This may be a classic chili recipe with beef, but I say it's the BEST classic chili recipe with beef!
It's loaded with spices and flavor, is the right consistency and is packed with beef and kidney beans.
Chili is the perfect make-ahead meal in the cooler months. Soups, chili and casseroles actually gain flavor as they sit and the ingredients have a chance to meld.
Plus, the topping options are endless, making chili night a fun experience for the whole family.
How to make classic chili with beef
- Onion. We need aromatics like onion and garlic to make chili and soups taste extra delicious.
- Ground beef. I like to use lean ground beef, but whatever you have and like to use will work!
- Garlic. As much or as little as you'd like.
- Chili powder. I use a lot of chili powder in my chili recipe, so grab the big bottle when you go grocery shopping!
- Tomato paste. Keep a tube of this on hand to add depth of flavor to recipes.
- Crushed tomatoes. I like the consistency and texture of crushed tomatoes, but you could also use tomato puree + diced tomatoes.
- Dark red kidney beans. I always keep a bunch of cans of beans on hand, kidney beans being one of them!
- Beef stock. I like to use a little bit of beef stock to add a rich depth of flavor to chili (rather than using water).
- Toppings. I'm a fan of shredded cheddar and avocado, but you could also add green onion, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips or crackers.
- The sky is the limit with toppings!
- A cutting board and chef's knife.
- A Dutch oven or soup pot.
- A wooden or silicone spoon.
- Measuring cups and spoons (unless you want to wing it).
- Bowls and spoons for serving.
- Saute: Heat oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot to medium heat.
- Add onion and sauté 3-4 minutes or until onion is starting to soften.
- Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up into smaller pieces, until beef it browned.
- Stir in garlic, chili powder, salt and black pepper and tomato paste.
- Simmer: Add crushed tomatoes, kidney beans and beef stock and bring to a simmer.
- Cook 10-15 minutes.
- Taste: Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- Cooking Tip: Add the spices to the sautéed vegetables (rather than stirring them in after you add the liquid) to help them release their spices and impart more flavor on your finished dish.
- Variation Tip: Make this Mexican-inspired by adding green chilies, cumin and fresh cilantro.
- Make it a Meal: With protein, fiber and loads of vegetables, this chili is a meal-in-one!
Storage and Reheating Tips
- Storage: Transfer leftover chili into microwaveable airtight containers and refrigerate up to 5 days. Freeze up to 2 months.
- Thawing: If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator or place the container in warm water.
- Reheating: Reheat in individual bowls or containers in the microwave on high for 1-3 minutes or until heated through.
- You can also reheat this classic chili with beef in a saucepan on the stove at medium-low heat until heated through.
Recipe Substitutions and Alterations
- Onion: You can use a yellow, white or even a red onion. Whatever you have on hand will be fine.
- Garlic: Chopping your own fresh garlic is always the most flavorful, but you can use pre-minced garlic (I suggest the kind packaged in olive oil).
- You can also throw handfuls of peeled garlic cloves in a food processor and process it until minced, then store it in an airtight container in the freezer.
- Ground beef: Try with ground chicken or turkey.
- Dark red kidney beans: You can use light red kidney beans, or use a mix of beans like kidney, black, cannellini, pinto or great northern.
- Beef stock: If you're making this with chicken or turkey, try chicken stock or if you're skipping the meat, use vegetable stock.
- To make it spicy: Saute minced jalapeno with the onion or add in a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne with you add the chili powder.
- To make this gluten free: This recipe is naturally gluten free. Be sure all packaged ingredients you use are certified gluten free.
- To make this dairy free: This recipe is naturally dairy free. Be sure all toppings used are dairy free (skip the cheese).
- To make this vegetarian: Swap out the ground beef for another can or 2 of beans.
- To make this vegan: Swap out the ground beef for another can or 2 of beans. Be sure all toppings used are dairy free (skip the cheese).
- To make this nut free: This recipe is naturally nut free. Be sure all packaged ingredients you use are nut free.
Fabulous soup and stew recipes:
- Roasted Poblano Soup with Chicken
- Old-Fashioned Ham and Cabbage Soup with Potatoes
- Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup
- Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup
- Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup
- Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
Classic Chili with Beef
Classic chili with beef, kidney beans, tomatoes and plenty of spices.
- Prep Time: 10-15 mins
- Cook Time: 20-25 mins
- Total Time: 30-40 mins
- Yield: Serves 8
- Category: Soup, Entree
- Method: Stove-Top
- Cuisine: American
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 ½-pounds lean ground beef
- 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons no salt added tomato paste
- 32-ounce can no salt added crushed tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans no salt added dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1-2 cups unsalted beef stock
- 2 medium avocados, peeled and diced
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot to medium heat. Add onion and sauté 3-4 minutes or until onion is starting to soften. Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up into smaller pieces, until beef it browned. Stir in garlic, chili powder, salt and black pepper and tomato paste.
- Add crushed tomatoes, kidney beans and beef stock and bring to a simmer. Cook 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- Divide chili evenly into bowls and top with diced avocado and shredded cheddar cheese.
Substitution Tip: For a vegetarian version, swap out beef for cooked black beans.
Cooking Tip: Add the spices to the sautéed vegetables to help them release their spices and impart more flavor on your finished dish.
Variation Tip: Make this Mexican-inspired by adding green chilies, cumin and fresh cilantro.
Make it a Meal: With protein, fiber and loads of vegetables, this chili is a meal-in-one!
- Serving Size: ⅛ of recipe
- Calories: 442
- Sugar: 7g
- Sodium: 533mg
- Fat: 17g
- Saturated Fat: 6g
- Unsaturated Fat: 11g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Fiber: 13g
- Protein: 32g
- Cholesterol: 71mg
Keywords: chili, stew, soup, beef, meal prep