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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Comments

  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.

  3. 5 stars
    I used 1/2 cup less tomato juice than suggested, and added a little extra spice as well as some crystal hot sauce. I also doubled the brown sugar. It was beyond good.

  4. 2 stars
    I agree with some of the reviewers: too sweet and too much ketchup flavor. The red wine vinegar needs to be cut back as well. I won’t make it again.

  5. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Used Garden Cocktail instead of tomato juice. It’s what we had on hand. Turned out fantastic. Nice thing about chili, everyone can put their own twist on it.

    1. 5 stars
      Admittedly, I haven’t made the true version of this Chili, because both times I’ve been out of ketchup and had to “make” brown sugar so it’s definitely been a little dark.

      Nonetheless, it’s been a great chili recipe. Even my mother in law loved it!

  6. 5 stars
    Great recipe. However, made some minor changes. Instead of diced tomatoes, I used crushed tomatoes. Have a couple of folks in family that won’t eat “chunks” of tomatoes. This fools them! lol. Also, I added about 2 1/2 cups of beef broth. Again, in an effort to cut down tomato taste for my picky eaters. I think you could use beef bouillon if you didn’t want to add more liquid, but it really worked for us. This is the first chili recipe that the entire family liked—and I’ve been cooking a LONG time!

  7. 4 stars
    Super easy instructions and I love the amount of meat is in it however I found the ketchup flavor to be a bit over powering as well as my husband. Is that something we could omit next time? Overall really good and would try again.

    1. Shelby—my family members are picky about a strong tomato taste in foods. I added 2 1/2 cups of beef broth and it really worked out. If you didn’t want to add liquid, you could use beef bouillon. I liked the extra liquid though. Just a suggestion.

  8. 5 stars
    Brand new to the website. This tasted just like my moms chili but was a few different ingredients. One thing I like to do with this chili when you have it in your own bowl is a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice and a few sprits of reds hot sauce.

    One criticism I have for this as well as the site as a whole is it would be nice if the recipes had a serving size, not just calories per whatever serving the dish may be.

    1. The serving size is at the top of the recipe and I’m pretty sure that the nutritional info is for 1 serving…….hope that helps

  9. 5 stars
    Tried this last night. Turned out amazing!!! Family asked me to make again. My slight changes: I used tomato sauce instead of juice for a thicker consistency. I used half the called-for ketchup. Didn’t want the ketchup sugars to overpower like I have done in past. And a couple more shakes of chili powder and cayenne pepper. Marvelous. I served each bowl with a large pinch of shredded cheese and 10 corn chips (Fritos) for presentation and crunch. Thanks for the recipe. Finally! A chili we like!

  10. 5 stars
    So good! I added 2 Serrano peppers without seeds or spines, half a green bell pepper and half a large red bell pepper. Amazing!

  11. 4 stars
    I made this chili today in my slow cooker, and it came out tasting great, though not too thick. I made an adjustment using only two pounds of ground beef; no pork at all. Perhaps it would have been thicker if I had replaced the pork with a third pound of beef! At any rate, my family loved it. I will make it again.

  12. 3 stars
    This chili is not what I’m used to. It is a little like fancy baked beans with the Ketchup and brown sugar. I really enjoy this website and have made some wonderful things, but I will be going back to my usual recipe.

  13. 4 stars
    I tried it in the crockpot; went by the recipe but it needed up very soupy. I ended up having to add some tomato paste to thicken. Afterwards it was really good. Not sure if I did something wrong or what. Perhaps I should’ve drained the beans.

  14. 5 stars
    Love this recipe, my go to chili recipe. It goes in the crock-pot on high for a few hours and it’s great. Tastes even better the following day.

  15. I expected a recipe that uses dried beans, not canned beans. Since we are cooking from scratch, I am looking for a chili recipe that is totally from scratch.

  16. 5 stars
    If you don’t simmer for at least an hour the taste of the red wine vinegar will be too strong. Added more spices and simmered for 2.5 hours – delicious!

  17. 5 stars
    Love this recipe, I keep making it. Beats my version of dumping in things on a whim. Didn’t even know about red wine vinegar until now. Perfect while staying home in the big storm. Need to try your homemade cornbread with it.

  18. 5 stars
    Days are cool and evenings flirting with freezing temperatures here in Phoenix, Arizona. A perfect time to make chili and this recipe doesn’t disappoint! Easy to prepare, tastes delicious and reminds me of Mom’s chili served when I was a kid! Saved this recipe to use over and over again!

