The Best Beef Chili Recipe - 3 Ways! (2024)

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Made with both ground beef and beans, plus canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, and a homemade blend of chili seasonings, this is truly the Best Chili Recipe! Hearty, filling, and ready in under an hour, you can make this easy beef chili in the slow cooker or Instant Pot or on the stovetop.

The Best Beef Chili Recipe - 3 Ways! (1)

The Best Beef Chili Recipe

If you have ground beef, this classic chili recipe is a quick dinner idea! It’s filling and hearty, with a high-fiber content, thanks to the beans. This recipe is my go-to chili because it’s mild enough for the whole family and ready in less than 30 minutes. Plus, the leftovers freeze well. More chili recipes we love are this Chicken Taco Chili (a fan favorite!) and White Bean Turkey Chili. And if you prefer chili soup, try this Turkey Taco Chili Soup.

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I modified this chili recipe from this recipe on the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. website. I changed it by adding some tomato sauce and my own blend of chili spices. I think it’s the best chili recipe when you want a quick dinner, and it’s easy to modify for your family’s taste. It’s thick and hearty, without flour or cornstarch.

Why You’ll Love This Easy Chili Recipe

With so many different chili recipes out there, why is this one the best?

  • Quick and easy. Unlike some chilis that require hours to simmer, this recipe can be prepared in under 30 minutes. Perfect for those busy weeknights!
  • 3 ways to make it. You can make this beef chili on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, or in the slow cooker. Instructions for all three methods are included below.
  • Versatile and easy to customize. You can swap the beef for ground turkey, add some jalapenos for a bit of heat, or use different beans. I keep it mild for the family but you’re free to spice it up too.
  • Makes great leftovers. The only thing better than chili for dinner is leftover chili for lunch! Leftovers last for several days in the fridge and freeze well too.

What’s The Secret To Great Chili?

A few things! Lots of spices like cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, etc. And the secret ingredient – beer!

Beer adds flavor to the chili. I use a light beer but you can try a local beer, an ale, or lager if you want something milder. Or an IPA or rich stout for a bit more flavor. If you prefer to make this without alcohol, feel free to substitute the beer with beef stock or broth!

What You’ll Need

This classic chili recipe is made with both ground beef and beans, plus tomatoes and a handful of spices. See the recipe card below for exact measurements.

  • Lean Ground Beef: You can use ground turkey if you prefer.
  • Vegetables:Chopped red bell pepper and onion add flavor to the chili recipe.
  • Black Beans: Black beans are a classic chili ingredient and add substance to the recipe. You can swap the black beans for red kidney beans or white beans if you prefer.
  • Tomatoes:I used canned mild diced tomatoes with green chilis and canned tomato sauce. You could also add some tomato paste in place of the canned tomato sauce.
  • Beer: I used Corona Light, but any light beer will work, or even an ale, IPA, or local beer. It is optional, so swap it for beef broth if you prefer.
  • Spices: Cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper all help create that classic chili flavor.

How to Make This Beef Chili Recipe

You can make this beef chili three ways: stovetop, Instant Pot, and slow cooker. The directions are similar for each method.

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  • Brown the beef. For all methods, start by browning the beef in a pot or the Instant Pot until it crumbles.
  • Instant Pot. To make this chili recipe in the Instant Pot, saute the onion and bell pepper then add the remaining ingredients. Set on high pressure for 20 minutes and allow natural release.
  • Stovetop. Saute the onion and bell pepper until soft, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for at least 60 minutes.
  • Crockpot. Add the browned beef to the crockpot then add all of the other ingredients. Stir and cook on low for 8 hours.
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What If My Chili Is Too Thin?

One of the things I love about this easy chili recipe is that it’s naturally quite thick and I’ve never had to thicken it. However, if you prefer your chili even thicker, you have a few options.

The easiest is just to let it simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes. The other option is to create a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch + water) and stir that in. Both options will work!

Recipe Tips & Variations

This beef chili recipe is pretty versatile and easy to make. Here are a few suggestions for perfecting the recipe, as well as simple variations.

