Grab your ingredient list because we're about to share the best, easy chili recipe. While we do love a good vegetarian chili, this is a hearty ground beef chili with beans and tomatoes and just the right amount of spice. Yum, I can smell it through the screen!
You can make this as crockpot chili (slow cooker) or use a large dutch oven. In fact, it's easy to make this in the instant pot as well. In just 10 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of cooking you'll have delicious chili con carne. If you're in a pinch this can be a 30-minute chili recipe. Are you ready to make this easy meal?
- Meat: We like using ground beef and ground sausage in this quick chili recipe. However, if you like, you can use ground chicken or ground turkey.
- Beans: Use your favorite canned beans! We love kidney beans, pinto beans and white beans but you can also add black beans or whatever beans you prefer.
- Spices: Use a packet of chili seasoning for a quick chili recipe or spend a couple more minutes and make your own spice blend with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
- Vegetables: Fresh yellow onion and canned tomatoes are easiest. If you love fresh tomato just adjust cooking time because they take much longer to break down.
Step 1: Add a pound of ground beef, ground sausage, and onion to an 8-Quart dutch oven or stockpot. Saute onion and meat until the onion is soft and translucent and the meats are no longer pink. (If you are using lean meats or swapping out the sausage, you can add a tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil to help with the sauteing).
Step 2: Add remaining ingredients: white beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, chili seasoning, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. If you love more vegetables in your chili consider adding diced green pepper, red pepper or even sweet potato.
Beans do not need to be rinsed or drained. Include the juices from the cans of all ingredients. If you want to rinse your beans, follow our instructions below under "Expert Tips".
Step 3: Stir and heat over medium until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 4: Remove from heat.
Step 5: Serve with freshly grated cheese, green onions, jalapeno slices, sour cream, tortilla chips, corn chips and/or homemade cornbread! Try making our homemade cornbread muffins.
While the traditional accompaniment to chili is cornbread, you might also consider these sides that are popular regionally:
Rice: Pour over your favorite rice. We usually use a longer grain rice, most often Basmati.
Chips: Add tortilla or corn chips to your chili. You can break them up into pieces or leave them whole to break as you eat them.
Nachos: Add to your sheet pan nachos!
Baked Potatoes: Bake up some large baking potatoes and top them with this classic chili recipe and some cheddar cheese. Don't forget the sour cream!
More Game Day Recipes
Cheesy Spinach Dip: This dip is a fan favorite! You can't go wrong with this one!
Buffalo Chicken Dip: Yes, sign me up for this one! Always a family favorite. Simple ingredients and tasty recipe.
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Dip: You'll want to see this one.
Use a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot. Three bean chili can also be made in an instant pot or slow cooker. Saute meat and onions prior to adding all ingredients into the instant pot/slow cooker. (Meat and onions can be sauteed directly in the instant pot using the saute function.)
What to do if you prefer to drain and rinse your beans. If you’d like to use black beans, drain and rinse before adding to the pot. Add in ½ cup water along with them.
If you like a soupier chili, simply add 1-2 cups of water or beef broth to the recipe. We do not recommend using chicken broth unless you're using ground chicken.
Chli freezes really well and is great for storing for a quick meal later. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or thaw in the microwave just long enough to get it into a pot to reheat on the stove.
How To Make It Spicier
Do you love spicy chili? Prefer a medium heat or a burn your mouth off flavor? Need chili with a kick? Try these ways of making your game day hot.
- Saute jalapenos or other hot peppers along with the onions and meat for a kick.
- Simmer crushed red pepper flakes to add spice.
- Use spicy sausage.
- Add a can of chilis when you add your tomatoes.
- Add more cayenne pepper.
Substitute homemade chili seasoning for the spice packets. Spice packets are super convenient, but you can customize your own seasoning and spice level by mixing up homemade seasoning.
Substitute Rotel (tomatoes with chilis) in lieu of the regular diced tomatoes. It adds some nice flavor and a tiny bit of spice.
Use your favorite beans. Use any combination of the beans that you prefer - 5-6 cans of beans is perfect for this recipe.
Meat substitutes: Substitute any kind of meat for either the sausage or the ground beef. We use ground turkey, all ground beef, and even ground chicken. You can use different types of flavored sausage as well - mild, hot, italian, sage, etc.
Want to save your pot of chili for the next day? Leftover chili is better on the second day! Or maybe save it for a month down the road? There are two good ways for storing it in either the refrigerator or freezer. If you use a plastic container the tomatoes will stain the container. I
I love a good glass container with an airtight lid for storing this recipe. If you're freezing in glass, make sure it is freezer safe and you leave air at the top so the container doesn't break. I like to put a layer of freezer paper over the top of the chili to prevent freezer burn.
Gallon ziploc freezer bags are great for storing this family favorite. Fill the back, remove as much air as possible then seal. Lay it flat and spread it out evenly. Freeze flat so it takes up as little room as possible in the freezer and takes less time defrosting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Transfer your chili to an airtight container. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If you won't eat it during that time you should freeze it.
Transfer your chili to an airtight container or a freezer zip top bag. Cover and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Alternatively, Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or thaw in the microwave just long enough to get the chili into a pot to reheat on the stove.
This chili recipe is naturally gluten free. Check your ingredients to make sure no gluten was added.
This chili is naturally dairy free!
Some of our favorite things to serve with chili are cornbread, nachos, baked potatoes, rice, taco salad, grilled cheese sandwiches, and mac-n-cheese.
- 1 cup diced yellow onion - one medium onion
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground sausage
- 2 - 15.5 oz. cans of white beans
- 2 - 15.5 oz. cans of pinto beans
- 15.5 oz. can of red kidney beans
- 2 packets chili seasoning
- 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 12 oz. tomato paste
- grated cheddar cheese
- Green onions
- Sour cream
- Add ground beef, ground sausage, and onion to an 8-Quart dutch oven or stockpot. Saute onion and meat until the onion is soft and translucent and the meats are no longer pink. (If you are using lean meats or swapping out the sausage, you can add a tablespoon of olive or canola oil to help with the sauteeing).
- Add remaining ingredients: white beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, chili seasoning, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Beans do not need to be rinsed or drained. Include the juices from the cans of all ingredients.
- Stir and heat over medium until chili comes to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat.
- Serve with freshly grated cheese, green onions, jalapeno slices, sour cream, chips and/or cornbread!