  19. 5 stars
    First time trying this recipe & me and the hubs loved it! Few variations – used ground round instead of meat (I’m vegan).. didn’t have pinto beans so I used 1 can black beans & 2 cans kidney beans. Makes a huge batch too! I’ll definitely be making this again and freezing it closer to my delivery date. ❤️

  20. The recipe was really good. The website was FREAKIN HORRIBLE! Ads were covering recipe steps and popping up all over the place….terrible

  21. 5 stars
    First time trying this recipe. Came out great. I used ground beef and lamb mix. Doctored up ingredients. My husband ate two bowls. Thnx.

  22. Made this last night for my family. I used red onion and 2 Serrano peppers. Instead of ketchup, cause I didn’t have any😂 I used sweet Vidalia bbq sauce. Used fresh garlic and did in the instapot. My boys raved over this. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. 5 stars
      Credit to the recipe author, I’d never made chili before, neither had my mother in law who was helping me. Her version of making chili is warming up a can. I’ve always just waited until my Dad was in the mood and swung by for a bowl of his.

      I did omit 1lb of hamburger… because I didn’t read the recipe correctly and only purchased 1lb.
      I also assumed I had ketchup ans brown sugar… and we didn’t. So, we tossed in a little cane sugar, a little honey, some molasses and hoped it would loosely resemble the flavors of adding ketchup and brown sugar. I can’t tell you if it did emulate the flavors because we’ve not made it correctly lol we loved it the way it came out.

  23. Perfect recipe. Only substitution is my homemade canned tomato sauce for diced tomatoes if I have any left. I use fresh garlic cloves if I have any left. Keep those recipes coming. We need them in these troubling times.

  24. 5 stars
    This is a really good chilly. I used half the amount of sausage and used a mild sausage. I added water cause my tomatoed sauce is rich. I also added a small amount of japs. Most my ingredients came from my garden. My Wife loved it.
    Thanks

  25. 4 stars
    We love this classic chili recipe. We add Rotella and canned green chillies and we let it cook down for much longer than the recipe suggests it’s very tasty after 3 whole hrs.

  26. I am making the Chilli now and will post later after I ask my husband how he liked it. Left out the tomato juice and brown sugar!!

  27. 2 stars
    Did not like the flavor at all. Had a weird “GREEK” taste , almost like sweet cinnamon for some reason which I can not understand, which I did not like. Wife thought it was OK. Will not make it again,

  28. Agree with M@… Too sweet for me. I wished I would have read these comments before I dumped all the ingredients in. Darn.

  29. 3 stars
    This recipe is way too sweet. Swap the ketchup for tomato paste and use only half the brown sugar. Other than the sweetness it’s got a great base flavor. True to description this chili has no spice. I prefer the spicier side in chili so I added more heat.

  30. This was my first time making chili, it was delicious, I’ll definitely try this recipe again.. thanks for sharing.

  31. I made this Chili tonight and we loved it! Best chili we have made! We did have to use chili beans instead of kidney beans bc the grocery store was out of them but it was still wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

  32. 5 stars
    Great Chili recipe I’ve made it a few times and added extra spice to it used jalapeño diced tomatoes and hot chili beans. Really good and not to spicy. My daughter used bison and was really good. Thanks

  33. I have to agree…lighten up Cayte. What a joke. I use recipes from here all the time. They are a wonderful adversion from processed soups and other foods. They are classic and always delicious. Thank you for your hard work!

    1. Feel free to grow your own beans. While you’re at it, grow your own olive tree, pick the fruit and crush it for its oil, then slaughter and butcher the cow and hog, mix up some sausage adding your freshly grown herbs and spices to the pork you ground, add your home-bottled wine vinegar that you made from the grapes you harvested from your vineyard, open some jars/bottles of your homegrown and canned tomatoes and juice, not forgetting your homemade ketchup you made using more of your homegrown spices. Processing your sugarcane or sugar beets into brown sugar is a laborious task, but you’re cooking from scratch., Lighten up, Cayte.

      1. 3 stars
        I agree. Lighten up. Homemade doesn’t mean you start with just the earth.
        Example –
        It’s only homemade pastries if you grew your own wheat for flour.

