Easy Homemade Beef Chili

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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This classic homemade beef chili is incredibly easy, totally delicious, has the potential to make tons of leftovers, and will make the whole family happy!

a white bowl filled with beef chili topped with sour cream, green onion, and shredded cheese sitting on a marble surface

It’s no secret that I love a big bowl of chili! There’s just *something* about it that makes me feel so cozy and ready to snuggle in for the night with a good movie and my sweet little family. Bonus? My husband LOVES it and my sweet 1 year old does too (one of them requires an immediate bath afterward, though!). I also really love that a big pot of chili will last us for DAYS…that means leftovers for lunch or dinner – whichever mama needs a little bit of help with that week!

What ingredients go into chili?

The ingredients needed for chili are relatively simple. The most important thing when it comes to chili? BOLD spices. That’s what makes chili…well, chili. Here’s exactly what you’ll need to add to your grocery list for this homemade beef chili:

  • Ground Beef – to start, you’ll need 2 pounds of ground beef. Read all about why we always opt for grass-fed and grass-finished ground beef here.
  • Bacon – to up the flavor a little bit and make this chili really *special*, you'll also want to grab 8 ounces of bacon and give it a quick chop.
  • Onion & Garlic – 1/2 of a large onion (or about a 1/2 cup of chopped onion) and 4 cloves of minced garlic will also add some really delicious depth to the chili.
  • Beef Broth – in addition to the above ingredients, you'll also need 2 cups (or 16 ounces) of beef broth.
  • Tomatoes – 6 ounces of tomato paste and a 15.5-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes.
  • Beans – 3, 15.5-ounce cans of beans! We used 1 can of pinto beans, 1 can of black beans, and 1 can of red kidney beans here, but you can use any variety.
  • Spices – 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper will really bring our chili to life!

all of the ingredients for homemade beef chili (bacon, beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, beans, onion, garlic, and spices) sitting in separate clear glass bowls on a marble surface

What’s the best secret ingredient for chili?

I have three! Is that allowed? The three secret ingredients here are…

  1. Cumin – this is a *must*. A chili made without cumin just isn’t chili in my book. It really is such a signature spice for this wonderfully warm, delicious meal.
  2. Chili powder – I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but using a mild chili powder (and a good amount of it) is *key* to a really delicious chili. So, yes, the ingredients list is correct…you really do need 3 tablespoons of chili powder here! More on chili powder below!
  3. Diced tomatoes + tomato paste – don't add too much tomato sauce to your chili. Instead, use a combination of diced tomatoes and tomato paste; this will allow it to thicken and feel more like a chili and less like a meat sauce.

Let's Talk Chili Powder

This beef chili recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of chili powder. If you grab ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder, or something of the like and put 3 tablespoons of that in your chili, your mouth is going to be on FIRE! Instead, look for a mild chili powder blend, and if you can't find that, smoked paprika is going to be your best bet.

ground beef, chopped onion, chopped bacon, and garlic sitting in a large red pot on the stovetop
a measuring cup of beef broth being added to a large red pot of bean and beef chili
browned ground beef, bacon, onion, and garlic in a large pot with an assortment of spices added on top
finished ground beef chili in a large red pot on the stovetop

How do you make beef chili from scratch?

It’s really easy. You can do this! Here’s how to bring this chili together for dinner tonight:

  1. Brown the beef, bacon, onion, and garlic – heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the ground beef, chopped bacon, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Cook and crumble the ground beef mixture until the beef is browned and the bacon is cooked (this should take about 15 minutes).
  2. Add the spices – once the ground beef mixture is cooked and crumbled, add in the spices (chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, sea salt, and pepper), stir everything together, and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. This is really going to help deepen the flavor of your chili.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients + simmer – add in the beef broth, tomato paste, fire-roasted tomatoes, and beans, then stir the chili together until bubbling, and let it simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Garnish + enjoy!

What do you top chili with?