  • Which method is best? My favorite way is the pressure cooker – the lean ground beef comes out much more tender than it does on the stove. But if you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry. The other two methods are great too!
  • Spice it up. Prefer your chili on the spicy side? Add some jalapeño or cayenne pepper and more chili powder.
  • Skip the beer. While I love the flavor the beer adds to this recipe, if you prefer to cook without alcohol you can either opt for an alcohol-free beer or use beef or veggie broth instead.
  • Use whatever beans you prefer. I like black beans but kidney beans and white beans also work well.
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Chili Topping Ideas

What makes a chili complete, in my opinion, are the toppings. I like to offer a handful of different options so that everyone can customize their own bowl. A dollop of sour cream, some diced red onions, and fresh cilantro are a must for me!

Other chili topping ideas include:

  • Lime wedges
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Avocado slices
  • Jalapeno slices
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What to Serve with this Chili Recipe

This beef chili recipe can be a complete meal since it’s full of protein and fiber and has complex carbohydrates and veggies. Here’s a few ways to serve:

  • I like to add some corn or tortilla chips for dipping or crushed on the top as well.
  • If you’d like to pair a side dish with this, try a side salad or cornbread.
  • But beyond a classic bowl of chili, there are so many other ways to serve this too – especially leftovers!
  • I’m obsessed with cutting open a small avocado, removing the pit, and filling it with chili and some toppings. Folks, it is SO good!
  • You could also put it in acorn squash, baked potatoes, and stuffed peppers.
  • Make a chili dog and serve it over a turkey hot dog.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Beef chili makes excellent leftovers! Here’s how to store them properly.

  • Fridge. Leftover chili can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer. To freeze, transfer the chili to a freezer-safe airtight container or bags and freeze for up to three months. To defrost, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat. Individual servings of beef chili can be reheated in the microwave. Larger servings are easier to reheat on the stovetop.

More Ground Beef Recipes You’ll Love

  • Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
  • Madison’s Favorite Beef Tacos
  • Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs
  • Chunky Beef, Cabbage, and Tomato Soup
  • Baked Beef and Cheese Manicotti (Cannelloni)

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Quick Beef Chili Recipe (Instant Pot, Stove or Slow Cooker)

4.90 from 85 votes






Made with both ground beef and beans, plus canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, and a homemade blend of chili seasonings, this is truly the Best Chili Recipe! Hearty, filling, and ready in under an hour, you can make this easy beef chili in the slow cooker or Instant Pot or on the stovetop.

Course: Dinner, Lunch

Cuisine: American

The Best Beef Chili Recipe - 3 Ways! (10)

Prep: 10 minutes mins

Cook: 30 minutes mins

Total: 40 minutes mins

Print Rate Pin SaveWW Points

Yield: 4 Servings

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 pound ground Beef, 93% lean
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 10 ounce can mild diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup light beer such as corona light, Or swap for 3/4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (check labels for GF)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • black pepper, to taste

Optional Toppings:

  • chopped red onions, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, sour cream, cheddar, avocado


Pressure cooker chili recipe:

  • Press saute on the Instant Pot, brown the beef and season with salt. Cook breaking beef into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

  • Add the onion and bell pepper and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer and spices.

  • Cover and cook on high pressure 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Natural release. Taste for salt and adjust as needed, serve with toppings, as desired.

Classic chili recipe (stove):

  • Heat a large pot on medium-high heat, brown the beef and season with salt. Cook breaking beef into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

  • Add the onion and bell pepper and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer and spices.

  • Cover and cook low heat at least 60 minutes to blend the flavors, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt and adjust as needed, serve with toppings, as desired.

Slow Cooker Directions:

  • Brown the meat then cook on low 8 hours. Taste for salt and adjust as needed, serve with toppings, as desired.

Last Step:

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Alcohol-free: If you don’t like cooking with alcohol you can use an alcohol-free beer or swap with broth.

Variations: Swap the black beans for kidney beans or white beans. If you want to spice things up add jalapeno and use more chili powder.

How To freeze chili: Let the chili cool then transfer to a freezer safe container or freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months. To defrost, transfer the chili to the refrigerator to thaw overnight then reheat on the stove or microwave.

Refrigerate chili up to 4 days.


