My ultimate chili recipe is simmered with all of the classic ingredients we know and love, plus a few secret seasonings that make this chili extra-memorable and a total crowd fave.
Believe it or not, this is actually the very first classic stovetop chili recipe that I have posted here in 10 years of blogging.
I’ve blogged about just about every other kind of chili imaginable — especially various kinds of vegetarian and chicken chili recipes, which are my usual go-tos. But over the years, you all have continued to send in requests for an outstanding classic beef chili recipe here on the blog too. One that’s guaranteed to be a crowd favorite at game day parties or around the table for cozy weeknight dinners. One that can be simmered in a big pot on the stovetop, or made even easier in the Crock-Pot or Instant Pot as well. One that’s rich and hearty and doesn’t skimp on the best ingredients needed to achieve the very best flavors. And most importantly of all, a chili recipe that’s delicious enough to win the whole dang cook-off.
Well, here you have it. Friends, meet the best classic chili recipe I’ve ever tried. ♡♡♡
It’s full of all of the classic beef chili ingredients that we all know and love. But there are also a few extra special flavors simmered in there that — I’m convinced, at least — make this chili recipe ultimately stand out above all the rest. It’s a chili recipe that’s big and bold and doesn’t shy away from some smoky heat. But it’s still incredibly easy to make and, of course, pile high with as many of your favorite toppings as possible. (You know my mantra — more is more when it comes to chili toppings!)
As always, I’ve also included lots of tips below for how to customize this chili recipe exactly the way you prefer, including how to make it spicier or milder, heartier or brothier, gluten-free or lightened-up, etc. Plus, I’ve also included tips for how to store and/or freeze this recipe, if you would like to save the leftovers for easy meal prep for the month ahead.
Bottom line — I’m convinced this chili recipe is a winner and sincerely hope you love it too. So let’s make some!
Chili Recipe Ingredients:
Ok, so as I mentioned above, I went all-in with the indulgent ingredient list here. ♡ Here are a few notes about what we will be using to make this chili (see full ingredient amounts in the recipe below):
Pancetta (or bacon): Whose flavor instantly kicks this beef chili up a delicious notch!
Ground beef: I used a leaner cut of organic ground beef, but any type of ground beef will do.
Veggies: A mix of bell pepper, onion and garlic.
Chile peppers: One jalapeño (or two, if you prefer) to give the chili some heat, and one can of diced green chiles to add some subtle mild undertones, and one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce to add that signature smokiness.
Beer + beef stock: Guys, a bottle of beer is my favorite trick for making an extra-delicious broth. I used an IPA, but any favorite bottle of beer that you happen to have on hand will do. (Or if you prefer not to cook with beer, you can just use 100% beef stock instead plus a splash of apple cider vinegar.)
Fire-roasted tomatoes: Or if you can’t find these at the store, regular diced tomatoes will also do.
Beans: Two cans of whichever type(s) of beans you prefer, rinsed and drained. I used one can each of pinto and kidney beans.
Seasonings: A blend of chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.
Toppings: As always with chili, I vote you pile on as many toppings as possible! My standards include diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, diced green or red onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and/or Fritos (or crumbled corn tortilla chips).
How To Make Chili:
Stovetop Chili Instructions: Here is a quick overview of how to make chili the classic way on the stovetop:
Brown the meat. First, we will brown the pancetta (or bacon) and beef in the stockpot, and transfer the cooked meat to a separate clean plate. There should be at least a tablespoon of grease left in the pan, which we will use to sauté the veggies.
Sauté veggies. Next, we will sauté the onion, red pepper and jalapeño until softened, followed by a quick sauté of the garlic.
Add remaining ingredients: Then add beer to the stockpot and use a wooden spoon to gently scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot. (They are full of great flavor!) And finally, add the cooked beef and pancetta (or bacon), beef stock, tomatoes, beans, chicken, green chiles, chipotle chili in adobo, chili powder, smoked paprika and cumin to the stockpot and stir to combine. Let the chili continue to cook until it reaches a simmer.
Simmer: Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and continue to simmer the chili for about 20 minutes. (Or longer, if you would like.)
Season: Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. (Feel free to also add in extra chili powder or cumin, if you think it is needed.) And if the broth seems too thin to your liking, you can let the broth simmer uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until it has reduced and thickened a bit.
Serve: Then when you’re ready, ladle the chili up into serving bowls and pile them high with lots and lots of your favorite toppings. And enjoy!
Instant Pot Chili Instructions: I recommend using the “Sauté” feature on the Instant Pot to brown the meat, as directed in Step 1. (And optionally, you can also use the “Sauté” feature to soften the veggies, as directed in Step 2. Or you can add the veggies in with the remaining ingredients.) Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the Instant Pot and give them a quick stir. Then cover and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes, followed by a quick release. Season and serve.
