Best Ever Chili Recipe

This is the best chili recipe, if I do say so myself! This classic beef chili is the perfect blend of meaty richness simmered with hearty vegetables and warming spices. It’s a delicious, and comforting one-pot meal that will have the whole family begging for seconds.

A bowl of chili on a table with a spoon.

If you’re looking for a new answer to that pesky what’s-for-dinner question, I’ve got you covered. This one-pot wonder is a cinch to put together, and fills your house with enticing aromas as it simmers. 

It’s the perfect chunky mix of ground beef, bacon, vegetables, and beans with a touch of heat. But don’t forget to add your favorite shredded cheese, sour cream, and a sprinkle of green onions to amp it up.

And bonus, this recipe is light on your wallet since it relies mostly on pantry staples. Let’s dig in!

Chili Ingredients

A few pantry items and some fresh meat and vegetables are all you need to put together this best chili recipe.

  • Bacon: Adds everyone’s favorite smoky flavor to the chili. Select uncured to avoid nitrites if you prefer.
  • Ground beef: Buy a good quality freshly ground beef between 80% and 90% lean.
  • Beef broth: You could add water to the chili but no one’s secret ingredient is water. Look for a good quality product beef broth that’s low in sodium.
  • Dried spices: Besides the usual suspects of chili powder and cumin, I add smoked paprika for a touch of campfire flavor.
  • Tomatoes: Almost any variety of canned tomatoes in their juices will work here, including fire-roasted.
  • Beans: I used canned black and red kidney beans which are classics in chili but you can use any bean you like.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below

Ingredients for the best chili on a table.

How to Make The Best Chili

This recipe is all about slowly adding in layers of flavors Here’s what you do.

  1. Cook the bacon. I let my bacon cook until it’s perfectly browned and crisp.
  2. Brown the ground beef. Cook the beef with the bacon and drain off the excess fat.
  3. Add the vegetables. Let the vegetables soften and meld together with the beef.
  4. Toast the spices. Add them to the vegetables and meat to bring out their full flavor.
  5. Add tomatoes and beans. Then give everything a good mix.
  6. Simmer the chili: Cook this low and slow for about 30 minutes for maximum deliciousness!

A big pot of chili with a large serving spoon in it.

Can You Make Chili Ahead of Time?

You know it! Here are a couple of make-ahead tips.

  • Get a jump on your chili prep by chopping the vegetables and mixing your dried spices together the day before.
  • Mix your dried chili spices in larger quantities so you can spoon out just what you need, when you need it.
  • Chili always tastes better the day after you make it. Whip up a pot on the weekend and enjoy it as a quick dinner during the week.

What Do You Put On Top of Chili?

Almost anything tastes great on top of this classic chili. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Cheese. Anything from shredded cheddar to cotija to feta works well.
  • Onions: Sliced green onions, diced sweet or yellow onions, or red onions go perfectly with chili. If the bite of red onion is a little strong for you, run the diced onion under running water and pat dry.
  • Jalapeños: If you like spice, diced fresh or pickled jalapeños are delicious here.
  • Sour cream. The creamy coolness plays nice with the warm spices.
  • Cilantro or Parsley: Whole leaves or chopped, they gives a nice herbal pop.

Two bowls of chili on a table with spoons in them.

Ways To Serve

Typically, I’ll just eat it straight out the bowl with toppings. But here’s a few other ways to serve it.

  • Pour it over rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa for a much heartier meal.
  • Ladle a spoonful into a small bowl as an appetizer or side. It’s great for parties, gatherings, and of course Super Bowl

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Chili freezes incredibly well, which makes it great for meal prepping.

  • To Store: Place cooled chili in an airtight container and store for up to 5 days in the fridge. 
  • To Freeze: Use a freezer-safe bag or container and store for up to 2 months in the freezer. 
  • Reheat This: Thaw the chili either overnight in the fridge or in the microwave. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. If the chili thickens too much for your taste, add a bit of water or beef broth.

Two bowls of chili next to a little bowl of shredded cheese and spoons.

Chili Recipe Video

Watch how I make this recipe step-by-step. Click on the video below! 

More One-Pot Winter Recipes

Want more delicious dinner ideas? These one-pot or one-pan recipes sure come in hand during the busy weekdays. 

A bowl of chili next to chopped cilantro on a table.

Best Ever Chili Recipe

4.99 from 59 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
This is the best chili recipe that's a classic blend of meaty richness simmered with garden-fresh vegetables and warming spices. Watch the video above to see how I make it!

Ingredients

  • 4 strips bacon, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon paprika, or smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 28 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes, you can use diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounces red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • avocado, red onion, shredded cheese, for garnish

Instructions 

  • Heat a large pot on medium heat, add the sliced bacon and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally and scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat if bacon is browning too quickly.
    Bacon bits cooking in a large white pot.
  • Add the onion, and bell pepper to the pot, stirring frequently. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Add the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds.
    Bacon bits, diced onion and bell pepper in pot.
  • Add the ground beef, breaking into small pieces with a spatula, until cooked through. Strain off any accumulated liquid and fat from the pot.
    Raw ground beef and chili ingredients in a pot.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the tomato paste, and dried spices, and cook until they are fragrant, about 2 minutes.
    Sauteed beef, spices, and tomato paste in a pot.
  • Add the canned tomatoes with juices, drained beans, beef broth, and bay leaf. Give it a stir.
    Beans and tomatoes being added to a large pot of chili.
  • Increase the heat to high until the chili comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.
    Chili being cooked in a large white pot with a serving spoon.
  • To serve, remove bay leaf. Ladle servings into individual bowls. Garnish with avocado, red onion, cheese, cilantro or any other toppings.
    A bowl of chili garnished with cheese, avocado, red onion and cilantro.

