Classic Beef Chili

Updated: Dec 16th, 2023 · By Bethany Kramer
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This classic stovetop beef chili (also known as chili con carne) is our weekly go-to during soup season! It’s hearty, filling, and layered with the perfect zesty flavor that’s balanced with a hint of spice. We love serving this chili with some melted cheese on top and even some sour cream alongside our honey cornbread or homemade sourdough!

A hand holding a spoon in a bowl of chili. There's fresh cilantro on top of the chili and the bowl has cornbread on a board and another bowl of chili placed around it.

We make this chili so much! It’s become a favorite in our house and is a recipe that never gets old. Come winter, when we’re craving a comforting meal, we make this chili every week, if not every other. Drew says it’s his favorite chili recipe, and I have to agree with him!

Chili con carne is the traditional name for chili, which translates simply to chili and meat. So, in this delicious bowl, you’ll find just that – a little bit of chili spice, ground beef, along with beans, and a zesty tomato broth. It’s quick to make, yet developed with the perfect amount of flavor – nothing too spicy, but just the right amount of heat.

Recipe Highlights

We love this beef chili for lots of reasons, but some of our favorite reasons is it’s…

HEARTY AND FILLING. You don’t need many side dishes with this chili. Because it has so much protein from the beef and beans, it’s a meal all in one bowl and is plenty filling on its own!

QUICK YET FLAVORFUL. This recipe is fast to make and doesn’t need much simmering time. Yet the flavor is perfect and zesty, without needing much time to develop.

PERFECT FOR FEEDING A CROWD. Chili is a great dish to make when you need to feed a crowd. It’s low maintenance, so you can host and have the meal ready to serve whenever. You can also make it in advance, then heat it when you need to serve it. Which in return gives you more time with family and less time cooking or cleaning up in the kitchen!

Key Ingredients

The best thing about chili, is it’s filled with many pantry staples and seasonings. Find the list of ingredients you’ll need below!

Ingredients for beef chili arranged in different sized bowls and platers around a wooden cutting board.

Beef: ground beef is used as the main protein.
Tomatoes: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes are ideal for a smoky flavor, but regular or crushed tomatoes also work.
Beans: every chili recipe needs to have beans, and this recipe uses two types – kidney and white navy beans. But you can use almost any bean you like!
Yellow onion: to flavor the base of the chili.
Garlic (fresh + powder): I layered this chili with fresh garlic cloves and powder to really pack on the flavor. Don’t worry. It’s not too garlicky, but perfectly seasoned!
Tomato paste: to help thicken the chili.
Chicken stock/broth: this adds some liquid to the chili. I use my homemade chicken stock!
Seasoning: to add the chili flavor, this recipe is seasoned with a blend of chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, paprika, and a pinch of cayenne, along with salt & black pepper.

How to Make Chili

A collage of three images showing how to make beef chili. The first image, step one, is showing a wooden spoon stirring diced onions in a black cast iron pot. The second image, step two, is ground beef being browned in the same black pot with a wooden spoon. The third image, step three, is the beans, tomatoes, and broth being added to the pot with the ground beef and onions.
  1. 1

    Sauté the onions and garlic. In a large pot, sauté the diced onions in oil for 3-4 minutes, or until soft. Then add minced garlic for 30-60 seconds.

  2. 2

    Cook the beef. Then add the ground beef and cook until its fully browned and no longer pink. When it’s cooked, add the spices and salt and stir in with the ground beef.

  3. 3

    Add the remaining ingredients. Then add the beans, tomatoes, paste, and chicken broth.

  1. 4

    Simmer. Stir all the ingredients together, and partly cover. Cook on a gently simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. 5

    Taste and serve. When the chili is finished, taste and add any additional salt or black pepper then serve!

Chili Toppings

Chili is flavorful all on its own, but to change up the flavor, you can add so many delicious toppings! Such as…

Cheese. Shredded cheddar cheese or any melty cheese can be sprinkled on top of the hot bowl of chili!
Sourcream. This is perfect paired with spicier chili because it cools down the heat.
Jalapenos slices. If you are all about packing on the heat, you can add slices of jalapeno peppers on top!
Cilantro. Fresh cilantro is the perfect pop of freshness to top chili with!

