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Ultimate Chili

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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.

The BEST Chili Recipe

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!

Ultimate Chili Recipe | 1-Minute Video


Beef Chili Recipe

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).

Chili Recipe with Beef

How To Make Chili:

Stovetop Chili Instructions: Here is a quick overview of how to make chili the classic way on the stovetop:

  1. 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.
  2. Sauté veggies. Next, we will sauté the onion, red pepper and jalapeño until softened, followed by a quick sauté of the garlic.
  3. 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.
  4. Simmer: Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and continue to simmer the chili for about 20 minutes. (Or longer, if you would like.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Chili Recipe with Beans and Beef

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.

Chili Recipe

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:

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The BEST Chili Recipe

Ultimate Chili

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 27 reviews
  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x


  • 5 ounces diced pancetta (or 5 slices of diced thick-cut bacon)
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 jalapeño, cored and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 bottle (1 1/2 cups) beer
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 2 (15-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 (15-oz) can beans of your choice, rinsed and drained (I used pinto and dark red kidney beans)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, diced (plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder*
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • toppings: diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, diced green or red onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, and/or crumbled corn tortilla chips


  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Simmer: Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and continue to simmer the chili for 20 minutes.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.

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61 comments on “Ultimate Chili”

  1. I am excited to make this, but in the directions you mention adding chicken. Chicken is not on the ingredient list. Did I misread something?

    • Whoops, that was a typo! Thank you for catching that. No chicken in this one. :)

    • Oh good! So glad I double checked. Chili simmering on the stove right now. My house smells amazing!

    • Followed recipe exactly. Did stovetop version all the way through..thought it would come out best. Transferred to crockpot to keep a few hours til taste. All the shopping ?, chopping, dirty pans..bland. Had to add more chili powder, can of tomato sauce, more salt. Barely any chili flavor. Thought for a minute I had COVID-19, but, just a bad recipe.

  2. I love your blog & would like to use your recipes but I REALLY need the nutritional break-down. Without it I can’t go there. Thank you for considering this as many people would need it.

  3. This sounds so good! I usually put chili beans (medium) in my chili and also some medium salsa – adds a little punch. Love the idea of beer and cocoa – making tomorrow. Thank you

  4. It looks delicious. If I leave out the beans (Yes, I am from Texas), is there anything I should increase in the ingredients? Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  5. I just saw a video on adding 2 oz of heavy cream to the beef and “marinating“ it overnight or for at least four hours before sauteing it. Sounds interesting.

    • My husband and I don’t use alcohol for cooking. Could you substitute the beer with something else?

  6. I’ve been trying to figure out how to feed all the people that will be at my house Sunday without missing a second of the game. This is perfect, this will be in my crock pot before the game starts and we can all eat during half time. Can’t wait to try it! Go Chiefs!!

  7. I made this today, came out wonderful! Nice layers of flavors. I used dried beans that I soaked overnight so I added a bit more beef broth/liquid because they needed to cook longer, and the masa harina slurry at the end to thicken was a great tip! I did add more chili powder and cumin as well as an additional chipotle pepper with adobo sauce. Family loved it. Thanks Ali!

  8. Followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious!! Thank you for another hit!

  9. Ali, I never comment on blogs but this chili is so delicious! We had some last night for the Super Bowl and I just had a bowl for lunch. I think I’m going to keep making big batches to freeze and have for lunch the rest of this winter! It’s perfect. Thank you!!

  10. For the crock pot you mention to put all ingredients in crockpot..question is brown hamburger first, sauté first?
    Thank you! This sounds very tasty!

  11. You are one of the chili master. I like all of your chili recipe. It will better than others. I love your cooking style.

  12. Made this tonight as written The only addition I made was an 8oz can of tomato sauce. Really, really good! Will definitely be making again and again

  13. Great recipe as is or with modifications. The chipotle in adobo is a must. I add a little strong, black coffee and a capful of bourbon. A touch of Mexican oregano did not hurt it either. Great the second day.

  14. I made this recipe and it was so good I almost blew my brains out with a shotgun! Thanks!

  15. Made it and loved it. My picky eating daughter had 2 bowls. Will be my favorite chili from now on. It was great.

  16. Didn’t see freezing directions. But I’ll just freeze some tonight. ??

  17. Great summer recipe. I’m used to the regular crap made in cold weather. Making it now and something is missing. Its not as red as I thought it would be. Maybe more brown sugar and chili powder? Either way, tastes amazing! My two roommates were asking when it’s ready because it smells so delicious. I did add a small can of tomato paste and extra diced tomatoes.

  18. Just made this today for my two roommates and some of their friends. Two of them said it was probably the best chili they have ever had. I personally loved it and it was a big hit with everyone. Very, very, very good chili. I will be making it again, thank you for the recipe, but now I’m on cooking duty more often lol.

  19. Smokey and slightly spicy. We used 2 jalapeños, rather than one, and it was just right level of heat. We followed the recipe. It will be our “go to” chili recipe. It was very easy to make.

  20. Great recipe! Didnt have beer so I followed your instructions at the top. It still needed more tomato and broth so I added a can of tomato sauce and about a cup more beef broth. But it’s great!

