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. 

This big pot of chili will surely satisfy all your comfort food cravings. So, if you make this, I’d love to hear what you think in a comment below!

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

Best Ever Chili Recipe

4.99 from 83 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!


  • 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


  • 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.


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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210 comments on “Best Ever Chili Recipe”

  1. Made this recipe this afternoon for dinner tonight and leftovers for work tomorrow. Absolutely delicious! The only thing I added was a bit of ground pepper. Overall great meal. I’ve tried several of her recipes and I have yet to be disappointed. All great recipes and full of flavor!5 stars

  2. This is so delicious!!! the bacon is a GAME CHANGER! I had to make a few adjustments (my grocery store has been out of canned tomatoes for weeks…not sure whats going on there) but thankfully I had crushed tomatoes. I gave some to my parents and they loved it as well! My mom is making it herself tomorrow. Your recipes never disappoint! Thanks, Lisa!5 stars

  3. Lisa,

    thank you for another great recipe which I cannot wait to try! Can this be made with fresh black beans?

  4. So delicious!  Loved the step by step process.  Very clear directions. My new favorite chili 5 stars

  5. You can’t ever go wrong with bacon as an ingredient, and the bacon in this chili is no exception. Perhaps I’m alone in not knowing bacon could be put in chili, but for me, it was an eye-opening, “why didn’t I think of that” moment. Very delicious recipe that I will be making again soon! My husband typically does not like chili, but this recipe got his stamp of approval when he requested that I make it again!5 stars

  6. LOVED this recipe. Shared it with a few others who also totally love it. It’s so easy and has so much flavor. I like a little spice, so I added some hot sauce or red pepper flakes to mine. SO. GOOD.5 stars

  7. Best chili recipe I’ve ever made! And I don’t just say those things. The bacon in it made it!!! So delicious!! Loved this recipe, thanks so much for sharing!!5 stars

  8. I made this chili yesterday (I just left out the bay leaf because I didn’t have one). It is perfect! I have never made chili with fire roasted tomatoes, but now I don’t see myself making chili with any other type! Thank you for your simple, healthy recipes.5 stars

  9. We had one of our chilliest days of the season today, so I decided to make this. Now, I cannot stop eating this chili! It’s that good! I added celery because I had it on hand. I threw in a bag of seasoning blend frozen veg (in addition to the fresh veg). I used Ancho Powder. And I think I had a little less ground beef yet it was still good and meaty. The flavors are SO GOOD!!! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS RECIPE!5 stars

    • Hi Melisa – I’m so happy you loved this recipe! And you’re right, it really is flexible so feel free to tweak it with the ingredients you have on hand. Sounds like you did a fab job! x

  10. Wow this was delicious! We added it to the recipe box. Looking forward to more new cold-weather dishes this fall/winter. Thanks Lisa!5 stars

  11. Hi Lisa, I made this recipe last week. It was easy and so good. Love your blog and videos. Thank you. Have a great weekend.5 stars

  12. This REALLY is the Best Ever Chili! I followed the recipe, but added 2lbs of ground beef and 6 strips of bacon.
    This chili will be a staple in this household, and probably a weekly meal during this winter! Thank you Lisa for another hit recipe!5 stars

    • Amazing! Happy to hear this has become a staple in the kitchen now Jane :) Definitely one to enjoy all year round as well.

  13. This chili is my new go to! It is so warm and perfect on a chili day like today. Thank you! 5 stars

  14. Made this chili tonight its 45 degrees today hubby and i have the fireplace going and let me tell you! THIS is truly the BEST Chili I have ever made or had! Thank you SO much Lisa! Awesome! 5 stars!!!5 stars

  15. This is such a great recipe! I switched the beef for ground turkey and it turned out really good!5 stars

  16. Delicious, Lisa!  Made it today just as the recipe stated and it came out great.  Used my new Temptations skillet.  Thank you for sharing this wonderful meal with us all.  Excited to enjoy now that the temperatures are dropping in Las Vegas, finally! 5 stars

  17. Hi Lisa! Made the beef chilli today , came out absolutely amazing, taste good and my husband loved it. Thanks for a great recipe 🙏5 stars

  18. This looks delicious! Just a quick tip for any Australian readers – American chili powder is NOT the same as our chilli powder which is 100% dried, powdered chillies. American chili powder is a mixture of spices which includes dried chillies – hence this recipe uses 2 TBS. You can make your own mix by googling it.

