Quick and Easy Classic Chili Recipe

by Amy
15 servings
55 min

Do you have a craving for beef chili but don’t want to spend all day cooking? This Classic Chili recipe is quick and easy to make, with ingredients that are readily available. You can even freeze the leftovers!

Featuring ingredients like ground beef, onion, tomato, garlic, and the perfect blend of spices; this meaty chili will be perfect for your next get-together or family dinner. It’s sure to please everyone in the family, including the kids! Give it a try today and let us know what you think!

Bowl of Chunky Chili with with a spoon.
Why We Love This Perfect Chili

I know what you’re thinking, “Chili is just chili.” But this chili can make any day better. It’s like a hug in a bowl!

We love this dish because…

  1. It comes together so quickly.
  2. It freezes well.
  3. You can make as much as you want.
  4. It’s healthy.
  5. Your house will smell amazing.

The best part about this chili recipe is that it’s fast! It only takes 30 minutes to cook and the ingredients aren’t going to break the bank! You might even have a head start on what you need right in your pantry!

My kids really appreciate that this chili is not too spicy. Plus, it comes out thick and hearty making it a versatile meal in itself, or addition to recipes like chili cheese fries, or hot dogs.

Classic chili ingredients in glass bowls on a marble table.
Traditional Chili Ingredients

A traditional chili recipe is always packed with flavor and spices.

This traditional recipe uses ground beef and beans for protein, onions, and garlic for flavor, tomatoes for acidity, and spices like cumin and paprika to give it that extra kick. It can be made with any type of ground beef, pork, or turkey – but we prefer beef.

You’ll also need a beef broth base as well as diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and sauce. We love to add both red and dark kidney beans to our chili for variety and heartiness which stretches the meal to feed more.

Meaty Chili in a white Dutch oven.
How to Make Chili More Flavorful

So, you want to know how to make chili more flavorful? There are so many ways!

Add any of these ingredients for an extra-flavorful meal. We didn’t use all of these secret chili ingredients but wanted to share some options that might suit your taste buds.

  1. Cinnamon – A little bit goes a long way. Add it in with the onions and red pepper flakes at the beginning of cooking. It adds a nice flavor that is perfect for fall or winter dishes.
  2. Chipotle Pepper Sauce – This is my husband’s favorite addition to spruce up your dish! To avoid making things too spicy, I recommend adding this near the end of cooking as well as stirring it into your beans before serving.
  3. Freshly Pressed Garlic – Using freshly pressed garlic allows for the oils of the garlic to be released creating a more intense garlic flavor that complements the entire dish perfectly.
  4. Sugar – I am a huge fan of sweet and savory and do add a little sugar to my chili. While is certainly doesn’t make the overall dish sweet, it adds a nice balance to the spicy, savory component. You can use light brown or granulated sugar.
  5. Chocolate – One way to make it more flavorful is by adding in some dark chocolate. The chocolate will add depth of flavor and also give the chili an interesting twist! Add one ounce (or about 1/4 cup) of chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate into a saucepan and let it melt over medium heat; don’t stir until melted. Mix it into the chili near the end of cooking for a delicious flavor twist. **If you do not want to be too adventurous with the whole pot, try this flavor enhancer scaled down to one bowl to see if you like what it offers. Just add one teaspoon to a standard-sized bowl.
Meaty chili in a white Dutch oven with a white spoon.
Chili Ingredient Substitutions

Chili is so versatile. We love how there are no rules for making a perfect pot. You have a lot of freedom to substitute ingredients to fit any specific food restrictions or preferences you or your family may have. Here are some common substitutions.

  • Meat – Use ground pork, chicken, bison, or turkey instead of ground beef. You can also use a combination of all three!
  • Beans – If you do not have red or dark kidney beans on-hand you can use pinto, black beans, fava, great northern, or chickpeas. Want to skip beans altogether? Use lentils, split peas, chopped mushrooms, or even tofu!

Did you know that you can make chili without tomatoes? This Sweet and Smoky Pumpkin Chili recipe is tomato-free and is packed with a depth of sweet, savory, and smoky flavors! It’s made with pumpkin, which may sound strange, but it’s super tasty and you’d never guess there was pumpkin inside when eating it!

How to Make Homemade Chili Seasoning

If you do not have chili powder on hand you can make your own by mixing these dry ingredients together. Please note, these measurements will make more than you need for this recipe.

  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • Optional – Add 2 tablespoons of ground chile for flavor (it will make it spicy!)

Store leftovers in an airtight jar.

Pouring chili into a white crock.
What to Serve with Chili

When it comes to a Classic Chili, there are a lot of different ways to serve it. The most popular ways are the following:

  • Top it with sour cream, cheddar shreds, and red onion.
  • Serve it with crackers, or corn/tortilla chips in a crock.
  • Pour it on top of cheesy nachos.
  • Pair it with a cheese sauce over fries (Chili Cheese Fries).
  • Add it to the top of hot dogs to spice them up.
  • Add it to the top of a burrito bowl with all the fixings.
  • Serve in a crock with a crusty loaf of artisan bread. Our favorite is Sourdough from our Wildgrain Box.
Beef chili in a crock with a silver spoon.
Storing and Freezing Chili

Chili can be frozen in containers, freezer bags, or aluminum pans.

When freezing the chili in a container such as a glass jar, make sure to leave 1 inch of space at the top for expansion; if freezing in an aluminum pan or tin foil bag, leave 2 inches of space for expansion.

Never freeze chili with ingredients like cheese and onions because these items will likely cause mold growth during storage. Add those items after thawing and reheating the chili on your stovetop or microwave oven; this ensures that they are fresh, and your chili will taste best!

To store cooled chili in the refrigerator, add it to an airtight container and store it for up to 5 days for the best taste.

More Comfort Dishes to Try

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

Slow Cooker Tomato Feta Pasta

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Cheeseburger Casserole

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Quick and Easy Classic Chili Recipe
Recipe details
  • 15  servings
  • Prep time: 10 minutes Minutes Cook time: 45 minutes Minutes Total time: 55 min
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  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed *extract the most flavor
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes Do not drain*
  • 24 ounces tomato sauce (3, 8-ounce cans)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth *I used Better than Bouillon Beef paste with water.
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder *see note for homemade chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper sauce
  • 15 ounces red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounces dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed

On a stovetop, add the 2 pounds ground beef to the Dutch oven. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, and the ground, black pepper. Cook until browned, and drain any excess grease. 2 pounds ground beef, 1½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
Add the diced 1 large onion to the pot, and cook for about 4 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add in the freshly pressed 2 cloves garlic and cook for an additional minute.1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic
Add the 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes, 24 ounces tomato sauce, 6 ounces tomato paste, 1½ cups beef broth, remaining salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin , 2 teaspoons smoked paprika , and 1 tablespoon brown sugar . Simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes, 24 ounces tomato sauce, 6 ounces tomato paste, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1½ cups beef broth
Add in the rinsed, and drained 15 ounces red kidney beans , 15 ounces dark red kidney beans , and 1 teaspoon red pepper sauce Stir and continue cooking for 15 minutes; chili will begin to thicken. 1 teaspoon red pepper sauce, 15 ounces red kidney beans, 15 ounces dark red kidney beans
Taste chili and add more salt or pepper if needed. Serve while warm.
  • Nutritional values may vary and are meant to be a guide.
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
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