (for topping)
  • 1 small bag shredded cheese (for topping)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (chopped) (for topping)


  • In a large pot, over medium heat the olive oil and minced garlic for about 2 minutes. Once heated, add onions and stir until they caramelize and become semi-translucent which takes about 5 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef into the mixture and mix well until cooked through.
  • Add in the serrano peppers, black beans, kidney beans, cumin, red chili powder, and garlic powder. Once mixed, add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low heat to medium low cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes.
  • Serve by topping with scoop of sour cream, shredded cheese, and chopped cilantro.
Calories: 403kcal
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American


Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 1067mg | Potassium: 582mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2158IU | Vitamin C: 57mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 4mg


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I’m a mom of two, food and wine lover, and recipe creation enthusiast. Good food brings families together. Which is why I’m devoted to sharing my best recipes that are simple enough for even the beginner cook that your family will love!

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