Easy Chili

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Chili is an easy and versatile lunch or dinner that will warm the stomach and soul on a winter’s evening or in Frito pie or topping a hotdog on a summer evening. 

This chili is built around ground beef and pantry staples to be budget friendly for a stick to your ribs delicious dinner that will fill you up without emptying your wallet!

picture of chili in a bowl with sour cream, green onions, and cheese on top
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picture of chili in a bowl with sour cream on top

Easy Pantry Chili

Chili is one of the easiest and most versatile meals you can make – and we’ve designed this recipe to rely on pantry staples you likely already have on hand, as well as budget-friendly ground beef. It is equally at home in the winter and at a summer picnic topping hamburgers or bacon wrapped hot dogs or over Fritos – making this a simple dish you’ll want to make again and again! 

Chili is one of the great American dishes, and like all great American dishes comes with it’s share of controversy. Regardless of where you stand on the great beans-or-n-beans debate in Texas, there is not doubt this chili is easy and delicious. 

Like the chili palours that dotted the country from Cincinnati to San Antonio in the 1930s, everyone claims to have a secret ingredient that makes their chili the best. 

I’m not a Texan, so this chili has beans and tomato sauce, and makes a rich, hearty meal for any occasion. 

picture of chili in a pot with a ladle in it

How to make Easy Chili

To make this recipe, you’ll need:

  • Ground Beef . Use 80/20 ground beef. That number indicates the meat-to-fat ratio of that particular blend of ground beef. The first number is the percentage of beef, the second number is the percentage of fat included in the blend. 80/20 ground beef is the classic burger blend, because it includes enough fat to provide rich beef flavor. 
  • Onion. Onion cooked with ground beef creates a delicious and deep savory flavor – and the enzymes in onion work to tenderize beef and helps it break down easier.
  • Tomatoes. Diced tomatoes provide texture and flavor for this easy chili. The tart, slightly acidic tomatoes create a great balance of flavors with the sweet onions and creamy beans.
  • Kidney Beans. Kidney beans are a common ingredient in chili, and are often used in Tex-Mex and even Indian cuisine. 
  • Black Beans. Black beans, like other beans, are a high source of fiber and protein. When added to stews they create a hearty texture, and release starch to help thicken chili. 
  • Tomato Sauce. Tomato sauce provides the liquid backbone of our easy chili. Its flavorful and tomato-y flavor goes well with the chili powder
  • Chili Powder. Commercial chili powder blends are combinations of ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and occasionally salt. Depending on the blend, you may want to add Cayenne pepper powder to add extra heat. 
  • Cajun Seasoning. Every brand of cajun seasoning has a slightly different flavor profile. They are generally made from a blend of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, pepper, and oregano. 
  • Salt and pepper. Salt and pepper are indispensable in any savory dish. Be careful of how much salt you use if your cajun seasoning and chili powder both contain salt. 

One you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method: 

  • Brown the meat. In a large high-sided pan or dutch oven, brown the meat and diced onions with salt and pepper until the meat is cooked through, and the onions are translucent. Drain off any excess fat, keeping 1-2 tablespoons in the pan for flavor.
  • Add the beans and tomatoes. 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, but not so rigorously that you start to break the beans. 
  • Simmer.  Once the chili has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning after 10 minutes. If you like your chili on the spicy side, this the point to add more chili powder, cheyenne pepper seasoning or hot sauce. 
  • Serve and enjoy.  Once the chili is ready, serve hot with cilantro, white onion, cheese and sour cream as do-it-yourself garnish. 
picture of chili in a bowl with sour cream, green onions, and cheese on top

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Easy Chili:

Sentence about how this recipe is super easy but these tips will help make it even better. 

Substitute ground turkey or chicken. You can replace the ground beef with any ground meat, but ground turkey or chicken will produce a heart-healthy but still delicious chili.

Add Chipotle Chili powder for more heat.  Like your chili hot and spicy? Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of chipotle chili powder to add some extra heat and deep, smoky chipotle flavor. 

Kick up the beef and protein by adding stew meat or leftover brisket.  Want to add an extra level of beef flavor to your chili? Add a pound of stew meat chunks to the ground beef, or chop up a cup of leftover smoked beef brisket to amp up the rich, beefiness of your chili.

FAQs:

How long can I store this chili?

This easy chili recipe will keep in the refrigerator for for 2-3 days, and in the freezer for 4-6 months. 

What is a replacement for cajun seasoning?

Add in ¼ teaspoon of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and oregano. 

Can I use a different meat?

You can swap the ground beef for ground turkey, ground lamb, ground pork, ground chicken – or even beyond beef substitute.

picture of chili in a bowl with sour cream, green onions, and cheese on top

What to Serve With Easy Chili

Easy Chili is delicious with do-it-yourself garnish bar with minced onions, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, and sour cream or Mexican crema. 
Crusty homemade bread or cornbread is a great accompaniment. Try my easy sour cream corn bread recipe or my jalapeño-cheesy bread recipe

Try these delicious sides:

picture of chili in a bowl with sour cream, green onions, and cheese on top

Easy Chili Recipe

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picture of chili in a bowl with sour cream, green onions, and cheese on top
Print

Easy Chili

Delicious chili packed with ground beef, beans, and lots of spice!
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Keyword #chili, beans, best chili, ground beef, stews
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 313kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 small onion diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 can 28 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can 15 oz kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can 15 oz black beans, drained
  • 1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • In a large nonstick sauce pan, over medium heat, brown ground beef with onions. Cook until the beef is no longer pink.
  • Add in the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, tomato sauce, water, and seasonings (chili powder, 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 1864mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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