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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!
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!
What’s the best secret ingredient for chili?
I have three! Is that allowed? The three secret ingredients here are…
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Diced red onion
- Diced avocado
- Sliced olives
- Shredded lettuce
Just for You
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Beef Chili Frequently Asked Questions
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove the chili from heat, then garnish with the green onions, cheese, and sour cream and serve!