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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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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Easy Homemade Chili
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion , diced
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 pound pork sausage
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes , petite, undrained
- 4 cups tomato juice*
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 15 ounce cans pinto beans , undrained
- 1 16 ounce can kidney beans , undrained
- 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you want it spicier)
- shredded cheddar cheese , optional
- sour cream , optional
- 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.
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I originally shared this recipe August 2019. Updated October 2021 and September 2023.