Friends! I cannot believe that I am just sharing this recipe for the absolute BEST classic chili on my blog considering it was the very first recipe I ever posted on my first food blog back in November 2008!
THE BEST CLASSIC CHILI RECIPE
This is a simple, classic chili recipe that my dad has been making for as long as I can remember. It’s a basic mix of ground beef, onions, tomatoes, beans and spices but it’s absolutely full of depth and flavor thanks to the simmer time, seasonings and a special ingredient that’s added to the pot towards the end of cooking.
I have to apologize that the photos in this post are not filled with natural light but chili season happens when it’s cold and dark early, ya know?
All I gotta say is that food photography has come a LONG way. This was the chili photo from original blog post back in 2008. It was taken on my point and shoot camera and we didn’t have any fancy editing programs. She’s a beaut. 😛
CLASSIC CHILI INGREDIENTS
- Onion – I like a sweet onion in this recipe
- Ground beef (or ground turkey) – I typically make this recipe with ground beef but recently made it with turkey and really loved it!
- Garlic – I always think fresh is best but feel free to use frozen or pre-minced if that’s what you have
- Canned diced tomatoes – you can use regular diced tomatoes, fire roasted or something like a rotel that has green chiles in it
- Chili powder
- Kidney beans – I like dark red kidney beans in chili but I have also used a bean blend with kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans and that can be a nice swap
- Cocoa powder – this is the “secret ingredient” – don’t skip it!
- Salt and pepper
Here’s my classic chili made with a ground turkey instead of ground beef and a three bean blend instead of kidney beans.
HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC CHILI
While this chili does need time to simmer on the stove for maximum flavor development, it takes less than 15 minutes to get to that point.
- Sauté ground beef and onions. Add garlic towards the end of browning the meat and onions. Drain the meat and wipe out the pan.
- Add meat mixture back into pan along with tomatoes, beans, spices and water and let simmer covered for about an hour.
- Uncover and simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Add cocoa powder and cook for 10 more minutes.
- Serve with toppings and sides of choice.
THE BEST SIDES FOR CHILI
My absolute favorite sides for classic chili are cornbread and salad. Here’s a fun list of sides to consider.
- Side salad
- Bagged chopped salad kit
- Cornbread (cast iron cheddar cornbread recipe in this post from the archives)
- Baked potato
- Baked sweet potato
- Spaghetti noodles – I’ve never tried chili over noodles but my dad has and I know it’s a super popular regional thing in the midwest
- A vinegar-based cole slaw
- Fries (regular or sweet potato)
- Corn on the cob
- Garlic bread
- Biscuits or crescent rolls
- Cheese quesadillas
THE BEST TOPPINGS FOR CHILI
- Shredded cheese!!!
- Sour cream – I often use plain greek yogurt as a sub because I always have that on hand
- Saltine crackers – my family always crumbled saltines into our chili growing up
- Hot sauce
- Minced white onion
- Crispy crumbled bacon
- Oyster crackers
CLASSIC CHILI RECIPEPrint
A recipe for the best classic chili! A basic mix of ground beef, onions, tomatoes, beans and spices that’s chock full of depth and flavor. Hearty, comforting and so simple to prepare!
1 large onion
1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey)
3 cloves garlic
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz can), 3/4 full of water – might need to add more water as chili thickens
3–4 tbsp chili powder (to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
16 oz kidney beans (I like dark red) – you can also use a three bean blend with kidney, pinto and black beans
1–2 tbsp cocoa powder
- In a dutch oven or heavy pan, brown meat and onions. Add garlic during last minute or two. Drain well and wipe out pan.
- Add all ingredients except for cocoa powder and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
- Uncover and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add more water by 1/4 cup at a time if mixture becomes too thick.
- Add cocoa powder 10 minutes before serving and let simmer.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with your choice of chili toppings – see post for ideas!
Keywords: chili, soup, stew, comfort food, football food