Easy Chili Recipe- The Best Homemade Chili (2024) (2024)

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Chili is a beloved dish in the winter months, and this easy homemade chili is a crowd-pleaser.

And if you’ve been searching for a good “standard” chili that everyone will like, look no further! This is it- and it’s easy!

My mom cut this easy chili recipe out of a newspaper in the early ’90s, and it’s been our ‘family chili’ recipe ever since.

From Super Bowl parties to chili cook-offs, chili is woven into the fabric of American winter culture. And for good reason, it’s awesome, and there are so many variations.

It’s perfect for any occasion, from game day gatherings to cozy nights at home. So grab your ingredients and get cooking – your taste buds will thank you!

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Cook Time:Low – 8 hours (slow cooker); Medium-High Heat – 1 hour (stovetop)
  • Main Ingredients:Ground Beef, red kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, onion, chili powder, cumin, and more.
  • Servings:8
  • Extras:Consider fun toppings, like avocado slices, tortilla chips, crushed corn chips, or a hot sauce drizzle.
  • Tip: Consider letting the slow cooker do all the work instead of standing in front of the stove for an hour! It makes dinner more effortless and I love it!

Easy Chili Recipe

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There might be a few ingredients you are’t used to seeing in chili, like cinnamon and chocolate chips (a Cincinnati chili influence), but trust me – they work!

This recipe is very similar to myCrockpot Chili Recipe, but there are minor differences so this dish works on the stovetop.

This means it can be ready to eat sooner but with more stirring and standing at the stove.

And like I said – this is easy. Chopping the onions and garlic is probably the hardest part.

Many recipes I checked out have garlic powder to skip some cutting meal prep. Garlic can be the most annoying, but fresh garlic has a better flavor than garlic powder!

One of the most important steps is to cook the onions as the ground beef cooks together to put that beef grease to good use.

After the onions are soft and the ground beef is cooked, add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.

Drain the ground beef, and then add everything else except for the kidney beans and simmer for an hour or so. And yeah – even add those chocolate chips and cinnamon (you will thank me).

Then add the kidney beans and cook for another half hour. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, serve cornbread ont he side, add in tortilla chips for dunking, or whatever you’d like!

Homemade Chili Recipe

Prep Time20 minutes mins

Cook Time1 hour hr

Total Time1 hour hr 20 minutes mins

Servings: 8

Author: Brittany Kline


  • 2 lbs. ground beef or turkey
  • 1 can of red kidney beans rinsed (15 oz)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 oz
  • 1 can of water 28 oz
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper optional - depends on how spicy you want it
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp chocolate chips


  • Over medium heat, cook beef in a large pan with the minced onion until browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

  • Drain the meat.

  • In a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium heat, add meat (with the onions and garlic) and mix with all other remaining ingredients except the kidney beans.

  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until you've reached the desired thickness (or if using a slow cooker, cook on high for 4 hours).

  • Add kidney beans and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

  • Top with shredded cheese & sour cream and serve with a side of cornbread.

Recipe Substitutions

Flexibility is the spice of life – and of good chili! The beauty of this recipe is in its adaptability.

The best chili recipes are the ones that suit your taste buds, so don’t hesitate to get creative!

From swapping the meats to trying new toppings, here are some recipe substitutions you can make:

The Meat

Ground beef is the classic chili meat, but it does tend to be greasy and heavy- plus, not everyone eats meat!

If you’re not a fan of ground beef or are looking for a healthier ground meat alternative, ground turkey or chicken are excellent substitutes that still maintain their heartiness.

For a vegetarian twist, try using tofu, Beyond Meat, and other meat alternatives to give the dish a heartiness or good texture like traditional chili.

The Sauce

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I love making easy swaps that can make a dish quicker and more flavorful- and tomato sauce is a thing of beauty to give chili that rich tomato flavor!

Instead of just canned crushed or diced tomatoes, you can swap them for your favorite tomato sauce. or any leftover homemade sauce you have in the fridge or freezer.

If you pick a tomato sauce that’s already seasoned, you can reduce the amount of food you put in the slow cooker unless you want a stronger taste in your chili.

I do recommend having at least 20 oz of sauce- that way you have a thick chili without any liquid that makes it a tiny bit soupy.

Also, to make sure your sauce has that chili taste to it, make sure you don’t skip the chili powder or Worcestershire sauce.

