This hearty homestyle chili is loaded with ground beef, beans, and tomatoes all simmered together in chili spices and is sure to warm you up on a cold winter day.
What exactly is chili?
Chili is a controversial dish. There are many different ideas around the country of what is and isn't chili. In Texas it's stewed chunks of beef in a spicy chili sauce and no tomatoes or beans. In Cincinnati they have a sweeter style chili with allspice, cinnamon and cocoa and serve it over spaghetti and there are many other regional variations. Some with beans, some with tomatoes, Some with both, and some are even green. Some are thick and hearty stews with little to no liquid added, some are more of a meat sauce, and others are closer to soup. In Illinois they even spell it differently, with two l's!
Why this recipe works
Homestyle chili is a basic chili with ground beef and beans cooked in a beefy and broth with chili spices. My classic homestyle chili has ground beef, tomatoes and 3 types of beans. It can be made in around 45 minutes for a quick weeknight meal or slow simmered to develop the flavors if you have more time. Chili tastes even better the next day, so I usually make a double batch so we have plenty of leftovers and some to freeze for later too.
For this recipe the prep work is minimal. Just chop your onion, green pepper, and garlic, and open a few cans. The cooking itself is pretty minimal as well but there are a few keys to build the flavor.
Tips for a more flavorful chili
- Cook your onions and green pepper until the onion is tender and translucent and beginning to caramelize.
- Add your garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to burn it.
- Season the ground beef well before browning to add flavor to the meat.
- Cook the tomato paste until it darkens to cook off some of the acidity and bring out the rich umami flavor.
- For the best flavor use a good quality chili powder for your chili. I use Spice Islands brand. Flavors can vary widely from mild and sweet to smokey and spicy, so experiment until you find one you love. You can also try making your own chili powder at home!
The extra attention at each step will ensure a flavorful and result with no undercooked veggies or bland beef. If you have the time, simmering the chili slowly for an hour or more will allow the flavors to develop further as well.
Variations on this basic chili
- You can switch out the ground beef for ground turkey or leave out the meat altogether.
- I like a mix of beans in my chili for variety, but you can stick with one type of add additional varieties.
- You can also add additional veggies if you like. Sometimes I leave out the kidney beans and add corn and black beans for a different twist.
- Try out different spices like a touch of cinnamon, ground cloves, or allspice. Mexican chocolate is another good choice for a more complex chili.
Toppings for chili
I like to top my classic homestyle chili with a bit of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. Other great toppings for chili include diced avocado, chopped onions, or Frito's for a little crunch.
Chili Tips and FAQs
Chili goes great with fresh homemade cornbread or a gooey grilled cheese sandwich on the side. Crackers, tortilla chips, or Frito's are also great to add some crunch.
The flavor of chili is often better the next day since the flavors have more time to combine. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To serve, reheat over medium heat until warmed through.
Yes, chili freezes beautifully! Let it cool completely to room temperature then ladle into a resealable plastic freezer bag or freezer safe container. Store for up to 3 months.
When ready to use, let thaw in the refrigerator then reheat over medium heat until warmed through.
- 1½ lbs lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ½ cup diced green pepper
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 2 cups beef broth, or water
- 1 15 oz can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp + 1tsp chili powder, divided
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- salt, to taste
- In large pot add oil then add onion and green pepper and cook until onion is translucent.
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Season the ground beef with 1 tsp of you chili powder and salt and brown, then drain fat and return to pot.
- Make clearing in the middle of the pot and add tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute stirring frequently to avoid burning.
- Add tomatoes, broth, beans, and spices then stir to combine.
- Let simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.