Lisa's Tips

  • Serving Size: This recipe makes 9 cups, enough for 6 good-sized servings.
  • To Store: Place cooled chili in an airtight container and store for up to 5 days in the fridge. 
  • To Freeze: Use a freezer-safe bag or container and store for up to 2 months in the freezer. 
  • To Reheat: Thaw the chili either overnight in the fridge or in the microwave. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. If the chili thickens too much for your taste, add a bit of water or beef broth.
  • To control the amount of salt in your chili, choose unsalted beef broth, beans, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste.
  • Bacon can be tricky to slice. To make it easier, place your bacon in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm it up.
  • Want to spice this up even more? Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper!
  • Make sure to use a large pot, to accomodate all these ingredients. My favorite is the beautiful Le Creuset dutch oven you see pictured.

Nutrition

Calories: 512kcal, Carbohydrates: 46g, Protein: 40g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 83mg, Sodium: 1153mg, Potassium: 1180mg, Fiber: 15g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1816IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 131mg, Iron: 9mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef chili, best chili recipe, chili recipe
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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152 comments on “Best Ever Chili Recipe”

  1. Dear Lisa, this recipe is one of your family favorites! I am so grateful for all your recipes and as a nutrition coach I feel confident to share your recipes with my clients! Thank you for all your hard work you put into creating and filming recipes and I wish you all the best on your cookbook writing journey!5 stars

    • Happy to hear you and your clients have been enjoying my recipes Emina! Can’t wait for the cookbook reveal next year :)

  2. Do you ever make the spice blend in bulk like with the taco seasoning?

  3. Is the nutrition table amounts for a single serving? 

  4. I make this recipe at least once a week; its one of my favorites, and so easy to prep AND store for leftovers!5 stars

  5. This chili was very good!5 stars

  6. I made this last week when we had a snow storm and it was perfect! It is SOOO delicious. It will be our new go to chili recipe. Easy and yummy. Only change I made was I’m not a black bean fan so I used a combo of kidney and pinto. Delicious!5 stars

  7. This recipe is by far the best and easiest recipe I’ve tasted and made. My family loved it and now I make it a few times a month. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

  8. This was so easy and so delicious it was so good that one batch wasn’t enough 
    Thank you for sharing 5 stars

  9. I just made your chili and it is the Best chili I have ever had! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!5 stars

  10. YUM! Made the following adjustments to what I had on hand: i subbed pastrami for the bacon. I used only 1 lb of beef but added an extra bell pepper. I added one chopped and seeded jalapeño pepper and 1/2 tsp of cayenne. This was seriously good!5 stars

  11. This was so good!! This might just be my my new go to chili recipe.5 stars

  12. This recipe is absolutely delicious! It might be my favorite chili I’ve ever made! Thank you!5 stars

  13. Hi Lisa – I  going to try this recipe! Any suggestion if need to make it in an Instant pot instead of a stove? 

  14. Delicious! Added just a little more chili powder and the heat was just right. It was such a hit that I only got 4 servings out of it and not 6. Is it OK to double the recipe?

  15. it’s just perfect!!!5 stars

  16. Hi! I want to make this today but I don’t have any bacon. I guess I could just leave it out? Also, I don’t have beef broth (my store was out) but I have chicken bone broth. Yay or nay on using that instead?

    • Hi Sharon – You can omit the bacon and chicken broth is fine if that’s all you have. The flavor just might be a smidge different, but that’s okay.

  17. I have made this chili many times and it’s a bit with everyone I serve it to :)! It’s heart without being heavy! One question, the calories count and nutrition info, is that per serving? Thank you!5 stars

  18. The chili was delicious. Most of my family doesn’t like overly hot and spicy food so this recipe was perfect, just the right amount of heat. It was even better second day.5 stars

  19. Hearty, deep flavors, texture! I love this. My husband gets heartburn from chili that are heavy on the tomato-based products (like ones with cans of tomato sauce) but this works really well for us. Honestly, I leave out the bacon and still love it. My only challenge is keeping it a stew-soup like texture after it’s been in the fridge. I find that after a day, reheating it, it becomes very chunky and thick. My solution has been adding a splash of water before it gets microwaved and that’s worked fine. I think I will try adding a bit more broth next time.5 stars

    • Thanks for the tip Kaitlin if anyone finds it to be too chunky after sitting in the fridge. But I’m glad both you and your husband enjoy this chili recipe :)

  20. If I’m using dried black beans & dried kidney beans (cooking from scratch), can I just put it in directly into the recipe or I have to pre-cook it first?

  21. This tastes just as good as it looks and very filling.5 stars

  22. I have made your chili recipe several times and agree it is the best ever. This week I made both your lentil soup and the chili side by side. I am not sure what possessed me, although I was going to freeze both in the “souper” silicone trays but I stirred the 2 together after they had cooked. OMG it was a flavor and texture explosion. Similar ingredients but it is amazing!!!! 😂5 stars

  23. This recipe was absolutely delicious! Thank you.5 stars

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