  19. Best chili ever Lisa- 5 stars! Thank you for this delicious recipe :)5 stars

  20. Excellent recipe Lisa, flavors are all spot on. I added a couple of chopped jalapenos for garnish.5 stars

  21. Wow! Delicious. I needed to use up some ground turkey, and the substitution was no problem. Your recipes are consistently on point. Thank you!!5 stars

  22. This chili is the best I’ve ever had! I love all your recipes and am going down the whole list of the
    recipes, making up a shopping list for the week. I especially like the one pot meals. So good, healthy and no fuss! 
    Thank you! 5 stars

  23. This is a good and healty recipe for chili. It’s not because of the recipe, and I’m not certain if it was the brand of chili powder I used. But it had a blunt, dull, bitter flavor. I did a little digging around on google and came across a video about this bitterness problem. She suggested several remedies. I’ll list the healthy options:
    Maple Syrup
    2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar (which is what I used and it did help to cut that bitterness).
    If anyone uses a brand of chili that doesn’t cause this issue please let me know. I used Simply Oraganic. I’m fairly certain that’s what it was because I only used 1/2 the amount of Cumin in fear of that being bitter as well.4 stars

    • Hi Donna – the recipe doesn’t taste bitter to me, but everyone’s taste buds are different. I’m glad you found a few tips for flavor tweaks. Hope your next batch is even better!

  24. This was the best!! We love it and it will become part of our rotation. We have 5 kids and no complaints. I halved the chilli just to be sure but will add some back in next time. :)5 stars

  25. I made the chili last night, it was AMAZING!5 stars

  26. It was wonderful and pretty easy to make. Lots of flavor!5 stars

  27. This was delicious! I used half turkey and half beef and added a bit of chipotle in a dodo sauce.5 stars

  28. This chili is now on the stove smelling sooooo good. It was so easy to put together and I sneaked in some extra veggies that I needed to use up. I made an extra batch since it is so freezer friendly. Cant wait to eat it tonight ;-). 

  29. Best Ever Chili Recipe is a winner! Thank you! I was going to freeze part of it, but it was gone before I had a chance. I love the Potato Salad, too.5 stars

  30. Omg my family and I absolutely loved this recipe, I will definitely make it again. I’ve tried different chilli recipe in the past (they were horrible) but this one is the best 10/10👏5 stars

  31. Just made this on a cold autumnal day in France. Thanks Lisa, another beautiful recipe. We are so grateful to you for making beautiful food, videoing it and giving us clear instructions. I’ve made many of your dishes and they are always a success. Stay well and creative xx5 stars

  32. This was a hit with the whole family. It was delicious
    and flavorful.5 stars

  33. I’m not a big fan of chili; but, I made this for my family of three tonight and we all enjoyed your recipe (my 4 year old even ate it). We will definitely be making this again. Can you tell us how much you think is one serving? Thanks!!! 🙂5 stars

  34. Looks yummy!  What brand of beans do you use?

  35. Sounds delicious! Can this be thrown into an instant pot and if so, do you know how long I should cook it for?

  36. I made this last weekend and it was wonderful! I love the addition of bacon which really boosts the flavor. Just two of us, so we are having it again tonight and I froze a third as well.5 stars

  37. Lisa, this looks great! Would using a slow cooker be a good option?

  38. Just to clarify, is your NUTRITION label for the whole pot? If not , what is the serving size? Thank you! Love your work!

  39. We had all the ingredients for this. It was so good, the two types of beans and the bacon made it really awesome!!! Thanks for a great recipe 5 stars

  40. Hi Lisa I will definitely try this today, without buy the chilli seasoning that come in the package, I can’t wait, what’s sooo funny is I have the seasoning in my cabinet!!5 stars

  41. Looks perfect for the season! So comforting and delicious5 stars

  42. Love this chilli recipe!  Perfect for busy weeknights, I can make it during the day and reheat at dinner!5 stars

  43. I love the addition of the bacon. Can’t wait to try it!5 stars

  44. The chili recipe to fight for! And it is so timely to prepare to the new season ahead. Really excited to have this in my collection.5 stars

  45. Wow! This truly does sound like the best ever chili! Love the addition of bacon :)5 stars

  46. You mentioned adding tamari to the chili, but it wasn’t included in your recipe.   How much do you use?
    You have great recipes and videos!!!!

    • Hi there- that was on a previous version, but recently removed to keep the recipe soy-free. But you could always add 1-2 tablespoons as it simmers!

  47. Lisa, I don’t see the tamari (your secret ingredient) in the recipe.  Maybe I missed it.5 stars

  48. Hi! I’m always looking for the best chilli! Quick question – at the beginning of the post it says Tamari is a secret ingredient, but it’s not listed in the recipe ingredients Section or the directions. It’s also 1am so maybe I missed it 🙈

    • Hi Heidi – that’s strange, that was listed on a previous version but not the published version (as I had a few requests to keep it soy free). I don’t see it listed on the website…do you still see it there today?

  49. Hi Lisa,
    This recipe looks amazing, but my hubby hates beans in chili. If I remove the 30 oz of beans from the recipe, will the ratios of everything else still be okay or do I need to make some adjustments?
    Thanks for all the great resources that help us become more confident in the kitchen!

  50. You mentioned your secret ingredient is tamari in your chili recipe ,but I don’t see it mentioned in the ingredient list, directions or video. Did I miss something?

    • Hi Vicki- that was on a previous version, but recently removed to keep the recipe soy-free. But you could always add 1-2 tablespoons as it simmers!