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 228 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




384 Comments

  1. If I sauté the veggies and bacon first, and add the beans in later closer to when I’m ready to serve it (like 30-45 minutes before eating) do you think it will turn out just as good?

    PS – HUGE fan of your recipes. I live by them. Your white chicken chili is a constant meal in our house. 🥰 Thank you!

  2. Dang this chili was good. I followed the recipe to a T. I have been trying different recipes for years but always feel kind of embarrassed when I serve it – it’s always been bland and lacking flavor. The entire family kept commenting on how amazing tonight’s dinner was (myself included!). Will be storing this as a family favorite ❤️

    Not sure how the dutch oven helped, but I used one. The meat was so tender and every flavor melted together perfectly.5 stars

  3. Just made this chili – Lisa, you are right, it is BEST EVER. I didn’t change a thing except my husband is a hunter so its 1/2 venison and 1/2 beef. Thanks so much for the recipe, its a keeper!5 stars

  4. I just wanted to get on here and let you know that this past weekend we had chili cook off which my wife normally signs up for. BUT this year I decided to make my own chili which confused everyone, including my wife, so she asked “are you really making your own chili?” to which I responded “Heck yeah! and I’m gonna win!” She just rolled her eyes and laughed it off. Needless to say there was A LOT of trash talking while we were making our own chilis that day. Long story short, I was only looking to beat my wife in the competition but I ended up winning the whole thing! My wife won “most creative” which is a nice way of saying she lost. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this winning recipe!5 stars

    1. Omg, so funny! I’m thrilled you won with my chili recipe, woot! And hopefully you and your wife celebrated your respective wins together in good fun, haha. :)

  5. My wife was having a chili contest at church so I made this with elk burger. There was seven people that made chili and 34 people voting. One person has won it five years in a row. When all of the votes were done they said it wasn’t even close. Mine won by a landslide. Great recipe

  6. Found this on the web after loosing my old chili recipe. I don’t recall ever coming to this site, but I found this and read through and saw that it had all the staples I remember. Plus is is 1 pot simple. Wow, I am impressed! I did not add bacon, but I did add 1.5 tsp cayenne pepper (it really doesn’t add that much heat honestly, still kid friendly). Other than that, I made it as written (and I look forward to trying it with the bacon). Very nice. I’m going to check your site out more Lisa. Thanks for the recipe.5 stars

    1. Thanks so much, Joey! I’m happy you enjoyed this chili recipe. And I hope you enjoy many more recipes on my website!

  7. I made this recipe for dinner last night and it was absolutely delicious. We have leftover hamburgers and hotdogs frozen from a birthday party this summer, so chili dogs and burgers tonight for dinner. I use your directions for almond butter, thanks for that as California grows almonds! Carolyn5 stars

  8. This was really good! I added some pickled sweet jalapeños/banana peppers and that added a pleasant flavor to it all! I think this was my 4th chili recipe I’ve tried and definitely was the best tasting one of them!5 stars

    1. Love the addition of the pickled peppers! Thanks so much for your review Mike, I’m thrilled you loved it!

  9. Every single recipe that I’ve followed from this website has turned out great. In fact, it’s the most reliable recipe source that I use. I’ve made over 20 of Lisa’s dishes and they’re all crowd pleasers. Thanks Lisa!5 stars

    1. Aw, thanks so much, Joe! I’m so thrilled that you love so many of my recipes and keep coming back for more!

  10. I made this last week, and you are right… It is the best ever chili recipe! I used bacon as the recipe suggests and it is a game changer! It adds so much depth to the flavors of the chili itself! I will definitely continue to add a few slices of bacon in my chili pots in the future. Thanks for a recipe that I will keep in my regular rotation!

    1. I’d say most soups can be made in the slow cooker or instant pot. But, I haven’t tested them that way.

      1. I must say I Love this recipe too, making it now and can’t wait for it to be done, ready to get my chilli on.5 stars

  11. When I saw this recipe, I thought this would be a great way to switch up from traditional chili. My kids love chili but for this one, the bacon threw it off for them. They are their bowl and said it was delicious but no bacon next time.3 stars

  12. This looks delicious and I will cook it next time I make chilli instead of the recipe I have been using for years which includes a few pieces of dark chocolate. Will use fresh tomatoes from my garden which I have made into a thick sauce.

      1. I made this last night Lisa. Absolutely delicious even though I didn’t have a green pepper. I might well be throwing my old recipe in the recycling bin.5 stars

  13. This really is the best chili recipe I’ve tried to date. This is simple to make but the flavor is so good. I added a small hot pepper for a little more heat. This has become part of my regular soup rotation and I use SouperCubes to freeze my leftovers to use in lunches or other future meals. This recipe tastes the same when reheated.5 stars

    1. Happy to hear you’re loving this chili recipe, Judi! Great idea to store them in SouperCubes for future freezer meals.

  14. Made it as written and both my husband and I loved it!! To find such great recipes that are so healthy, is truly a blessing. Thank you!5 stars

  15. Loved It! Thanks for this. Would add more chili next time. Delicious and mild as suggested.
    Will make it again.
    MM

  16. Didn’t use bacon but substituted 1/2 of ground beef for chorizo. Agates a tablespoon of Worcester. Used crushed tomatoes and about 5 home grown small tomatoes. Was awesome!5 stars

  17. Wow, Lisa! Just tried this for dinner tonight. Your blend of seasonings is spot on for tastiness! I usually buy packaged chili seasoning but will never go back. The bacon is oh so delicious as well! Thank you!5 stars

  18. I’ve made this many many times and it always hits the right spots. Great for large batch meal-prepping too. Thank you Lisa for the easy-to-follow recipe!5 stars

  19. This was my first time making chili and I was so excited to use your recipe. I made it for dinner tonight and it turned out perfectly! It was delicious, and I even made extra to store in the freezer. I already knew I’d be obsessed with it. It’s so good!5 stars

  20. Flavor is very balanced, I added a little bit of Anchovy to add more depth. It turned out great! Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  21. Your chili recipes have become my go to chili base. I’ve found I like it with a poblano in place of the bell pepper. I always add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and only do one 14 oz can of tomatoes as we like a little less acidity. Tonight we made it with ground bison, sweet potato, and a smidgen of cinnamon. Delicious!5 stars

  22. Our favourite chili recipe! I make it a lot for my boyfriend’s parents and they love it! The four of us eat all 6 portions. Of course in that case I take the spiciness down a notch, and we also like sweet corn in it. 😋5 stars

  23. On a last minute whim looking for a quick easy chili recipe I found this one and wow was it good! The best part about it is that it isnt spicy hot at all (So if you like it hot you can add the peppers to taste) which made it a great chili for my 5 and 10 year old boys.5 stars

  24. I absolutely loved this recipe!!! The instructions were so easy to follow. It has all the perfect flavors and textures to complement the chili.5 stars

  25. Lisa: This chili checks all the boxes of yummy comfort food. It is So good.
    This will be my go to recipe for chili.
    Thanks Lisa.5 stars

  26. Never thought I would find a recipe of yours that we like more than Turmeric Chicken… but this might be the one. Adding it to football season’s Soup Sunday rotation, where it joins White Chicken Chili at the top! Thanks as always. 5 stars

  27. Husband wants to know – could you split the ground beef into half ground beef, half ground sausage? How do you think that would taste? He would love to try this as a three meat chili.