  34. I’ve made this chili, with variations, several times and get rave reviews. Thanks for a great base. I use black beans bc family doesn’t like the kidney and I leave out northern bc first time I made, I forgot them. I use V8 for tomato juice bc that’s what I had. I substitute bison for 1 lb of the ground beef which could do more for leaner option. Just made today to freeze for children coming in for Christmas! Thank you!

  35. 5 stars
    Yummy, easy, and delicious!! The meat takes a little while to brown, but then the whole thing just simmers hands off for a few hours and is ready by dinner. Perfect for a chilly day!

  36. I’m a 75 yr. old man who just lost his wife, now learning to cook GREAT,GREAT,GREAT, love like hers . Will look at all others THANK YOU DENNY

  37. 4 stars
    Pretty good recipe except for cooking meat after the onions. Brown the meat first and drain on paper-towel lined baking sheet. Add it back when onions are almost translucent. Also add some Hatch chiles for “zip” and masa to thicken near the end of simmer.

  38. 5 stars
    This is the absolute best recipe, quick & everyone loves it. I serve it with cheese, sour cream & tortilla chips. It’s a keeper for sure!

  39. 5 stars
    YAAASSSSS!!!! This is my first time leaving a review on a recipe before. I was nervous because the reviews weren’t *insanely* high, and that’s what I try to go for when I’m cooking a huge meal for my little family since we’ll have l its of leftovers.
    Anyway– this was DELICIOUS. I appreciate the notes about adding more spices here and there, depending on flavor. I used spicy chili beans instead of plain, and I also heaped the cayenne pepper. I added more black pepper than it called for as well, and oh-my-gosh it was so yummy! The perfect amount of heat without it being *spicy*.
    Oh! I also had a small handful of baby carrots that needed to be eaten, so I cut those up and threw them in there too. 😂 My husband is super picky, and he loved it. (I didn’t tell him there were carrots in there…) The chili was also a hit with the two teenagers, though my 4 year old protested the whole time.
    Anyway– thanks for the recipe!

  40. Honestly, I’m from Texas and this doesn’t taste anything like chili to me. It tastes more like meat soaked in barbecue sauce. It’s far too sweet and it’s just not what I think chili should taste like.

  41. 1 star
    My family has been following the weekly meal plans up to this point happily. This was the first major disappointment for us. Most of us couldn’t eat the chili resulting from the recipe as written. Way too sweet and soupy for our taste. You’re better off using the recipe as a suggestion and making the chili you already know you like. This was a major bust. Really sad after weeks of successes.

    We ended up having to throw out all of it and cook a different dinner since no one would eat it. Money wasted. Time wasted. Faith lost.

    1. Hi There just wanted to say nothing ever is always 100%! If you have been having weeks of success with only one plan that didn’t work, I’d say it’s still a win!! In know how hard it can be to find good meal plans as a busy parent, you can always leave one out or exchange it for a easy family favorite. Best wishes to you and your family.

  42. I’ve made this recipe many many times and it’s our favourite! At the moment I’m pregnant and have gestational diabetes. I see the recipe says there are 52g of carbohydrates, is that in the entire dish? Or for a serving? I’m only allowed a max of 30g or carbs at dinner so I’m just wondering how much I should serve myself to keep my numbers down! Thanks for a great recipe

    1. 5 stars
      I should add that this time I didn’t add the ketchup at all, nor any of the brown sugar. But usually we make it identical to your recipe and it’s perfect!

  43. 5 stars
    This is by far the best chili recipe in have ever made. I was a little nervous about the ketchup and brown sugar, but the chili did not taste too sweet. No changes needed to the recipe – it is perfect as is!

  44. 5 stars
    I have always loved chili but the rest of my family does not. I made this one night and everyone was obsessed with it. Now I am begged to make chili all the time. I do have a question. Are the nutrition facts for 1 serving or the whole thing?

  45. 5 stars
    I made this chili this past weekend. It was the first time I ever made chili. I tweaked it a little and adjusted some of the spices to suit my husband’s tastebuds. He said it was the best chili he ever ate and he’s eaten a lot of chili throughout his 53 years. I guess I finally have a signature dish, haha. Tonight, I plan on making macaroni and cheese with a good portion of the chili mixed in. I also plan on making the chili again next weekend since we’re supposed to have a polar vortex. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  46. 2 stars
    I hate to leave a bad review but this taste like sloppy joe mix. I tried adding more spices, coco powder, baking soda to mellow out the tomato taste and nothing. I made this for my husband to take to work for the up coming week since he works out of town but sadly this can not go with him because it’s that bad. I don’t mind it as a frito pie with lots of onions, cheese and Fritos but him not so much. If you do not like sloppy joe flavor DO NOT add 1cup of ketchup, a complete fail.

