Beef Chili

April 3, 2011

This basic chili  is one of the first foods I ever made on my own away from my parents’ house, and it remains one of my favorite cold-weather comfort foods to this day. Having been raised in the northeast United States, I’m not one to get into arguments over what constitutes a proper chili, whether with or without beans (and other veggies), or ground meat versus whole chunks. This recipe is an average ground beef and kidney bean chili, and it includes onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes as well as the meat, which is just the way I like it. Although the recipe calls for red bell pepper, I often use green due to cost difference. I haven’t noticed any difference in the flavor, so I assume the red pepper is simply for color uniformity.

My family’s tradition for eating chili has always been to serve it over corn chips – I love the contrasting textures of the crunchy chips and the chunky chili. (Can you see a pattern in my prior comments on recipes concerning food textures yet? Don’t get me started on how I insist on making my brownies, haha!) I still have the enormous pot that I bought in college that easily holds a double-recipe; since this chili freezes so well, there’s never a reason NOT to double it! Even if you’re not planning on freezing any, it’s still best if made a day or two before serving since the flavor improves with age.

Beef chili

Serves 8


  • 6  medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2  medium onions, chopped medium
  • 1  medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped medium
  • 1/4  cup chili powder
  • 1  tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2  teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1  teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1  teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2  pounds 85% lean ground beef
  • 2  (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1  (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1  (28 ounce) can tomato puree
  • Salt

Optional toppings

  • Limes, cut into wedges
  • Shredded cheese
  • Diced red onion
  • Corn chips


  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds. Add the onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add half the beef. Cook, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon,, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining beef and cook, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until the chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Add additional salt to taste. Serve with desired toppings.

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