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

4.98 from 232 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

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!

Video

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven My favorite large pot for making chili!

Ingredients 
 

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.
    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.

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
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




393 Comments

  1. The best chili ever 🙌 I made extra big portion because I love meal prep. And because I knew  that this dish is going to be delicious like every another Lisa’s dish ❤️5 stars

  2. This was truly the best chili I have ever made! I had another recipe I had used for years, but I have found every recipe on Downshiftolgy to be outstanding and this was really exceeded my expectations.5 stars

  3. This looks awesome; I’ve been looking for a new chili recipe. Do you have a good corn bread recipe?
    Thanks Bob5 stars

  4. Lisa, do you have any suggestions about what I can use to replace the beans? I can’t tolerate them. Thanks!

    1. Traditional chilis are made with beans. But, you can also use chickpeas, lentils, or other diced veggies if you’re looking to keep the flavor of the broth.

  5. Hi Lisa: Last week I made the vegetarian chili which we loved. Even though I made a double portion, to share with my vegan daughter and her family, it went in a few days. It has been a while since I made beef chili, I remember the last time I made it, I tried your recipe starting out with bacon, I had never done that before. The bacon imparted great flavor. This week I saw your post on the chili and I decided I had to make it again. The base of the chili has all your ingredients. Again made a double batch. As with many recipes I try, I always impart my own touch and add things I like in my chili. Today’s chili has both 1 pd. ground turkey and 2 pds. beef, also added 2 links of sweet sausage. Vegetable added are carrots, celery, and jaIapeno peppers. i used homemade chicken broth because I was out of beef broth. Delicious! I have told many of my family and friends about Downshitology and you definitely have new followers. Whenever they hear me talking about Lisa’s recipes, they know I am referring to you. Lol. Thank you.5 stars

    1. Thrilled to hear you, your friends, and family have been enjoying Downshiftology recipes so far Adria! This chili is definitely a winter favorite :)

  6. So easy and delicious. My husband said it was the best chili he has had. I said of course it is, it’s called Best Ever Chili. Loved by the whole family and I was happy to make it ahead of time and just serve when we were ready for dinner.5 stars

  7. This was my first time ever making chili and it was delicious! I started cooking recently so I look for easy recipes to follow. This was it and the flavor is spot on. I think I deserve a pat in the back lol. Thank you, Lisa!

  8. Made this chili for dinner last night, so delicious! I have a chili recipe I have used for years, however, since so many of Lisa’s other recipes have been such a family success, I decided to give it a try. Needless to say, this is now my new go to chili recipe! Hubby isn’t a huge chili fan, but he really liked this recipe and even took some leftovers for lunch today! Easy to make and very flavorful!

  9. This is the best chili recipe I’ve ever made! My husband LOVES it and he’s very picky about his chili. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. New follower here and I love your videos. All of your recipes are easy to make and full of flavor. Congrats on the cookbook – well deserved!!5 stars

    1. Happy to hear your husband loves this chili recipe Julie! Make sure to give my white chicken chili a try as well :)

  10. Outstanding taste! This really is the best ever chili recipe. The bacon base and cooking the veggies in bacon fat give this a real edge. Plus, it is very simple to make. It reminds me of the chili I used to love as a child about 100 years ago. Thank you!5 stars

  11. So dang good….and easy! Your recipes are fabulous and not complicated. Thank you! I will be getting your cookbook for sure! 🧡5 stars

  12. We made this Classic Beef Chili recipe for the first time and it’s so so delicious 😋 
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! 
    We used olive oil instead of bacon 😉
    I have a question please, the nutrition scores mentioned are for the full quantity of the meal or for 100 grams? 

  13. Wow! So good! Perfect seasoning!  Thank you! I did sub a few things because I didn’t want to run out to the grocery store. I used turkey and no bacon. And I used tomatoes with green chiles.. But the seasoning measurements were followed strictly. So so good! I will be making more very soon! Thank you. 5 stars

  14. This chili is delicious. I’ve made it a few times. I like to add 1 large sweet potato to the mix. So much taste!5 stars

  15. Hi Lisa,
    I looooove your recipes. Do you have a slow cooker version of this recipe? We work all day and would love to come home to this beautiful chili for dinner.

  16. I am vegetarian.  I tried many Chili recipies before without success and your version is absolutely the greatest!

    I just made meat substitution and added a bit of sweetness and the result was excellent!  Thanks5 stars

  17. Hi, I can’t wait to make this today. Have you ever used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon? It’s the only thing I have on hand.

  18. I’m trying to avoid red meat when possible.  Your thoughts on substituting ground beef with ground turkey ???  I appreciate your input. 5 stars

  19. 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

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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

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

      1. I made it in the Instant Pot today, 10 minutes on high pressure, then natural release for about 15 minutes. It was so delicious!!5 stars

  26. 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?

  27. 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?

    1. 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.

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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

    1. 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 :)

  31. 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?

  32. 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