This Simple Beef Chili recipe is one that can be enjoyed with the family at any time of the year. I make it during the spring and summer months for gatherings outdoors and it’s the perfect winter dish to warm you up.
Starting with ground beef, this chili is made using fire-roasted tomatoes, and along with spices and seasoning, uses a small amount of brown sugar for a hint of sweetness.
Defined as a hearty stew, chili recipes can differ from region to region in terms of preparation and flavor. And this includes if beans are used or not.
If you ask a Texan…”If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans.” Haha. Traditional red chili in Texas forgoes the beans to focus solely on the simplicity of meat, red chili peppers, savory sauce, spices, and seasonings.
While I enjoy both variations, this recipe is based on the version I enjoyed as a child — and yes, it was made with beans. Sorry, Texas.
So which beans should I use for my chili?
When it comes to chili, kidney beans are the best beans to use for a few reasons. Since they are firm, they retain their shape even after cooking for a long time at high heat. And because of this, they absorb seasonings very well.
What ingredients will I need?
Lean ground beef is the meat I use for my chili. This is the traditional meat used, but can also be replaced with ground turkey and even ground chicken.
Two cans (16 oz. each) of kidney beans. You don’t want to drain your beans as the liquid adds quite a bit of flavor to the chili — plus it helps create the sauce.
I always use fire-roasted diced tomatoes in my chili. It adds some smoky flavor.
Chili isn’t chili without onions. This is blended with butter and garlic. Yes, please!
For a little sweetness, I use brown sugar. If you don’t prefer a slightly sweet chili, you can omit the brown sugar or decrease the amount. You can also use 1 tbsp. pure cane syrup as a sweetener.
And for my spices and seasonings, I use chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, Himalayan salt, cumin, crushed red pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
How to make beef chili:
Begin by chopping your onion into diced pieces.
Add butter and garlic to a large pot and bring to medium heat. Add your onions, butter, and minced garlic and cook until the onions are translucent.
Add your lean ground beef and cook until the beef is browned (around 10 minutes). You want to break down and crumble your ground beef as it cooks. Once cooked, drain any excess liquid from the beef then add all remaining ingredients to the pot. Note: Since I use 85% lean ground beef there is not much liquid produced.
Cook covered for 25 minutes at medium-low heat.
The great thing about chili is that you can use it in more than one recipe idea. This comes in handy with leftovers as there is always something you can do with it — aside from eating it as-is.
Chili (or leftover chili) can be used to make..
Classic Chili Frito Pie topped with chili, fresh onions, cheddar, cheese, and a dollop of sour cream
A Chili Cheese Dog layered with a nice helping of chili, mustard, onions, and cheese
Go Tex-Mex style and use some chili to make Chili and Cheese Nachos or Chili Cheese Burritos (Taco Bell makes these and I remember them well from my college days)
Chili Loaded Baked Potatoes, Chili Cheese Fries, and Chili Tater Tot Casserole are other options
When I think of chili I immediately think of a nice and cozy hearty meal and in 30 minutes you can do the time! This Chili recipe is one that can be diversified or enjoyed simply by itself.