With its hearty chunks of ground beef and tomato, warm seasonings and classic rustic charm, this easy chili recipe is pretty much the ultimate comfort food. Curl up with a steaming bowl of this flavorful chili whenever you need a simple dinner idea that’s perfect for chilly weeknights.
The Best Easy Chili Recipe You’ll Ever Make
What meal does a better job warming you up on a cold day than a steaming bowl of homemade chili? It’s filling and flavorful – the kind of meal that sticks to your ribs. The hearty chunks and blend of familiar spices offer a comforting experience that you just can’t get anywhere else.
The simplicity of this meal makes it a whole lot healthier than a lot of other classic comfort foods. It’s full of vitamins and minerals from the veggies, and protein from the beans. And without any toppings or add-ins, this chili is gluten-free and dairy-free. With a vegetarian option, pretty much no dietary restrictions can stop you from enjoying it.
This easy chili recipe is one of my family’s favorite weeknight dinner ideas!
This chili is full of rich seasoning and hearty ingredients. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card below to find the exact amounts.
- Ground Beef
- Onion: Diced.
- Diced Tomatoes: Don’t drain them, since the liquid adds flavor and fullness to the broth.
- Kidney Beans: Drain and rinse.
- Black Beans: Both kinds of beans should be drained and rinsed.
- Tomato Sauce: Use your favorite brand.
- Chili Powder
- White Sugar
- Cajun Seasoning
- Salt and Pepper
How to Make Chili
With just 4 easy steps, recipes don’t get much simpler than this. In less than half an hour, your chili will be ready for the table.
Brown the Beef: Sauté the onions and brown the ground beef together in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Cook them until the onions are tender and the beef is no longer pink, then drain any excess grease from the pan.
Add the Other Ingredients: Throw in the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, tomato sauce and water. Season the mixture with chili powder, sugar, Cajun seasoning blend, salt and pepper. Stir your chili until everything has fully combined.
Cook Down: Bring the pan to a boil, cover it, reduce the heat and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes. Stir the chili occasionally to avoid anything sticking to the bottom.
Let Cool and Serve: Once the liquid has cooked down significantly and the broth thickens, take the chili off the heat. Let it cool and portion it out into 6 equal servings.
Tips for this Easy Chili Recipe
This easy chili recipe has been devoured every time I’ve made it. Here are some quick tips to make sure you can make the perfect bowl of chili in your kitchen:
- Go With Lean Beef: If you want to save on time, use lean ground beef and skip draining the fat. This can help make your chili just that little bit healthier.
- Don’t Take It Off Too Soon: Make sure you don’t rush to get the pan off the stove. The longer the chili cooks, the more time the flavors have to blend together. You don’t want to push the temperature too high too fast.
- Control the Consistency: Add more water if you prefer a soupier chili, or less water if you want it to be thicker. The longer you cook it, the more water will evaporate, giving you a chunkier chili.
Add-Ins & Variation Ideas
The best thing about this chili is the simplicity of the recipe. Still, there are plenty of ways to tap into your culinary creativity.
- Switch Out the Meat: If you want to go with something leaner, or you’re looking to cut back on the red meat, switch the beef out with ground turkey, chicken or pork instead. For even bolder flavor, you can try your favorite ground sausage.
- Kick Up the Heat: There are a few different ways you can ramp up the spice level in this chili. Try adding a can of diced green chilis, or throw in some cayenne powder. You can also try chopping up some fresh jalapeño peppers. Keep the seeds in to add even more heat.
- Make It Vegetarian or Vegan: With a few tweaks, you can make this chili meat-free. Instead of cooking the onions with the beef fat, just use olive oil. You can add extra veggies to make it just as hearty and chunky as the beef version. Add in some potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, zucchini or mushrooms. Feel free to try out any firm vegetable you can think of. In terms of making this chili vegan, just use a vegan cheese or sour cream for your toppings.
What Goes Well With Homemade Chili?
When it comes to sides for a nice hearty chili, you can’t go wrong with cornbread. Make the classic version, or try this Mexican Cornbread if you’re feeling more adventurous. You can also spoon this chili over a baked potato, hot dog or plate of cheese fries. It also makes a great side for sandwiches, like this Brisket Grilled Cheese.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Pop any leftover chili into an airtight container and stick it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can reheat it over the stove until it starts to bubble, or microwave it in a covered container at 30-second intervals. If anything, all that extra time for the flavors to blend makes this chili even better the second day!
Can I Freeze This?
This chili makes a truly excellent freezer meal! Just wait for it to cool completely, then store it in a double-lock freezer bag or a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. I like to freeze it in individual or family-sized portions so I can grab a bag whenever I need a quick lunch or dinner option. Just make sure you move it into the fridge the night before you plan to eat it so it has time to thaw.
More Easy Chili Recipes to Try
- Instant Pot Three Bean Chili
- Chili Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust
- Slow Cooker Chili Mac
- Owl Chili Recipe for Kids
Easy Chili Recipe
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes undrained
- 1 15 oz. can kidney beans drained
- 1 15 oz. can black beans drained
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1/2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
- In a large nonstick saucepan, over medium heat, brown ground beef with onions. Cook until the beef is no longer pink. Drain.
- Add in the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, tomato sauce, water, and seasonings (chili powder, sugar, cajun seasoning, salt and pepper). Stir to combine well.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for at least 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.
- To Store: Refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze: Let cool completely and store in double-lock freezer bags or a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
- To Reheat: Reheat over the stove until bubbles form, or microwave in a covered container at 30-second intervals.