Easy Chili con Carne Recipe
Make a big pot of this easy chili con carne recipe, and let it simmer away until dinner time! Perfectly balanced seasonings & tons of hidden veg.
I promised you an amazing chili con carne recipe when I shared my legendary cornbread, and now here it is!
This is one of my FAVORITE things to make (especially in fall and winter) because it’s so EASY and it’s really good.
I’ve been making it for years now, and I absolutely adore the chili seasoning recipe! The different herbs and spices blend together in the most harmonious way. It’s got plenty of spices but it’s not spicy-hot (although you could make it that way!), so my whole family likes it.
And in this house of picky eaters, that’s saying a lot!
Table of Contents
- What is chili con carne?
- What makes this the best chili recipe?
- What does it taste like?
- Ingredients and notes
- Tools and equipment
- How to make this chili recipe
- Instant pot chili
- Crockpot chili
- How to serve chili
- Chili recipe variations
- Chili recipe FAQ’s
- A few more of my favorite game day recipes
What is chili con carne?
“Con carne” just means “with meat,” so this is an easy chili recipe made with meat.
It also has a knockout blend of seasonings, featuring chili powder prominently.
And I like to add a lot of veggies as well, to make it a really balanced one-pot meal.
What makes this the best chili recipe?
- Incredible flavor: It’s rich and meaty, with a robust flavor that’s not too spicy.
- Hidden veggies: I’m always looking for delicious ways to get healthy vegetables into my loved ones, and they’re barely noticeable in this homemade chili recipe!
- Easy to make: The whole meal is made in just one pot, so there’s minimal cleanup. And it can be ready to eat in as little as 30 minutes!
- Versatile: This can also work as a crockpot chili recipe or an instant pot chili recipe (more on that below). And you can swap out different ingredients to suit your family’s personal tastes.
What does it taste like?
This is a pretty classic chili recipe, so you’ll find all the flavors you’d expect here.
It’s tomato-ey, with a rich, beefy backnote and a beautifully harmonious hum of traditional chili seasonings.
You’ll taste chili powder, garlic, cumin, and oregano.
And it’s inspired by Mexican mole poblano sauce so there’s also cocoa and a whisper of cinnamon. These are my secret weapon! They take this chili from good to fan-freaking-tastic!
I also like to toss in as many beans and veggies as I can. They add a subtle sweetness as well as lots of added fiber and nutrition.
Ingredients and notes
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this simple chili recipe.
To saute and brown all the ingredients in. I typically use extra-virgin olive oil, but you can pretty much use any kind of cooking oil you like here.
I used to use turkey exclusively, but recently I started making beef chili and I love the added richness and flavor! Look for 85% lean ground beef. It has the best taste, imho.
You could use a leaner blend, or you could use ground chicken, beef cubes, or even a vegetarian meat substitute if you like.
Or you could leave out the protein altogether and just make this as a vegetable chili.
Chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, cocoa powder (regular unsweetened or Dutch processed), and cinnamon come together with salt and pepper to created a spice blend that is complex and harmonious yet not fire-y hot.
If you’d like to make spicy chili, add crushed red pepper and/or cayenne pepper to taste.
Stock or broth
The stock and the tomatoes come together to form the basis of the sauce.
Tomato paste lends a sweet richness and crushed tomatoes give a hearty texture and slight acidity.
Just get the regular canned crushed tomatoes, you don’t need any added ingredients like garlic or basil.
If you don’t like beans you can leave them out, or you can use just one or two kinds… it’s up to you!
For what you see here, I’ve used bell peppers, onions, and corn.
But sometimes I’ll add in a diced sweet potato or butternut squash (goes great with the black beans), a few handfuls of greens such as spinach or kale, or even a head of rough-chopped cauliflower. Cauliflower has a texture very similar to ground meat so it blends in a way that you almost don’t know it’s there!
This one might be slightly controversial, but let me assure you that the end result will not taste sweet.
The sugar just mellows everything out so the chili isn’t too acidic or bitter. It really helps to keep everything in balance.
That said, you can leave it out if you like, or swap it for any other kind of sweetener.
Tools and equipment
You’ll just need a few kitchen basics to make this.
- Burner: I like to cook this recipe on my stovetop because I’m kind of a minimalist when it comes to appliances, but you could also make this on a hot plate or in a slow cooker or instant pot.
- Pot: I like a large, heavy-bottomed pot. An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is my go-to.
- Spoon: For stirring the ingredients as they cook. Go for a wooden spoon or silicone spoon.
How to make this chili recipe
You are going to love how quick and easy this recipe is. Just saute everything together and let it bubble away on the stove until dinner time.
Step 1: Saute the meat, spices, and vegetables
Start by browning the meat, spices, bell pepper, and onion in a big pot over medium heat, along with a little bit of oil, salt, and pepper. The spices will toast up and their flavors will intensify, and they’ll coat every inch of the meat and veggies. So good!
If you’re adding sweet potato or cauliflower, those can go in at this time too.
Once the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are becoming tender, add in a can of tomato paste.
Push the other ingredients out of the way and create a little well, so that the tomato paste makes good contact with the bottom of the pot. You want to allow it to caramelize a little, and create a film on the bottom of the pot.