  47. 5 stars
    I used deer meat in mine and added some red pepper flakes and bread crumbs to thicken. It was amazing !!! All these years I thought I didn’t like chili, turns out I do. Thank you so much for the recipe my husband was impressed!!

  48. 5 stars
    Made today awesome….great flavor. Family loved it. Topped each bowl with shredded cheddar cheese. Served with honey corn muffins. Awesome

    1. You can cook your own beans. 3/4 cup dried beans = 15 oz can. Cook them on low in a crock pot over night with 2 cups of water and 1/4 tsp. salt per 3/4 cup of beans.

      Whether using canned beans or dried beans, just always make sure you’re using organic beans. Otherwise, most bean farmers spray their bean crop with Roundup a few days before harvest to dry out the plant.

  49. My sister made this and absolutely raved over it. I went and got all the ingredients to make it, but got ground italian sausage. I got to thinking that it might have meant pork breakfast sausage. Will what I purchased be ok, or should I go get the other kind? Thanks!

  50. My favorite chili recipe and I have made many over last 60 years! I substitute a can of mild rotel tnstead of tomatos and I use v8 instead of tomato juice.

  51. Did you use Jimmy Dean sausage? I’m not sure sage would be good for this chili. If not, what type do you recommend? Thank you.

  52. 5 stars
    I’ve cooked chili beans for years!!! These are the best Chili beans by far!!! I’ve made them one time, best find ever…

  53. 5 stars
    This is the best chili i have made. Made it 3 or 4 times now.. I cook it in 2 instant pots. In one I cook dry beans to mix in later. I do the rest using the saute function on the instant pot other. I think from a health standpoint that there is probably too much sugar with the ketchup, but from a taste standpoint, i would recommend making the recipe as closely as possible to the original before you change it. Daughter is becoming a vegetarian so i need to find a good vegetarian chili recipe next. 🙂

  54. Did this need to specifically be “pork sausage” or is ground pork a fine substitute. Couldn’t find pork sausage in store.

    1. You can use ground pork, you just may want to add some seasonings to it like Italian seasoning, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and paprika.

  55. 5 stars
    This was a great recipe to take to a group gathering. Went so well over baked potatoes. Thanks for sharing the recipe. It is definitely a keeper.

  56. 5 stars
    I just made this recipe tonight for dinner. It came out so good😋 and also was easy recipe to follow too. My family so love it♥️. My side was collards maybe odd, but enough way. I plan to post it in Instagram 😁. Also this is a recipe I will continue to make. God bless♥️👍🏾. Keep doing what you do👏🏾

  57. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe!
    I could taste the slightest hint of red wine vinegar. Combined with the brown sugar, tomato juice, and the rest really worked well! Thank you…

  58. Hi there, I have a question for you. Why do you use tomatoe juice? Would using tomatoe sauce be ok as a substitute? Thank you

  59. 5 stars
    Oh. My. Word. Seriously, so good. 10 for 10 recommend. I will definitely be making this again, and again. 🙂

  60. 5 stars
    First time making chili and I was very nervous because I had some tough critics! This was not only super simple but everyone loved it and the left overs where brought to work for lunch every day. I did not have ketchup so I added one extra cup of tomato juice and I also didnt have the red wine vinegar so I omitted it. Definitely a favorite meal in our house

  61. 5 stars
    5 ⭐️
    The best Chile recipe I’ve ever made, hands down !!
    I made three huge crock pots of this paired with bacon honey cornbread. Every bite eaten by hungry house builders. I added crispy thick pieces of Smokey bacon, half a pound to each batch. This received rave reviews n requests for this recipe. I’ll not be searching for another chili recipe. This is a keeper.

  62. 5 stars
    The BEST CHILI I have ever made..flavorful, rich, just delicious…yummy..I finally found the chili I will cook forever..thx for sharing:)) Alice Cooper

  63. 5 stars
    Best chili recipe I have tried. My new go to. My husband was also a huge fan! I did add two whole jalapeños to up the heat a little.

  64. 5 stars
    This homemade chili I made for the first time is simply awesome and my son is a cook and he was very very impressed thank you I will be baking of fixing or cooking this again .