Our favorite Classic Chili recipe win’s awards every year, is easy to make, and loaded with meat, beans, and the perfect blend of chili seasonings. You can make it on the stove or slow cooker and leftovers freeze wonderfully.

A bowl of the best classic chili recipe, topped with cheese and sour cream and a side of cornbread.

What I love about this Chili recipe:

  • Award Winning: A quick, traditional chili recipe with meat and beans is something everyone should have in their recipe box. Every year readers reach out excited to report that this recipe won their chili cook-off!
  • Adaptable: Feel free to jazz it up by adding bacon or extra sautéed veggies. To make it vegetarian, omit the meat and add extra beans. Or, try my Turkey Chili, or Spicy Chili.
  • Many ways to serve it: We always adore chili as it’s own main dish with a side of cornbread, but I also love it served over Baked Potatoes, Cornbread Waffles, chili dogs, Stuffed Spaghetti Squash, Nachos, or French Fries to make Chili Fries.

How to Make this Classic Chili Recipe:

Brown Meat: Cook the onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes until they are tender and start to get a little bit golden and caramelized. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook until browned, breaking it apart. Remove grease.

Beef and sausage browned with onion in a large pot.

Add Remaining Ingredients: Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato juice, ketchup, beans, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and cayenne.

All of the ingredients dumped in a pot to make easy homemade chili.

Simmer: Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer over medium-low heat for at least one hour, or up to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

A classic chili recipe in a large pot, ready to serve.

Serve this quick chili recipe in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese on top. I love serving chili with cornbread, biscuits, or a green salad.

A bowl of homemade chili topped with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Recipe Variations:

  • Add Bacon: cooked bacon would add a fun flavor twist.
  • More Veggies: Chopped, sautéed bell pepper and celery, or even cooked cubes of butternut squash, or pumpkin would all be delicious.
  • Meatless: Leave out the ground beef and sausage and double the amount of beans called for.
  • Spicy Chili: As written, this chili is very mild. If you’d like to make it spicier, add more cayenne pepper, chopped jalapeños (canned or fresh), hot sauce, or make my delicious Spicy Chili recipe!
  • Crockpot Chili: Cook the onion and brown the meat in a large skillet. Add the remaining ingredients to a large slow cooker and stir in the cooked meat and onions. Cook on low for 5-7 hours.
  • Instant Pot Chili: Turn Instant Pot to sauté and brown the onion and meats. Discard the grease. Add everything else and cook on high pressure for 20-30 minutes to concentrate the flavors quicker than on the stovetop.   

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: Leftover chili will keep well stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Heat on the stove until hot before serving with your favorite toppings.

To Freeze: Freeze chili for up to 3 months, in a freezer-safe bag or container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then rewarm on the stove or in microwave.

Side Dish Ideas:

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Recipe

A bowl of the best classic chili recipe, topped with cheese and sour cream and a side of cornbread.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 2 hours 10 minutes
Total 2 hours 20 minutes
Save Recipe

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

Instructions
 

  • Add the olive oil to a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the ground beef and sausage to the pot and cook, breaking apart into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned. Drain any grease.
  • Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato juice, ketchup, beans, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and cayenne.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer over medium-low heat for at least one hour, or up to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
  • Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese on top.

Notes

Tomato Juice: I usually buy a 46 ounce can and use the extra in a veggie/fruit smoothie or save it for another soup. A tomato juice substitute for this recipe is 2 cups tomato sauce mixed with 2 cups of water.
Meatless Chili: Omit the meat and add double the beans.
Spicy Chili: As written, this chili is very mild. If you’d like to make it spicier, add more cayenne pepper, chopped jalapeños (canned or fresh), hot sauce, or make my delicious Spicy chili recipe!
Slow Cooker: Cook the onion and brown the meat in a large skillet. Add the remaining ingredients to a large slow cooker and stir in the cooked meat and onions. Cook on low for 5-7 hours.
Instant Pot: Turn Instant Pot to sauté and brown the onion and meats. Drain the grease. Add everything else and cook on high pressure for 20-30 minutes to concentrate the flavors quicker than on the stovetop.   
Freezing Instructions: Freeze chili in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stovetop for 20-30 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 587kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 37gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 996mgPotassium: 1260mgFiber: 7gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 1846IUVitamin C: 30mgCalcium: 89mgIron: 7mg

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I originally shared this recipe August 2019. Updated October 2021 and September 2023.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. Another good recipe, thank you. I made this chili last week as a trial run for the upcoming chili cookoff. The only change I made was to slice a large jalapeno in half and toss it in to simmer and impart a little flavor and heat. I simmered on low for a full 3 hours. The jalapeno was removed after the chili was done. I’d like it a little hotter but the folks here in the Michigan U.P. don’t understand what hot is. It came out great, thank you for the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Extremely delicious recipe. Just made today. Was wondering how much one serving size is though? It says the whole recipe is 8 servings.

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