Simple Classic Chili – A no-frills recipes for a simple classic chili. Made with lean beef, two different kinds of beans, and a whole lot of heartiness, this classic chili is perfect on its own or mixed into cheese for a yummy queso dip.
Another fall week, another record high temp here in Atlanta. 87 degrees to be precise. It was the hottest Halloween on record. I am about fed up with this heat! I need it to be cold enough so I gotta wear socks on my feet around the house and sweats when I go to sleep (that’s how I measure temperature). Is that too much to ask for?!
I realize that I may sound ridiculous to you Northerners who are reading this, since you’ve probably had cold weather since September and probably hate it already. But just let me have my moment.
Today’s recipe is a desperate attempt to convince myself that fall is here, even if the weather won’t cooperate.
I always get a craving for chili around this time of year. It’s a comforting, easy meal that I can add to anything: baked potato, nachos, and even spaghetti (don’t knock it ’till you try it!!!). So when that craving kicked in last week, I just had to make it. Cold weather or not.
Every time I make chili, I make it slightly different than the last. So I wanted to use this opportunity to finally settle on a simple, classic recipe that I loved. But also a recipe that I could easily add things (veggies, spices) without having to adjust the other ingredients.
And that’s the recipe we have here, folks! A simple, bare-bones chili that satisfies the classic craving but that you can also make your own. Want to add zucchini and squash for more veggies? Do it! Want more spice? Add a jalapeno! Don’t like beans? Wait – you don’t like beans?! Fine. Then keep them out! But I’m still judging you for not liking them. I could LIVE off beans and rice.
This is a super simple recipe, so if you’re a beginner cook, have no fear! You’re gonna rock this recipe! Here are a few extra tips to make sure this chili comes out perfectly:
- Decide what kind of chili you want before you get started. Are you going to use beef or turkey? Kidney beans, black beans, or pinto beans? Do you want extra heat? Extra veggies? You want to plan these things out so you make sure to get any additional ingredients that you need.
- If you want to add more vegetables, only add 1-2 cups max. You don’t want the chili to get overwhelmed. Corn, zucchini, and squash are all great options.
- If you want to add spice, but are nervous about making it too spicy, use dry spices. That way, you can add a little at the end, taste, and then add more, if needed. Fresh jalepeno is tricky because you have to cook it with the other veggies so that it softens up. You won’t be able to taste the complete chili before adding in more.
- You can use any ground beef or turkey for this recipe. They are interchangeable. Same goes for the beans. But I would stick to black beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans since they hold up better.
- Use a big pot or dutch oven for the chili. You’re going to be making tons of chili so you need to have a large vessel to handle the job. Added on 11/29/2016: As you can see in the photos, I cooked this chili in a cast iron dutch oven. This is a major no no that I was not aware of. Cooking acidic foods in the cast iron will eat away at the coating, something I learned first-hand. My cast iron started peeling a few weeks after making this chili. It was not pretty! So make sure you use a stainless steel pot or enameled dutch oven. Or anything else besides cast iron.
- If you want a chunkier chili, buy whole tomatoes and rough-chop them yourself. I wanted the tomatoes to break down into the chili so I didn’t want the chunks. That’s why the recipe says petite diced tomatoes.
- Make sure to purchase your ingredients for serving (shredded cheese, sour cream, onions, diced avocado, cornbread). I cannot tell you home many times I’ve done this! I usually just focus on the recipe and forget all about how I plan on eating it.
- The cook time of the chili all depends on how soupy you want it. Watch the chili and when it gets to the desired consistency, remove it from the heat. I like mine thick, so I let it cook for the full 60 minutes. But if you like it runnier, it should be done by 45 minutes.
And there you have it! A simple, classic chili. How do you plan on making yours? Let me know if the comments below!
Here are all the kitchen tools and serveware that I used in this post. For each item that is sold, I receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting the brands that support CPA!
Simple, Classic Chili
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 -1 1/2 pounds ground meat lean (or ground turkey)
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes (28-ounces)
- 1 can kidney beans (15.5 ounces)
- 1 can pinto beans (15.5 ounces)
- toppings (cheese, sour cream, onions, cilantro, etc)
- Grab a large pot or dutch oven and place on burner. Set heat to medium and add oil to pot.
- Once pot is hot, add ground beef (or turkey) and begin to brown it. Once it's completely cooked, scoop out of from pot and into a small bowl and set aside.
- In the same pot used to cook the meat, add diced onions. Raise heat a little so it's between medium and medium-high. Cook until onions start to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in peppers and cook until those start to soften, about 5-8 minutes.
- Make a well in the center of the onions and peppers. Add garlic so that it receives direct heat and starts to brown. Do not let garlic burn! It should only take 30 seconds for it to brown and release its fragrance. At that point, stir into the onions and peppers.
- Add the salt, cumin, chili pepper and cayenne to the vegetables. If you don't like spice, only add 1/4 teaspoon. You can taste the chili at the end of the recipe and add more if you need extra kick. Stir spices into vegetables until evenly dispersed and let them cook for 30 more seconds.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add back meat and stir in chicken broth. The addition of the broth will break up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Use your wooden spoon to help those bits break off and mix into the broth. This is pure flavor, people!
- Cover and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, remove lid and reduce temperature to medium-low so it's now simmering. Let simmer (uncovered) for 45-60 minutes until chili is the desired consistency. I like mine thick so I used those full 60 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and beans to mixture. Simmer for another 10 minutes to bring chili back to temperature.
- Once it's done, give the chili a taste to see if you need more salt or cayenne. Give it one last stir.
- Serve with your favorite toppings. I like mine with sour cream, cheese, and a sprinkle of cilantro. Yummm!
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