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close up overhead shot of a bowl of Chili Recipe topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, and diced green onions
This old-fashioned chili recipe will make you think of meals at grandma’s when you were little. It’s hearty and filling. The flavors are perfect!
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Table of Contents
  4. Troubleshooting Tips for This Chili Recipe
  7. Why We Love This Chili Recipe
  8. Chili Recipe FAQS
  11. Even More Recipes You’ll Love

This simple homemade chili recipe combines beef and beans with a robust tomato sauce and spices and simmers away to create the perfect comfort food. It’s an easy, delicious, homemade meal that is ready in just half an hour.

a pot of Chili


Chili raw ingredients that are labeled
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You’ll need:

  • 2 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 2 small green bell peppers, about 2 cups diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, about 1½ cups diced
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 15 ounces of water
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, optional to cut acidity


BEANS: Traditionally you would use kidney beans in this chili. But you could also try another kind of beans such as black beans or pinto beans.

You can also increase the beans and reduce the amount of meat — or eliminate the meat altogether to make it a vegetarian option.

TOPPINGS: Add your favorite toppings to this perfect chili recipe. Grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onion, and fresh cilantro are all great choices.

SPICE: If you like spicy chili, you can adjust the spice level in this recipe with more cayenne pepper, or add hot sauce or red pepper flakes.

TOMATO SAUCE: If tomato sauce isn’t available, you can use crushed tomatoes or even tomato paste diluted with water. The latter will give a richer tomato flavor, so adjust according to your taste preference.

CHILI POWDER: No chili powder? Mix paprika with a pinch of cumin, oregano, and garlic powder for a similar flavor profile of homemade chili seasoning. Adjust the proportions to suit your taste.

ONIONS: Leeks or shallots can be used in place of onions. They offer a milder flavor, perfect for those who find onions too overpowering.

GARLIC: Instead of garlic powder, you could use minced jarred garlic, or even fresh garlic.

BROWN SUGAR: Try adding one tablespoon of brown sugar to this chili recipe for added depth of flavor.

CINNAMON: Adding ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon is another popular option in chili.

COCOA POWDER: One to two teaspoons can add a delicious depth of taste to your finished meal.

MEAT: You can substitute ground turkey, ground pork, ground sausage, or ground chicken for ground beef. Another option is to use a pound of ground beef and a pound of another ground meat.

VEGETABLES: You can add any other vegetables you’d like to this ultimate chili recipe. Red pepper and mushrooms are two great options.

You can also substitute the green pepper with red, yellow, or orange pepper if you’d like.

WATER: For a richer flavor, substitute beef, chicken, or vegetable broth for water. This enhances the overall taste without changing the texture.


Ground beef can be cooked ahead of time in large batches and frozen until you need it. You could use pre-cooked beef in this recipe if you’d like.


STEP ONE: In a large dutch oven or large pot, saute the diced bell pepper and onions in olive oil until they’re translucent and start to caramelize.

diced onion and peppers being cooked in a pot

STEP TWO: Add in your seasoning, minus the baking soda. Cook for one to two minutes while stirring continuously.


You don’t want anything to burn, so make sure you keep stirring!

STEP THREE: Add your ground meat and brown until it’s just done. It’s okay if it still has some pink in it before you add the rest of your ingredients because you’re going to continue cooking it.

ground beef being cooked in a pot

STEP FOUR: Pour in your tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and water.

tomatoes, tomato sauce, and paste added to the pot

STEP FIVE: Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the drained beans.

STEP SIX: Stir in the baking soda, if desired. This will cause the sauce to start to bubble up. Keep stirring over medium-high heat until the bubbles have gone away, then reduce the heat.


Adding baking soda helps cut the acidity in the tomatoes.

baking soda added to the chili in the pot

STEP SEVEN: Remove from heat and you’re ready to serve.

You can use salt and black pepper to taste if you’d like.

Troubleshooting Tips for This Chili Recipe

My chili is too thin.