The other big part of the sauce is water- I fill up the empty tomato can when I’m done, so I add about 28 oz.

If you want to add more flavor or more protein you can add beef broth. If you add beef broth, the dish may be a bit saltier, so be sure to taste and adjust the seasonings as you like.

The Beans

When it comes to beans, the world is your oyster!

While kidney beans (cantelinni beans) and red kidney beans are traditional, feel free to mix it up with black beans, pinto beans, or even a combination of your favorites for a multi-textured bite.

I tend to mix white and red kidney beans- depending on what’s on sale or already in the cupboard!

The Toppings

Toppings too, can be customized to taste and dietary preferences.

While cheese is a classic, consider avocado slices for a touch of creaminess or a dollop of yogurt as a healthier alternative to sour cream.

Fresh cilantro, chopped onions, or sliced jalapeños can add color and a kick of freshness to each bowl.

And for those that like more kick? Hot sauce drizzled on the top or a little dash of extra chili powder, with some bread to dip, is perfect for game day.


Is this chili freezer-friendly?

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It’s also easy to cook your chili ahead of time and freeze it for meal prep. Simply let it cool completely before transferring to a bag and freezing.

When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. You can also freeze individual portions for easy meal prep.

Can I make this chili vegetarian?

To make a vegetarian version of this chili, simply omit the ground beef and use a plant-based ground meat alternative or add extra beans and vegetables.

You might also need to increase the spices slightly to compensate for the lack of meat flavor.

How can I make this chili spicier?

If you prefer your chili with a bit more heat, you can add extra chili powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper, or diced jalapeños to the recipe.

I usually add a little chili powder and seasonings to the ground beef after I’ve drained the grease, and I definitely start small! You can always add more but I can’t take back too much spice.

For jalapenos, start small and add some of the canned juice for flavor without much spice.

You can also serve the chili with hot sauce on the side for those who like it extra spicy.

Can I make this chili thicker?

For a thicker beef chili, you can add tomato paste and reduce how much water you add when the ground beef and onions are done.

I usually dump the can of crushed or diced tomatoes in and then fill that can with water- so that’s about 28 oz.

That can seem like a lot if it doesn’t evaporate as the chili cooks, so the tomato paste thickens things up without losing the flavor.

What are some toppings that go well with this chili?

Some popular toppings to serve with this chili include shredded cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, chopped green onions, and crumbled cornbread.

If you think things need more kick, feel free to sprinkle more chili powder on top to mix in for more spice.

Kelan is also a chip fan, so you can try some corn chips for dipping or crush up sour cream and onion potato chips to give a little crunch with a seasoning that goes great with chili.

Can this recipe be used for crock pot chili?

Yes, this chili recipe can also be easily adapted for the crockpot.

Simply brown the meat and saute the onion on the stove, then add them both to the slow cooker when they’re done.

Add the canned crushed or diced tomatoes, beans, water, and seasonings/condiments on top.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

You can also prep the ingredients ahead of time and freeze them in a freezer bag to make it even easier to throw together in the crockpot on a busy day.

Final Thoughts

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There you have it, a simple yet delicious homemade chili recipe that carries the warmth of home and the richness of tradition.

This recipe, interwoven with memories and tailored with unique ingredients like cinnamon and chocolate chips, proves that comfort food can also be a canvas for creativity and new flavors.

Whether it’s gathering around the table for a family meal or enjoying a bowl while cheering on your favorite team, this chili is more than just a dish- it’s an experience.

I hope you enjoy making it as much as we do, finding both the process and the final dish a source of joy and warmth in the cold winter months.

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Easy Chili Recipe- The Best Homemade Chili (2024) (2024)


What is the secret to really good chili? ›

Only Add Flavorful Liquids

Instead of adding water to your chili, add some more flavor with chicken or beef broth, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or even beet or wine. Each one of these options brings out different notes and levels of sweetness that will enhance your culinary creation.

What makes chili even better? ›

You can always add additional spices to taste, but this could give you a solid foundation to work from. Try adding spices like paprika, chili powder, cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, cayenne, or even chipotle.