The possibilities are ENDLESS! My favorite toppings? Green onion, sour cream, and a generous sprinkling of sharp shredded cheese. Here are a few other topping ideas that would be really yummy:

  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Pickled (or fresh) jalapeños
  • Cilantro
  • Diced red onion
  • Diced avocado
  • Sliced olives
  • Shredded lettuce

a white bowl filled with beef chili topped with sour cream, green onion, and shredded cheese sitting on a marble surface

What do you serve chili with?

I usually serve chili one of two ways: over white rice (most often) or with a slice of cornbread (my personal favorite!). It’s also completely delicious served on its own!

Is chili better the longer it cooks?

Yes, chili is often better the longer it cooks, so let it simmer for a few hours if you have time. It is also often better the next day! Do know that if you don’t have time to let your chili simmer, it’s OK! It’s still going to be delicious and get the dinner job done beautifully.

Can you make chili in a Crockpot?

You can, but you’ll have to brown the ground beef first. If you put a big hunk of raw ground beef into your slow cooker, it’s going to come out as a big hunk of cooked ground beef (like a giant hamburger patty). For this reason, you’ll need to cook and crumble the ground beef BEFORE putting it into the slow cooker with the other ingredients.

Can you freeze chili?

YES, and gosh, what a lifesaver frozen chili can be! Just remember to let your chili come down to handling temperature before putting it into a container and sticking it in the freezer. Be sure to label your container with the contents (“chili”) and the date that you made it on, too.

What to do With Leftover Chili

SO MUCH can be done with leftover chili! Here are a few of our very favorite ideas:

  • Chili Casserole – mashed potatoes and chili are a MATCH made in heaven!
  • Frito Pie – crunchy chips, chili, and loads of toppings really make this a delicious, family (or party) friendly meal.
  • Stuffed Potatoes – stuff a baked white or sweet potato with leftover chili, then top it with all of your favorite toppings for a well-rounded, DELICIOUS lunch or dinner!
Print

Easy Homemade Beef Chili

a white bowl filled with beef chili topped with sour cream, green onion, and shredded cheese sitting on a marble surface

This beef chili is easy to make, packed with flavor, and perfect for feeding a crowd!

  • Author: Cassy Garcia
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 of a large onion (or about a 1/2 cup of chopped onion)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) beef broth
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1, 15.5-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 3, 15.5-ounce cans of beans (we used 1 can of pinto beans, 1 can of black beans, and 1 can of red kidney beans)
  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • Sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for garnish (optional)
  • Sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the ground beef, chopped bacon, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Cook and crumble the ground beef mixture until the beef is browned and the bacon is cooked, about 15 minutes.
  2. Once the ground beef mixture is cooked and crumbled, add in the spices (chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, sea salt, and pepper), stir everything together, and let it cook for 2-3 minutes until the spices are darkened slightly and fragrant.
  3. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, fire-roasted tomatoes, and beans to the pot, then stir the chili together until bubbling, and let it simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove the chili from heat, then garnish with the green onions, cheese, and sour cream and serve!

Keywords: chili, beef chili, ground beef chili, homemade chili, easy chili

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Recipe rating

  1. Suzanne says:

    Wow, this is so delicious! We made it as part of our super bowl spread (along with your cream cheese bacon dates). I only had 2 cans of beans, but it seemed to be okay without the 3rd. I also added corn because I’m weird haha. We loved the smoky flavor the bacon gives. Not too spicy. Overall great!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Awesome! Chili is the perfect game day food!!

  2. Sarah says:

    Absolute perfection! Bacon for the win! Excellent on its own, great with toppings too! Who knew chilli could be so amazing!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad you loved it, Sarah!! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  3. Celia says:

    Easily the best chili recipe I’ve ever made. SO dang good.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad to hear that, Celia! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  4. Jamie says:

    Amateur cook here…do you drain the beef/bacon after cooking, before adding the rest of the ingredients? I need all the instructions I can get! Thank you!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      We don’t, Jamie, but you totally can if you want to!

  5. Ashley says:

    This looks amazing! It’s only my husband, myself and our toddler, so I’m definitely making the whole batch and freezing half for the future! Also planning on using the instant pot saute + slow cook function and letting this go while I chase said toddler. Cannot wait to have dinner ready tonight!

  6. Jaime says:

    Sorry if I overlooked, but is the serving size one cup?