Recipe Variations

If you want to switch up the flavors, this chili is a great base to start with. From adding vegetables to additional seasonings for more zesty flavor and spice!

Add chipotle peppers. For a more chipotle chili flavor, you can add one pepper to the chili, finely chopped.

Add more vegetables. Adding bell pepper to a chili is quite common. You can do green, yellow, or red bell peppers. You can also add fire-roasted corn for a little Tex-Mex flavor.

For a smoky flavor. If you want a little bit of a smoky flavor, you can use smoked paprika instead of regular.

Change the protein. Ground meat works best for chili because of its bite-size. Beef is the most popular option for chili, but you can also use ground turkey or chicken (ground or breast/thighs cut into small pieces).

Types of beans to use in chili. While kidney beans are a popular choice for chili recipes, you can also use a handful of other beans, such as white navy or cannellini, pinto, garbanzo, or black beans.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Keep leftovers fresh. Chili leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, preferably in an airtight container.

Reheat leftovers. I recommend reheating chili on the stovetop in a pot. You can add a splash of chicken broth if it’s too thick. I personally don’t own a microwave, but you can also use that for reheating.

Freeze it. Chili is a great freezer-friendly meal! Cool it completely, then add it to ziplock bags (air removed) and lay it flat in the freezer. Thaw in cold water or at room temperature, then reheat on the stovetop until warm.

What to Serve with Chili

Beef chili is a satisfying and filling meal all on its own, so typically, you wouldn’t need sides to pair with it. However, some things go so perfectly with chili that we can’t resist. Such as…

Cornbread. Chili and cornbread are a classic pair and one that I absolutely love. We often make this chili alongside our healthier honey cornbread. So good.

Homemade bread. If we don’t serve this chili with cornbread, we will typically serve it with homemade sourdough or our rosemary garlic bread! But, any crusty bread works, too.

Rice. Growing up, we always served our chili over rice! Since it’s a thick stew, the rice was the perfect vessel for it. If you’ve never tried it, it’s so delicious. Especially paired with some melty cheddar cheese on top! Mmm.

Baked potatoes. You can also serve chili with something like a loaded baked potato or potato skins for a healthier carb!

Two white bowls with beef chili in them. Around the bowls are pieces of corned bread on a wooden board, a dark gray napkin, and a small bowl of red pepper flakes. Everything is arranged on a tan-colored background.

More Chili Recipes to Try

If you love this beef chili, you might also enjoy our three-bean ground turkey chili, sweet potato black bean chili, slow cooker chicken chili, or this chicken taco soup with similar flavors!

Classic Beef Chili

5 from 1 vote
This classic beef chili is our weekly go-to during soup season! It's hearty, filling, and layered with the perfect zesty flavor that's balanced with a hint of spice. We love serving this chili with some melted cheese on top and even some sour cream alongside our honey cornbread or homemade sourdough!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Serves 6


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted or regular
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 14 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14 oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chicken stock



  • Saute the onion and garlic: In a large pot, saute the diced onions in olive oil for 3-4 minutes with a pinch of salt. Then add the minced garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds.
  • Cook the ground beef: Cook the ground beef with the onions and garlic until every piece is browned and no longer pink. Then add all the seasonings in with the beef and stir together.
  • Add the remaining ingredients: Next, add the tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, and chicken stock. Stir all the ingredients together.
  • Simmer: Partly cover the pot, and cook on a gentle simmer for 25 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  • Serve: When the chili is finished, taste it, and season with any additional salt until the flavor is just right. Then serve and enjoy!


Keep leftovers fresh. Chili leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, preferably in an airtight container.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword beef chili, chili recipe
Freezer Friendly Yes


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 46.5g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 6.4g | Saturated Fat: 1.6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2.4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 46.4mg | Sodium: 1226mg | Fiber: 11.3g | Sugar: 10.1g | Vitamin A: 14IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Iron: 44mg

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did chili originate from? Most food historians believe chili originated in towns that bordered Texas and Mexico. So it has both American and Mexican influence!

What is in traditional chili? Typically, you’ll find just ground red chili peppers, meat, and tomatoes, with additional vegetables and seasonings in traditional chili. Although many cooks, including myself, love to include beans, they are not an ingredient found in most traditional chili recipes!

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