Our family’s favorite comfort food is our Best Chili Recipe! Loaded with beef and secret spices, it’s a hearty crowd-pleaser and a go-to week nigh dinner! This homemade chili recipe has been passed down three generations, and it’s super easy to make! It also is freezer-friendly!
It’s still in the upper 70s here, but I bought the stuff to make chili this week because Jake loves it so much. It’s a staple of our fall just like pumpkins and football games. Luckily, it’s really easy to make, pretty affordable, and lasts a few nights!
I will admit – this is probably a basic chili recipe, but I love how simple and hearty it is! It’s also competed in chili competitions around Nashville and placed in the top 3! So it’s definitely doing something right!
I think it’s the best chili recipe and so loved because it reminds people of their mom’s and grandmother’s cooking! Plus, it just warms the soul on a chilly day and is the perfect tailgating food!
This best chili recipe is super quick to put together, but I do recommend letting it simmer for at least 2 hours, and it really just gets better the longer is simmers. Simmering it allows it to thicken up and lets the flavors blend together. (Usually the 2nd day leftovers are even better than the first night!)
I hope you love this thick, chunky, and slightly spicy chilly this Fall and Winter!
How do you make chili flavorful?
One of the reasons people love our homemade chili recipe is because we use ground beef with about 15% fat. We drain the fat when we’re browning the meat, but we don’t skim any fat off the top that was miss. This gives it a great flavor, and if you’ll let it simmer for 2 hours, the flavor of the chili just improves!
Do you drain beans for chili?
We use both red kidney beans and chili beans in our homemade chili recipe. We drain the red kidney beans, but we don’t drain the chili beans. The reason is because the chili beans already have seasoning in them, and we want to include that flavor and spice.
What kind of meat should you use in homemade chili?
Traditionally, chili is made with beef or pork. We’ve tried chicken before, but it just doesn’t offer the same comforting flavors.
Our favorite meat to use in homemade chili is 85/15 ground beef. The fat content packs this best chili recipe with flavor, and it’s also more affordable than something like bison or a leaner piece of beef.
Do I have to use meat?
Nope! You could just use your canned beans, tomatoes, and frozen onions to make this a pantry-ready recipe!
What Do You Put in The Best Chili Recipe?
Our best chili recipe is super simple because it came from my grandmother. She worked full-time and still managed to get dinner on the table for her family of 4. So you’ll notice the ingredients are super simple — don’t let that fool you into thinking basic though!
- 1 lb 85/15 Ground Beef
- 1 14.5 oz can of kidney beans
- 2 14.5 oz can of mild, medium, or hot chili beans
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp red pepper (cayenne pepper)
- Salt & Red Pepper to taste
How Do You Make the World’s Best Chili Recipe?
First, you’ll want to brown your chopped onion and ground beef. We like to use a large stock pot, like this one.
We brown the onion and beef over medium-high heat until the beef is cooked. We also drain any excess fat using a measuring cup or spoon.
Then, we mix in the diced and whole tomatoes. You don’t need to drain these; the liquid will help give the chili some stock and a tomato flavor. Then, you’ll add in your chili beans. (Don’t drain those either).
Drain your kidney beans and add to the mixture.
Stir everything together, and then add in your seasonings – chili powder, red pepper, salt, and pepper.
Mix everything together well and bring the chili to a boil. Once it’s boiled, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 to 2 hours.
Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado, or any of your favorite toppings!
How Long Should Chili Cook?
We always let our chili simmer for 1 to 2 hours minimum.
How Do You Thicken Chili Up?
You can thicken your chili up by letting it simmer longer. If you don’t have time to let it simmer, you can also add in a little cornmeal or cornstarch to thicken it.
What Do You Top Homemade Chili With?
One of my favorite things to serve during football season is chili. I just make a huge pot of it, and then everyone can top their bowl with whatever they like! Here are a few ideas:
- shredded cheddar cheese
- sour cream
- club crackers
- sliced avocado
- cornbread (we love this skillet cornbread!)
- spaghetti noodles
- chopped green onions
Can you make chili ahead of time?
Absolutely! If I have time, I like to cook my chili the day before we will eat it. This allows me to let it simmer for longer which I think really boosts the flavor and thickens it up!
Also – I know cooking something on the stove isn’t always great for a party. So sometimes I’ll make my chili the day before and then toss it into a crockpot on warm during a party!
You can also always freeze any leftovers!
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Can you freeze chili?
Totally! This best chili recipe makes a lot, and I love being able to store it in the refrigerator during the week. It lasts about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
After that, you can freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag. The day before you want to eat it, just place the container or bag in the refrigerator. Then reheat over the stove or in a crockpot.
What is a good side dish with chili?
Along with all of the amazing toppings you can put on chili, there are a few side dishes that go great with it as well!
What is your favorite chili recipe, or are you trying this one out?
I promise – it may look easy, but it’s SO good!
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- 1 lb 85/15 Ground Beef
- 14.5 oz can of kidney beans
- 29 oz can of chili beans, mild, medium, or hot
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 29 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp red pepper, (cayenne pepper)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Brown your chopped onion and ground beef. Drain any excess fat using a measuring cup or spoon.
- Mix in the diced and whole tomatoes. You don't need to drain these; the liquid will help give the chili some stock and a tomato flavor. Then, you'll add in your chili beans. (Don't drain those either).
- Drain your kidney beans and add them into the mixture.
- Stir everything together, and then add in your seasonings - chili powder, red pepper, salt, and pepper.
- Mix everything together well and bring the chili to a boil.
- Bring to a boil then let simmer on low heat 2-4 hours either on the stove top or a crockpot.
- Serve hot with your choice of toppings.
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 1535mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 12gSugar: 14gProtein: 26g