There are two ingredients that make this easy beef and three-bean chili recipe from killer to kick-ass: beer and enchilada sauce. Taste it and discover for yourself.


Eating a big bowl of chili is one of those wintery rituals that fills the soul. Add a wedge of cornbread for dipping and things only get better. Chili is one of those dishes that is ultimately flexible. Turkey and corn give this Deer Valley Turkey Chili a Southwest feel whereas Chicken and White Bean Chili with Butternut Squash has a lighter feel.   

I first made this beef and three-bean chili recipe before some of my readers were even born. Ground beef and beans are the beautiful body of the stew, but two unusual chili ingredients, enchilada sauce, and beer are what give this rich and hearty chili a totally kick-ass flavor. Serve this with my favorite cornbread, for the ultimate cozy, cool-weather meal.


What’s in This Three Bean Chili?

You need very few ingredients to achieve that — ahem — killer beefy chili flavor. There are two not-so-secret ingredients that take this chili recipe from killer to kick-ass: beer and enchilada sauce.

Here’s what you’ll need for this meat and bean chili recipe:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Butter
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Herbs and spices (chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon)
  • Ground beef (you could easily sub ground turkey if you wanted)
  • Beans (I like a mix of chili, pinto, and kidney, but you could use black beans as well)
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Beer (I like a lager)
  • Jalapeños (for topping), though green onions or fresh cilantro would be yummy as well


How to Make Three Bean and Beef Chili

The beauty of any homemade chili recipe is that it’s almost always a dump-and-cook kind of meal.

For maximum chili flavor, add the spices to the vegetables as they cook, rather than simply adding the spices to the sauce. Cook the garlic, onion, and bell peppers in a large Dutch oven until soft then add the spices. This method infuses the vegetables with aromatics and deepens the earthy sauce.

Add the ground beef to the veggies and cook until the meat is browned. I use ground sirloin for my beef. A suitable chuck or even ground round will do. Or, try 1 pound of pork sausage with 1 pound of ground beef.

Add the remaining ingredients and let the mixture simmer, covered, for at least an hour.

Remove the lid and simmer for another hour before serving.

Serve as is or add some chili toppings. Add a dollop of sour cream, diced onion, sliced jalapeño, and a sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese. Corn chips add a great crunch, too. 


What are the Best Beans for Chili?

I use a rainbow of three different canned beans in this recipe: dark red kidney beans, lighter pinto beans, and chili beans, which are beans cooked in a mild sauce. I use canned beans because it’s quick and easy and nobody has ever complained that I did. 

Is There a Beer Substitute I Can Use?

The alcohol in the beer completely cooks out of the chili while it simmers on the stove. If you don’t want to use alcohol, substitute beef or chicken broth. The flavor won’t be quite as rich, but your beef chili will still be killer.


Can I Freeze Chili?

Yes, chili freezes incredibly well. Let it cool to room temperature then ladle it into freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. The chili can be popped into the fridge overnight to thaw or reheated from frozen on the stove.


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