Solution: If your chili is more soup-like than you’d prefer, you can thicken it. One way is to simmer it uncovered for longer, allowing excess liquid to evaporate.

Alternatively, you can mix in a small amount of cornstarch or flour dissolved in water. Add this mixture gradually until you reach the desired consistency.

My chili is too thick.

Solution: If the chili is too thick, simply stir in a bit more water or broth until it reaches your preferred texture. Do this gradually to avoid making it too thin.

My chili isn’t spicy enough for my taste.

Solution: If the chili lacks the heat you’re looking for, add more chili powder, cayenne pepper, or diced fresh jalapenos.

Be cautious and add in small increments, as it’s easier to increase the heat than to reduce it.

My chili is too spicy!

Solution: If you’ve gone overboard on the spice, you can balance it by adding more of the base ingredients like tomato sauce or broth.

Dairy products like sour cream or shredded cheese served on top can also help to tame the heat.

The flavors are too flat in my chili.

Solution: Enhance a bland chili by adjusting the salt or adding a bit more of the spices like cumin or garlic powder.

A splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lime can also brighten the flavors.

The chili has too much acidity.

Solution: If your chili has too much of a tomato-based acidity, try balancing it with a little brown sugar or honey. This can round out the flavors without making the chili sweet.

My chili is too crunchy.

Solution: If the meat is not as tender as you’d like, let the chili simmer longer. Low and slow cooking helps break down tough meat fibers.

Similar to the meat, if the vegetables aren’t cooked through, continue to simmer the chili until they reach the desired softness.


There’s nothing quite like a bowl of heartwarming, old-fashioned chili to satisfy comfort food cravings. But the beauty of this dish goes beyond its standalone deliciousness.

Chili is incredibly versatile, making it a fantastic centerpiece for a variety of meals. Let’s explore some delightful ways to serve this cozy classic, enhancing its flavors and transforming it into different meal types.

Whether you’re hosting a casual dinner or just spicing up your weekly meal routine, these serving suggestions are sure to inspire.

Classic Bowl: Start simple. Serve your chili in a deep bowl, topped with shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of chopped green onions.

This traditional way lets the rich flavors of the chili shine, complemented by the creaminess of the sour cream and the sharpness of the cheese.

Chili and Cornbread: For a heartier meal, pair your chili with a side of warm, buttery homemade cornbread. The sweetness and soft texture of the cornbread provide a lovely contrast to the savory, spiced chili. It’s a classic combination that never fails to please.

You could also serve with mouthwatering beer bread, cheese biscuits, zucchini bread, tortilla chips, or crackers.

Loaded Baked Potato: Scoop your chili over a baked potato for a filling, nutritious meal. The fluffy potato serves as a mild base, allowing the chili to be the star. Top it with cheese, sour cream, and chives for an extra flavor kick.

Chili Mac & Cheese: Combine the chili with cooked macaroni and a generous amount of cheese for an indulgent chili mac & cheese. It’s a kid-friendly dish that’s also a hit with adults, offering a perfect balance of cheesy goodness and hearty chili.

Baked Chili Dogs: Elevate your hot dogs by smothering them in this chili. Add some shredded cheese and diced onions for a classic chili dog experience. It’s a fun, casual way to enjoy the chili, especially at gatherings or for a quick dinner.

Taco Salad Base: Use the chili as a base for a taco salad. Layer it with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and tortilla chips. The chili adds a robust flavor to the fresh salad components, creating a wholesome, flavorful meal.

Chili and Rice: One of my favorite ways to enjoy this chili is over a bed of steamed brown rice. The rice soaks up the chili flavors beautifully, making for a comforting and satisfying meal. Serve with a side of avocado slices and a squeeze of lime for a fresh twist.

Each of these serving suggestions is designed to complement and enhance the flavors of the chili, offering a range of options to suit different tastes and dining occasions.

Whether you stick to the classic bowl or get creative with chili mac and cheese, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this timeless dish!

