This thick and hearty classic chili comes together in 30 minutes! Or if needed you can easily make this in the slow cooker. Juicy ground beef and beans are simmered in a tomato sauce seasoned with a simple, yet bold homemade seasoning blend.


All about this Classic Easy Chili Recipe…

  • This ground beef chili recipe comes together in 30 minutes making it a perfect weeknight family dinner that everyone will love. 
  • Control the spice: depending on who you are cooking for you may want a more mild chili or a spicier chili. Easily control the amount of spice by adding cayenne or hot sauce. 
  • Slow Cooker OR 30 Minute meal: there are directions included to make this in the slow cooker or on the stovetop. This lets you set this up in the morning to enjoy later or if you have time in the evening for a 30 minute meal you can follow the stovetop directions. 



Notes on Some Ingredients: 

  • Ground Beef: 80/20 is a good choice flavor-wise. Drain any excess grease after cooking the meat. You can always substitute for ground turkey or chicken if desired. 
  • Light Brown Sugar: this helps cut through the acidity with the tomatoes and gives a balanced flavor. You could substitute with honey, or leave out if a no sugar meal is needed. 
  • Beans: use beans that have no salt added, this allows you to control the salt. If you have regular canned beans you will need to taste the chili before adding salt to ensure that it’s not over salted. Avoid cans that are labeled Chili beans since these are beans that come with added flavoring in a chili sauce.

How to make (step-by-step):

  • Step 1: Cook the beef: regardless if you are making this recipe in a slow cooker or on the stovetop the beef needs to be cooked first. Break the meat up and cook until browned and no longer pink. Cook the onion with the meat until it’s softened.
  • Step 2: Combine the additional ingredients. Add the seasonings to the meat and allow to cook to bloom the flavors, then either add the meat to the slow cooker, or using the same pot add in the beans, green chiles, tomato sauce and brown sugar.
  • Step 3: Simmer, let the chili come to a low simmer, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes. OR cook on low in a slow cooker for 4-6 hours.

Expert Tips: 

  • Drain and rinse beans: this will remove excess salt and starch and can also remove any metallic flavoring that may come from being canned. 
  • Freezing: allow to cool to room temperature and then store in freezer safe containers or bags. This can be stored in the freezer for 2-3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a pot over medium until heated through. 
  • Variations & Substitutions: Chili is a great recipe to sneak in extra veggies. Add in some potatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, sweet potato, squash or mushrooms. 
  • Broth: this chili is thick and hearty, and to make it that way we are not using any broth. If you want a more broth-y chili you can add 1-2 cups of beef broth or even a beer.


What do you top chili with? 

Some popular options include: shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced green onion, diced onion, cilantro, crackers or chips, avocado, and lime wedges.

Is it spelled chili or chilli?

It can be spelled either way. Chili is the typical way you will see it spelled in the US. Other European countries will use a chilli spelling.

What is the spice level?

I would say this particular recipe is mild. If you are concerned about heat feel free to start with less chili powder and add to taste. If you are wanting more heat feel free to add a diced jalapeño and sauté with the onions. 

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Recipe first published February 16, 2018. Updated September 3, 2021 with new images and information. Recipe is unchanged.

Photography done by the talented