This film goes by the fancy French name: “fond,” and it’s the best kept secret to incredibly rich and complex flavor!
Step 2: Pour in liquid
Next you can pour in the stock.
Use your spoon to scrape the fond off the bottom of the pot and into the chili, as you pour the stock in. Not only will this add flavor to the dish but it will also make cleanup easier later!
Step 3: Add the veggies
Finally, add in the crushed tomatoes, corn, and beans.
If you are using greens, they can also go in at this stage.
Step 4: Simmer
Turn the heat down to low and let everything simmer away until you’re ready to eat, then check for seasoning and add the sugar if needed.
Once the veggies are tender it’s ready to eat, or you can keep it bubbling on the stove all afternoon.
If you like a thinner, almost soup-like chili, take the pot off the heat and eat it right away.
If you like your chili thick and hearty, simmer it longer without a lid, or with the lid slightly ajar. As you can probably tell, I like my chili thick so I let it simmer for a few hours.
Just keep the flame really low, and stir it every so often to be sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Instant pot chili
If you’d like to make this recipe in your instant pot, you really don’t have to change a thing about it!
Saute the meat, veggies, spices, and tomato paste on medium heat as noted, then add in the rest and turn it down to a low simmer.
To make a crockpot version of this chili, just saute the meat, veggies, spices, then add the tomato paste and stock before adding to the slow cooker. Then add the tomatoes, beans, and corn and let it cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.
How to serve chili
To me there is nothing better on a cool, gray day than a bowl of hearty chili! I love it so much I’m happy to just eat it as-is.
But it’s even better with toppings! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper the better!)
- A dollop of sour cream
- Fresh avocado slices or chunks
- Thinly sliced scallions
- Roughly chopped cilantro
Or try spooning this chili over corn chips! It’s great as a topping for nachos, or on your hot dogs or baked potatoes.
Chili recipe variations
You can definitely play around with this recipe and make it your own. There’s lots of little tweaks you can make!
I like to make my chili with ground beef, but you could also use turkey. Turkey tastes almost identical, but beef definitely gives more of a hearty richness.
Chili without beans
There’s a lot of debate over whether or not chili should have beans!
It’s totally up to you if you want to add them or not.
Personally, I like beans in my chili and my favorite kind are dark red kidney beans, black beans, and white beans.
But you could also add chick peas, pinto beans, or whatever you like! Or leave the beans out entirely.
This chili recipe has lots of robust herbs and spices, but no real heat.
If you want to add some fire to this chili recipe, top it with jalapeno peppers and/or sriracha sauce.
Or for a spicy chili base, add a pinch or two of crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper to it. That will really bring the heat!
Just add a little bit at a time, and taste after each addition. Once too much goes in, there’s really not much you can do to cool it back down.
Chili recipe FAQ’s
My chili is too runny, what should I do?
If you want a thicker, heartier chili, just simmer it longer! The liquids will boil off and evaporate, and you’ll be left with a really chunky, robust result.
My chili is too thick, what should I do?
Just stir in water or additional stock, a little at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.
How can I make a spicy hot chili?
Or add cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.
I added too much pepper! What now?
It’s really hard to cool things down once too much pepper has gone in. You really want to be careful to just add in a little at a time, tasting as you go.
Sometimes an extra pinch of sugar can help!
But your best bet is probably just to top it with some sour cream. That can really cool the fire!
How long does homemade chili last?
Place any leftovers in an airtight container, and allow them to cool completely before refrigerating. They should last in the fridge for a week to 10 days, or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
Reheat it on the stovetop, in the crockpot, or in the microwave. Just heat it gently, stirring, until it comes to a low simmer. If it seems too thick, it can be diluted with a little water or stock.
A few more of my favorite game day recipes
Now is the perfect time to make a big pot of chili! Hope you enjoy this recipe- it’s definitely a top favorite for us!
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Easy Chili con Carne Recipe
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) olive oil
- 1 pound (453.59 g) ground beef, 85% lean
- 1 (119 g) bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 (110 g) onion, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (12 g) chili powder
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon (6 g) ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (9 g) kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon (1 g) cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) ground black pepper
- 6 ounces (170.1 g) tomato paste
- 32 ounces (907.19 g) beef stock, or broth
- 28 ounces (793.79 g) crushed tomatoes
- 16 ounces (453.59 g) frozen corn kernels
- 15 ounces (425.24 g) canned dark red kidney beans, drained
- 15 (15 g) canned black beans, drained
- 15 ounces (425.24 g) canned white beans, drained
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) sugar, if needed
- Place a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.
- When the pot is hot and the oil is shimmering, add the ground beef, bell pepper, onion, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, salt, cocoa, cinnamon, and pepper.
- When the meat has cooked through and the veggies are becoming tender, create a well in the center of the pot and add the tomato paste.
- Cook the tomato paste, stirring, until browned and a film is appearing on the bottom of the pot.
- Pour in the stock, scraping the film off the bottom of the pot with your spoon, to bring it up into the liquid.
- Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker (if using) and add the crushed tomatoes, beans, and corn.
- Taste, add sugar if needed, and allow to simmer over very low heat (stirring occasionally), until the vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes, or up to 6 hours).*