Serving: 1 1/2 cups, Calories: 312 kcal, Carbohydrates: 22.5 g, Protein: 31.5 g, Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 71 mg, Sodium: 629.5 mg, Fiber: 8.5 g, Sugar: 2.5 g

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The Best Beef Chili Recipe - 3 Ways! (2024)


What is the secret to really good chili? ›

Instead of adding water to your chili, add some more flavor with chicken or beef broth, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or even beet or wine. Each one of these options brings out different notes and levels of sweetness that will enhance your culinary creation.

What is 3 way vs 4 way vs 5 way chili? ›

Three-way: spaghetti, chili, and cheese. Four-way onion: spaghetti, chili, onions, and cheese. Four-way bean: spaghetti, chili, beans, and cheese. Five-way: spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, and cheese.

What secret ingredient will deepen the flavor of your chili? ›

Stir some puréed pumpkin into your chili just after sautéing your aromatics (onions, garlic, etc...) and before adding any liquid. This will deepen and sweeten its flavor, making it a great balance for all the chile peppers and heat.

What is the most important spice in chili? ›

Most Common Chili Spices. Cumin, Chile Powders, and Paprika are the most common spices in chili followed by garlic, onion, coriander, Mexican oregano, and bay leaves. These ingredients can be combined to create a savory and well-balanced pot of top notch comfort food.

What is the magic ingredient for chili? ›

A cup of strong, brewed coffee will work wonders for your pot of chili, imparting a deep, roasted flavor that will make the chili taste like it simmered away all day long.

What adds the most flavor to chili? ›

If you want more of a smoky flavor, add cumin, Spanish paprika, ancho chili powder, or a combination. If you are looking for more heat, add cayenne, crushed red pepper, or Hungarian paprika. If it's too spicy add a little brown sugar and some sweet paprika.

Should I use red or white onion in chili? ›

"Flavor-wise, the cooked dishes will taste virtually the same using red, yellow, or white onion," says Weinstein. "Red and yellow onions are interchangeable in dishes where the onions won't be seen, such as chili or brown sauce," he adds.

What goes first chili beef or onions? ›

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions, garlic, and red pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the beef and increase the heat to high.

Is it better to cook chili high or low? ›

The Best Way to Cook Chili:

The low and slow cooking process melds the flavors of the chili seasoning into every bite and the beef becomes so tender, juicy, and irresistible. You can slow cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.

How to make chili taste richer? ›

Cocoa powder, bacon, cinnamon, ground coffee and tomato paste will all add a rich sweet & salty flavors that are sure to surprise and delight. Warming spice blends, like Garam Masala, Ras el Hanout or Baharat are another simple and delicious way to add layered flavors to this simple one-pot meal.

Does chili need tomato paste? ›

Tomato paste may come in a small can (or tube), but it packs a powerful punch and is an essential flavor building block for dishes like chili and beef stew.

How do you increase the flavor of beef in chili? ›

To enhance the flavor of your chili, brown the meat before adding it to the pot. This step not only caramelizes the meat, but gives your chili more texture, adding a depth that cannot be achieved by simply simmering it in the chili.

What makes the best chili meat? ›

The best chili meat is a combination of meats, often a mix of ground chuck, ground sirloin, brisket, diced tri-tip, and/or some bacon or sausage. Do your best to mix smaller pieces with larger pieces to stack textures and make it your own! Happy cooking!

What does paprika do for chili? ›

Think of paprika as the gentler, sweeter cousin of hot chili peppers. It enlivens your favorite dishes with fruity notes and a toasty red color without ever taking over the show.

Should I put butter in my chili? ›

Butter smooths out the bitterness and adds its unique richness, making you take another bite without quite knowing why. A dash of sugar and vinegar gives a sweet-sour flavor that also makes the sauce rounder and more satisfying.

What makes can chili taste better? ›

Although canned chili will already have some seasonings, fresh herbs and spices will add bolder flavor. You can upgrade your chili using ingredients you likely already have on your spice rack, such as chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper.

What is the secret to competition chili? ›

Additional Depth of Flavor

Ingredients like tomato paste, cinnamon, coffee and liquid smoke can all add flavor hints that will make your chili cook-off entry unique. Roast your vegetables and use broth or beer instead of water for even more flavor in your pot.

Why doesn't my chili taste good? ›

Not Cooking It Long Enough

A low and slow cook time—at least an hour total—is key for drawing out the most flavor in a pot of chili.


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