Crockpot Chili Instructions: If you would like, you have the option of completing Step 1 (and 2, optionally) on the stovetop. Then you can add the sautéed ingredients to the slow cooker. But if you would like to make crockpot chili the easiest way, simply add all of the chili ingredients at once to the bowl of a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Season and serve.
Possible Chili Recipe Variations:
Guys, there are so many fun ways that you can customize this chili recipe, so please experiment and see what you like best! For example, feel free to…
Use Italian sausage. I also often make my chili with half ground beef and half (hot) Italian sausage, which adds some amazing flavor to this recipe! A mix with beef and chorizo would also be delicious too.
Use steak. You can also substitute diced steak (I would recommend a 1/2-inch dice) in place of ground beef. Just sauté the steak until browned on all sides, and then cover and let the chili simmer until the steak is completely tender.
Use ground turkey. Or, to make this more of a turkey chili recipe, substitute ground turkey in place of ground beef for a leaner chili. You may need to add some extra oil to the pan to brown the turkey, since it naturally contains less fat.
Make it gluten-free. To make this a gluten-free chili recipe, just be sure to use gluten-free beer (or use beef stock in place of the beer).
Make it spicier/milder. If you like your chili to have more of a spicy kick, feel free to add in an extra jalapeño pepper. If you would like it to be milder, just omit the jalapeño altogether. (And as always, if serving this chili to a varied group of eaters, I recommend keeping it on the milder side. Then you can always offer hot sauce if people would like to spice up their individual bowls.)
Make it more/less smoky. Give the chili a taste and if you would like it to be a bit smokier, you can add in an extra chipotle in adobo sauce. Or if you don’t like smoky flavors, you can omit the chipotle in adobo sauce altogether. (And use regular paprika instead of smoked paprika, too.)
Make it thicker. If you would like this chili to be a bit thicker, whisk together 1/4 cup masa harina with 1/2 cup cold water. After the chili has simmered for 10 minutes, stir a few tablespoons of the masa mixture into the chili at a time until the chili reaches your desired consistency.
Add cocoa powder. For a subtle yet rich undertone, try adding a few teaspoons of cocoa powder to your chili. I promise it won’t make the whole batch taste like chocolate, but it definitely rounds out the flavors nicely.
Add in extra veggies. I kept this base recipe simple. But if you would like to add in some extra veggies, anything from sweet potatoes to carrots, celery, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant or kale would be delicious too. If you add in more veggies, just keep in mind that you may need to also add in some extra broth/seasonings to compensate.
More Favorite Chili Recipes:
Craving a different style of chili? Here are a few of my other favorite chili recipes here on Gimme Some Oven:
toppings: diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, diced green or red onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, and/or crumbled corn tortilla chips
Brown the meat. Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta (or bacon) and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef and sauté until browned and cooked through, stirring and crumbling with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked meat to a clean plate and set it aside, reserving 1 tablespoon of grease in the pot. (If there is more grease in the pot, discard it.)
Sauté veggies. Add the onion, red pepper and jalapeño to the stockpot and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add remaining ingredients: Add the beer to the stockpot, and use a wooden spoon to gently scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the cooked beef and pancetta (or bacon), beef stock, tomatoes, beans, green chiles, chipotle chili in adobo, chili powder, smoked paprika and cumin, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the chili reaches a simmer.
Simmer: Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and continue to simmer the chili for 20 minutes.
Season: Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. (Feel free to also add in extra chili powder or cumin, if you think it is needed.)
Serve: Serve immediately, piled high with all of your favorite toppings.
Chili Powder: I used American-style chili powder in this recipe, which is different than cayenne. (If you live outside of the USA, please look for American-style chili powder which is essential in this recipe.)
Broth Consistency: If the broth seems too thin, you can either simmer the chili uncovered for an extra 10-15 minutes until it reaches your desired thickness. Or you can stir in a few tablespoons of masa harina slurry at a time (equal parts masa harina + cold water, whisked together) as the chili is simmering, until it reaches your desired consistency.
Instant Pot Chili Instructions: Using the “Sauté” button, cook the meat in an Instant Pot as directed in Step 1, then transfer the meat to a separate plate. Sauté the veggies as directed in Step 2. Then add the cooked meat and remaining ingredients to the bowl of your Instant Pot, give everything a quick stir, place the lid on top and set to sealing, and pressure cook the chili on high for 10 minutes, followed by a natural release. Continue with Steps 5 and 6.
Crockpot Chili Instructions: If you would like, you have the option of completing Step 1 (and 2, optionally) on the stovetop. Then you can add those sautéed ingredients to the slow cooker. But if you would like to make crockpot chili the easiest way, simply add all of the chili ingredients at once to the bowl of a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Continue with Steps 5 and 6.