How to Make Chili: Here’s a Thick, Rich and Flavorful Chili Recipe

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Chili. Be it red, green, white, spicy, medium, or mild, some folks love it, some could leave it, and some will debate whether to bean or not to bean with heated passion. 

In addition to personal preference, geography plays a significant role in how someone prefers their chili. Some regions serve it over spaghetti or hot dogs, and others drizzle it over sandwiches or ladle it into bowls. 

Regardless of the region, chili cook-offs celebrate the variety of this dish, allowing aficionados to showcase their unique twists on this hearty and highly adaptable classic.

In this article, we’ll share more about this meal, walk you through how to make chili following an easy and adaptable recipe, help you choose some sides, and answer some FAQs. 

This recipe makes a red chili with beans, but you can leave them out if you’re part of the beanless crew.

All about chili

Not surprisingly, chili debates go far beyond beans. Its origin story is also one of dispute. 

Some say migrants from the Canary Islands who in 1723 settled in San Antonio – then part of New Spain – first created chili. Another legend credits a Spanish nun, known as the “Lady in Blue,” who traveled by supernatural means to what’s now the Southwestern U.S. in the early-1600s, taking the seemingly impossible opportunity to share her chili recipe with the New World. While no records prove this spooky fable, it’s an intriguing and fitting piece of folklore to accompany such an epic dish.

Wherever chili originated, it’s undeniably a dish that has helped countless Americans through tough times, thanks to its inexpensive ingredients, simple cooking instructions, and ability to feed many mouths from one pot. Perhaps this, combined with its supreme tastiness, is to thank for its spot among the ranks of ultimate comfort foods.

Chili Recipe

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This recipe makes eight servings, takes 20 minutes to prepare, and two hours and 10 minutes to cook, with a total time of two hours and 30 minutes.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium, yellow onions, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt, divided

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds ground beef, 85-90 percent lean

30 oz. canned dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

28 oz. canned diced tomatoes

28 oz. canned tomato puree


  1. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
  2. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions, bell pepper, spices, and half a teaspoon of  salt. Stir and cook the mixture until the vegetables soften. This should take about seven minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds until aromatic.
  3. Stir in the beef over medium-high heat.
  4. As it cooks, break the beef into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon. Keep frying until the meat is cooked. It should no longer be pink.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the remaining salt, and stir them to mix the ingredients.
  6. Stir occasionally, and once the mixture starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low to medium-low, so it maintains a slow simmer. 
  7. Put the lid on and cook for 45 minutes, double-checking every 10 minutes or so, as every stove is different. Remember to set your timer.
  8. Once the 45 minutes are up, remove the lid from the pot and continue to simmer, setting a timer for another 45 minutes.
  9. Check the taste before serving. You may want to add additional salt, pepper, or other seasonings to bring out the flavor.
  10. Before serving, garnish with shredded cheese and sour cream if you’d like. Many toppings go well with chili, so feel free to play around with them. 
  11. Serve immediately.

Note: You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Chili also keeps in the freezer for one month. Place it in the refrigerator to thaw for 24 hours before reheating.

Nutritional values 

Calories: 348 

Carbohydrates: 33 grams

Protein: 32 grams

Fat: 10 grams

Saturated fat: 5 grams

Cholesterol: 70 milligrams

Sodium: 810 milligrams

Fiber: 9 grams

Sugar: 10 grams

Original recipe:

What can you serve alongside chili?

Top your chili with:

  • Shredded cheddar
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced green onions
  • Diced red onions
  • Jalapeños 
  • Tortilla strips
  • Fresh chopped herbs like cilantro, parsley, or chives

Serve and dip it with:

  • Crackers
  • Bread
  • Tortilla chips
  • Buns
  • Cornbread

Chili variations

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For a more flavorful chili, you can play around with the ingredients.


For a spicier chili, add some diced jalapeños or other hot peppers. Remember to be cautious and wash your hands, tools, and work surface before touching anything else. You can also swap out some or all of the beans for vegetables like peas, carrots, corn, mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, butternut squash, and pumpkin, among others. If you prefer black bean chili, use these in place of red kidney beans.


You can easily change the flavors by swapping some or all of the beef for equal amounts of ground turkey, chicken, or pork. A mixture of beef and pork makes for a combination that’s not only delicious but excellent if you’re on a budget, as pork tends to cost less than beef. Additionally, a mixture of half beef and half Italian sausage can take your chili to another level in terms of taste.

Spices and more

Upping the amount of cayenne in this recipe will give you a spicier chili. To deepen the flavor, you can stir in two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa. A tablespoon of cinnamon or a shot of espresso will also introduce a new savory profile to your spices. A bit of paprika will complement the cayenne, cumin, and chili powder. Paneer will change the flavor board entirely, as this firm cheese will give your chili additional flavor and texture.

Chili FAQs

What goes well with chili for dinner?

Chili goes well with many foods that can be dipped or enjoyed on their own such as cornbread, breadsticks, crackers, buns, bread, and tortilla chips. If you want to prepare a sidedish, try pairing your chili with quesadillas, nachos, tacos, baked potatoes, or a classic grilled cheese like the one in this recipe. And who’s to say all of these sides cannot be topped or dipped as well? Additionally, if you’re looking for something simple and light, a fresh salad will do the trick.

How can you thicken chili?

Cooking your chili uncovered will help reduce the liquid. You can also simmer over low heat for a more extended period. Just make sure to stir occasionally to prevent burning. If you find your chili is still watery, you can add more beans. Beans release starch that will help thicken the liquids. Another trick is to add a tablespoon of cornmeal, as this will absorb some of the moisture. However, keep in mind that the cornmeal may add some graininess to the texture. Additionally, you can stir in four to six tablespoons of tomato paste 30 minutes before the chili has finished cooking.

Can you make chili in an instant pot?

Not only are instant pots perfect for making chili, but some cooks prefer these for making easy and delicious chili. However, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time, so use less liquid and ensure it’s not too full. You may want to do a quick search for a recipe specifically tailored to this appliance.

How can I make chili in a slow cooker?

Adding this recipe to a slow cooker makes cooking a cinch. To do so, follow the directions through step five and add it to your slow cooker in place of the first simmer in step six. You can either cook it on low for six to eight hours or high for three to four hours. When the chili has one hour left to cook, leave the lid slightly open and cook on high.

Are you feeling chili?

Whether you’re cooking chili to eat while watching the game, to share with friends, or as a meal for your household, this homemade chili will likely become a favorite, especially once you perfect it and start adding some personal touches. When it comes to cooking, finding you’re out of an ingredient at the last minute can be disappointing. But worry not. You can order daily essentials, including groceries, in seconds with Gopuff, and they’ll be at your doorstep in a matter of minutes.

If you’re throwing a party or want a simple evening snack, check out these recipes for snack mixes that are sure to be a hit. 

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