Best Ever Chili Recipe


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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 with toppings and spoon.

If it’s cold outside and you’re looking for an answer to that pesky what’s-for-dinner question, I’ve got you covered. The answer is chili! This one-pot wonder is a cinch to make, and it fills your house with enticing aromas as it simmers.

Chili is the perfect chunky mix of ground beef, bacon, vegetables, and beans with a touch of heat. But don’t forget to add your favorite toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, and a sprinkle of green onions – it really amps it up!

Chili recipes, whether it’s this classic beef chili, a white chicken chili, vegetarian chili, or turkey chili, are also budget friendly since they rely heavily on pantry staples. That makes them a perennial one-pot dinner winner!

Chili ingredients on a table.

Chili Ingredients

A few pantry items, some vegetables, ground beef, and a few strips of bacon are all you need to pull together this amazing chili recipe.

  • Ground beef: You can buy ground beef anywhere between 80% and 90% lean. I prefer 90% just so I don’t have to drain any excess fat. But you could purchase 80% and then drain off any residual fat, it’s up to you.
  • Bacon: Bacon adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the chili. I’d consider it the secret (or not so secret) ingredient!
  • Beef broth: I recommend purchasing a high-quality beef broth for the best flavor.
  • 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. But I love canned fire-roasted tomatoes for extra flavor!
  • Beans: I’m using a combination of black beans and red kidney beans which are classics in chili, but you can use any beans you like.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below

Adding ground beef to a pot to make chili.

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 crispy.
  2. Saute the vegetables. Saute the diced onion and bell pepper with the bacon for a few minutes.
  3. Brown the ground beef. Add the ground beef to the pot, cook until browned, then drain off the excess fat.
  4. Toast the spices. Stir the spices and seasonings with the vegetables and meat to bring out their full flavor.
  5. Add the tomatoes, broth, and beans. This forms the bulk of the chili. Then give everything a good stir.
  6. Simmer the chili. Cook this low and slow for about 30 minutes for maximum deliciousness!
A pot of chili.

Can You Make Chili Ahead of Time?

You sure can! 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 in a separate container the day before. Even better, mix your dried chili spices in a larger quantity 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.
  • Don’t forget that chili freezes beautifully! And it can be stored in the freezer for several months.

What Do You Put On Top of Chili?

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

  • Cheese. Anything from shredded cheddar to cotija to feta works well.
  • Onions: Sliced green onions or diced 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: Just a sprinkle of chopped herbs gives a nice pop of freshness and flavor.
Two bowls of chili with spoons.

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 4 to 5 days in the fridge. 
  • To Freeze: Use a freezer-safe bag or airtight container and store it for up to 3 months in the freezer. 
  • To Reheat: Thaw frozen chili overnight in the fridge. Then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, until warmed through. If the chili thickens too much for your taste, add a splash of water or beef broth.
Two bowls of beef chili.

More Warming Winter Recipes

Want a few more delicious dinner ideas? These one-pot or one-pan recipes sure come in hand during the busy weekdays. And let’s not forget, chili in particular is great for parties, gatherings, and of course Super Bowl

This big pot of chili will surely satisfy all your comfort food cravings. If you make this, I’d love to hear what you think in a comment below. You review will help the community!

A pot of chili.

Best Ever Chili Recipe

4.99 from 172 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


This is the best chili recipe that's a classic blend of meaty richness simmered with vegetables and warming spices. Watch the video below to see how I make it!



  • Dutch Oven My favorite large pot for making chili!



  • 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.
    Sauteeing bacon in a 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, onion, and bell peppers in a 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.
    Adding ground beef to a pot to make chili.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the tomato paste, and dried spices, and cook until they are fragrant, about 2 minutes.
    Adding spices and seasoning to a pot to make chili.
  • Add the canned tomatoes with juices, drained beans, beef broth, and bay leaf. Give it a stir.
    Adding beans to a pot to make 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.
    A pot of beef chili.
  • To serve, remove bay leaf. Ladle servings into individual bowls. Garnish with avocado, red onion, cheese, cilantro or any other toppings.
    A bowl of beef chili with toppings.

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 4 to 5 days in the fridge. 
  • To Freeze: Use a freezer-safe bag or airtight container and store for up to 3 months in the freezer. 
  • To Reheat:  Thaw frozen chili overnight in the fridge. Then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, until warmed through. If the chili thickens too much for your taste, add a splash 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 1¼ 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
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally published September 2020, but updated to include new information.

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  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. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

    1. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

      1. I’ve made this several times now but yesterday was the first without bacon (substituted a bit of olive oil) and it was still amazing.5 stars

  15. 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

  16. 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

    1. Wonderful! I’m glad you loved the chili recipe, Susan. One pot meals are always popular, and I plan to add many more. Hope you enjoy!

  17. 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

    1. 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!

  18. 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

      1. Husband and teenager were agree to say that this chili IS the best!
        The leftovers will be in our bento boxes for tomorrow.
        Thank you so much for sharing.5 stars

  19. 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 ;-). 

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

    1. Hi Stephanie- I haven’t tried this in the instant pot yet, but if you do try it, let me know how long you cook it for!

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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!!!!

    1. 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!

    1. Hi Paula – 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!

  29. 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 🙈

    1. 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?

  30. 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!

    1. Hi Michelle – I’d probably reduce the amount of liquid a bit and add in some other veggies to compensate for that. :) Hope you enjoy it!

  31. 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?

    1. 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!