How to make the best chili? ›

How to Make The Best Chili
  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. ...
  4. Toast the spices. ...
  5. Add the tomatoes, broth, and beans. ...
  6. Simmer the chili.
Dec 15, 2023

Why do you put vinegar in chili? ›

With only about 1 tablespoon per pot added toward the end of the cooking process, the vinegar will make the flavors more vibrant without overwhelming the dish with its biting tang. Through just a splash, everything becomes a little brighter, and the chili's flavors are more balanced.

Does sugar make chili taste better? ›

Now for the piece de resistance: 1-2 heaping Tablespoons brown sugar. The chili tastes completely different without the brown sugar so if you like a subtle sweetness in your chili then you've just got to go for it! Trust me, it will not make your chili taste like candy.

What adds the most flavor to chili? ›

If you want more of a smoky flavor, add cumin, Spanish paprika, ancho chili powder, or a combination. If you are looking for more heat, add cayenne, crushed red pepper, or Hungarian paprika. If it's too spicy add a little brown sugar and some sweet paprika.

What is the most important spice in chili? ›

Most Common Chili Spices. Cumin, Chile Powders, and Paprika are the most common spices in chili followed by garlic, onion, coriander, Mexican oregano, and bay leaves. These ingredients can be combined to create a savory and well-balanced pot of top notch comfort food.

Does chili taste better the longer you simmer it? ›

Not so fast. While all that time on the stovetop or in the slow cooker has made for a deep, spiced aroma, the long cook time often results in a flat flavor that benefits from some acidity to perk it up.

What are the best beans to use for homemade chili? ›

The best beans for chili are pinto, kidney, and black beans, like in this easy and tasty recipe. This 3-bean chili freezes great for meals later in the week. If you prefer thinner chili, add an extra can of tomato sauce. The green chiles are not hot and add a wonderful flavor, so don't be afraid to use them.

What herbs go best in chili? ›

Best Herbs And Spices For Chilli Con Carne
  • Smoked paprika. Smoked paprika is an essential spice in any chilli recipe. ...
  • Ground cumin. It's hard to imagine Mexican chilli con carne without cumin. ...
  • Garlic powder. ...
  • Onion powder. ...
  • Oregano. ...
  • Marjoram. ...
  • Ground coriander. ...
  • Chilli powder.

Do you drain beans for chili? ›

However, canned beans are soaked in a canning liquid that can throw off your dish's seasoning and texture, so it's best to drain and rinse your beans before pouring them into your pot of chili. Canning liquid can also water down and dilute the flavors of your chili.

What is chili magic? ›

Bush's Chili Magic Campfire Style chili starter brings tender pinto beans together with smoky chipotle and green bell peppers for quick, unforgettable chili any night of the week.

Does Wendy's put sugar in their chili? ›

Chili Concentrate: Chili Sauce (Water, Tomato Juice, Tomatoes, Calcium Chloride, Seasoning (Sugar, Salt, Corn Starch, Dried Chilies, Spices, Flavor Enhancer [Dextrose, Salt, Yeast Extract, Silicon Dioxide, Modified Corn Starch], Citric Acid, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Xanthan gum), Beans (Pink Beans, Red ...

Why do you put butter in chili? ›

Butter smooths out the bitterness and adds its unique richness, making you take another bite without quite knowing why. A dash of sugar and vinegar gives a sweet-sour flavor that also makes the sauce rounder and more satisfying.

What makes the best chili meat? ›

When making chili, former Southern Living Test Kitchen Director, Robby Melvin, recommends using a mix of ground chuck and ground sirloin. "It's the best of both worlds," he says. "You get a balanced lean-to-fat ratio from the chuck and the hearty, beefy leanness from the sirloin."

What is the most flavorful meat for chili? ›

What is the best meat for chili? The best meat for chili depends on the type you're making, but professionals generally use a combination of ground chuck, brisket, short ribs, or diced tri-tip sirloin mixed with bacon and sausage to layer multiple textures and flavors.

Why is my chili not flavorful? ›

Change up the beans. Use black beans, pintos, or a combination of beans to give more flavor. Cook the chili! If you don't cook it long enough (or put in a pressure cooker to speed up the process), it won't taste quite right.

How do you make chili taste more meaty? ›

In a pot of chili, just a few strips of bacon add a smoky, meaty depth. And it's not just the bacon itself that adds flavor, it's the bacon fat, too. Before you start your recipe, cook 3 to 4 strips of thick-cut bacon until they're as crispy as you like.


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