  21. Best chili recipe so far! Thanks for sharing. Used one can chipotle diced tomatoes instead of adobo. Didn’t have bell pepper so added poblano, anaheim and a real hot NM Green Chile. No bacon so I used 2 tbsp bacon grease to saute onions. Sorry for substitutions but can’t make unnecessary trips to grocery store with this virus flying around. Had to force myself to not go back for thirds! Muy bueno!!!

  22. My boyfriend of 5 years said it was the best chili I’ve ever made (there may have been some mishaps). I added more veggies but it was a great guide!

  23. This was SO GOOD. Our entire family loved it!

  24. made this recipe again… chili we have had…great idea of thickening it with masa harina! I don’t like kidney beans so I substituted with black beans (and of course used pino beans as well). I added a bit more cumin and 2 1/2 Tbsps oregano leaves and a bit more chili powder. Thanks for this recipe….

  25. This recipe looks amazing. Going to try it tonite. Can you tell me what the quantity of 1 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is?

    • There are typically 4 peppers in the small can so just one of those peppers. You can freeze the unused portion for future use.

  26. This was a really solid chili recipe! I did modify as follows: used only half of a red pepper and half of an onion (because kids and vegetables ?), added more chili powder and cumin, used one can of chili style beans and one can of pinto and simmered for about 40 minutes and added the masa harina slurry to thicken. I will no longer be on a search for the best chili recipe – this is it!

  27. Beans? You’re not from Texas!

  28. I followed your recipe to the “T” it was fabulous! I did however cook it on the stove in an oven safe stock pot and at the end I took a can of pillsbury Grand biscuits and put them on top of the chili and cooked them it the oven with the top off. Fantastic!

  29. Awful. Awful.
    Waaaaaay too spicy.
    Way too much smoke flavor.

  30. Does it matter what kind of beer I use?

  31. This was wonderful!! We just used 1lb of lean ground been, but everything else as written and it was perfect. Thanks!!

  32. This is my FAVORITE chili recipe and the only one I make now! I’ve made it multiple times and it never lets me down. I like to use a can of chili beans without rinsing and a can of kidney beans, rinsed. Perfection.

  33. This is now our family’s favorite chilli recipe. Thank you!

  34. Thank you for sharing your love of food & life. All the best to you in the future.

  35. This was so great! Thanks for sharing it! We just had it last night for Halloween and everyone loved it!

  36. Ridiculously good. I used a potato masher to smash some of the beans in the soup to thicken and let it go a bit uncovered to simmer to thicken a bit more. Love the smokiness of this. I used ground beef and hot Italian sausage. Also used black beans and pinto beans. Highly recommend.

  37. Best chili I have ever made!! Used two chipotles, instead of one. And used 3 cans Ro-Tel with green chiles, instead of 2 cans and separate can of green chiles (Ro-Tel has green chiles already mixed in). Let it simmer without the lid a little longer to thicken up too. Will be replacing my old recipe with this one – thank you!!

  38. Great recipe! Absolutely must use smoked paprika, cocoa and fire roasted tomatoes. That felt like a game-changer. I thought there was too much liquid, so I did two cups of beef stock and no beer. I also made some healthier changes: I used 1lb of ground turkey and 1lb of sliced baby portobellos instead of beef and bacon. Also added a poblano, another jalapeño and some cayenne instead of canned chilis. So good!

  39. Hands down the best chilli I’ve ever made. The cilantro and crushed corn chips were a great addition.

  40. My family loved this chili! It is my new go to recipe for winter nights.

    However I agree with others who said it doesnt have the red color af made as listed. I added a small can of tomato paste and that was perfect.

  41. Made a half batch as a single guy, but thought it needed more tomato. Added a 15oz can of crushed tomatoes. Also after tasting double the cumin and chili powder and added in some crushed red pepper for more heat. Debating doing a corn starch slurry but probably just going to let this simmer while I drink more beer =). Samples taste really good

  42. Any chance you could add nutrition facts to your recipes (I can imagine this would be a huge project!)? I LOVE your recipes but now have to count carbs for health reasons. Thanks for considering!

  43. Made this in the crockpot without beer, beef stock, and pancetta, and there was no flavor. Very disappointing considering I’ve used other chili recipes that don’t have those ingredients and it comes out really good. I’m going to try again and adjust seasoning based on another recipe.

  44. I can’t find any info on freezing the chili? Do I just let it cool and then freeze flat in freezer ziplocks?

  45. Most flavorful chili that I have ever made!! This recipe is going in our family favorite list.

  46. Followed all the steps and once again this is the most consistent recipe website I’ve ever tried. Thanks again! You should be on the Iron Chef with these recipes! Thanks!

  47. Hi Ali, this recipe looks amazing. A question I have for you, what kind of beer do you put in your chili? As there are so many different types. Lagers, Ales. Can’t wait to try it and add to my collection. Thank you!

  48. We were skeptical of the beer and bacon in a chili recipe at first but we actually loved it! We thought it had a great taste and let it simmer for several hours after we ate dinner to have even more flavorful leftover.

  49. I love chili but I never made it myself,I always went to a restaurant if I wanted chili, so I got up my courage and decided to make chili using this recipe.Never again will I go to a restaurant for chili,this recipe is outstanding and everyone who I gave some to totally loved it

  50. This was absolutely delicious. I rarely comment, but this is hands down the best chili recipe out there!