Can’t get enough comforting, hearty chili?

Try these delicious, mouth-watering recipes:


Chili, with its rich flavors and hearty ingredients, is a fantastic meal to have on hand, whether you’re prepping for a busy week or looking for comfort food at a moment’s notice.

It’s a dish that often tastes even better the next day, as the flavors have time to meld and deepen.

Here’s how you can store and reheat this old-fashioned chili to enjoy its best flavors and textures.

MAKE AHEAD: This old-fashioned chili recipe is perfect for making ahead. You can prepare it up to two days before you plan to serve it. The flavors will develop and intensify, making it even more delicious.

Just prepare the chili as instructed, allow it to cool slightly, then transfer it to a container, cover it, and refrigerate.

IN THE FRIDGE: To store the chili in the fridge, first let it cool to room temperature. Then, place it in an airtight container.

It will last in the refrigerator for up to three to four days. Remember, chili’s flavors often improve with a bit of time, so this method works wonderfully.

IN THE FREEZER: Freezing chili is a great way to extend its shelf life. Once cooled, transfer the chili to freezer-safe bags or containers.

Be sure to leave a little space at the top for expansion. Properly stored, it can last in the freezer for up to four to six months.

When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat.

REHEATING: Reheating chili is straightforward.

If it’s frozen, thaw it in the fridge overnight.

For stovetop reheating, transfer the chili to a pot and warm it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

In the microwave, place the chili in a microwave-safe dish, cover loosely, and heat on high, stirring every couple of minutes until it’s hot.

If the chili seems too thick upon reheating, just add a splash of water or broth to reach your desired consistency.

These storage and reheating tips will ensure your old-fashioned chili recipe tastes just as good, if not better, than when it was freshly made!

a bowl of chili topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, and green onion with a spoon

Why We Love This Chili Recipe

Rich and Hearty Flavor: The combination of spices, ground beef, and beans creates a deeply satisfying and hearty meal. It’s the kind of comfort food that’s perfect for a cozy night in.

Versatility: This chili is incredibly versatile. It can be served on its own, over rice, as a topping for nachos or baked potatoes, or even used to make chili dogs. Its ability to complement a variety of dishes makes it a valuable recipe in your cooking arsenal.

Customizable Heat Level: Whether you like your chili mild or spicy, this recipe can be easily adjusted to suit your taste. You can control the heat by adjusting the amount of chili powder or adding fresh chili peppers.

Great for Meal Prep: Chili is an excellent option for meal prep as it stores and reheats well. You can make a big batch and have it on hand for quick and easy meals throughout the week.

Nutritious: Packed with protein from the meat and fiber from the beans, this chili is not just delicious but also nutritious. It’s a balanced meal that can be further enhanced by adding various vegetables.

Crowd-Pleaser: Chili is a popular dish that is generally well-received by many. It’s a great dish to serve at gatherings, potlucks, or family dinners, as it’s easy to make in large quantities and is liked by adults and children alike.

Simple Ingredients: The recipe uses simple, easy-to-find ingredients, making it convenient to prepare without the need for a special trip to the grocery store.

Easy to Make: With straightforward, step-by-step instructions, this recipe is easy to follow, making it great for both novice cooks and seasoned chefs.

Comforting and Satisfying: There’s something inherently comforting about a bowl of chili. It’s a satisfying dish that warms you up from the inside, perfect for chilly evenings.

Leftovers Taste Even Better: Like many stewed dishes, this chili tastes even better the next day, as the flavors have more time to meld and develop.

This is the best chili recipe around. It’s the perfect comfort food and having a pot of chili simmering away on the stove is such a cozy way to warm up on a cold day. This classic beef chili easily become your favorite chili recipe.

Chili Recipe FAQS

Can I make this chili in the slow cooker?

This classic chili recipe could be made in the slow cooker or check out our slow cooker chili recipe.

Can I freeze chili?

This easy chili recipe freezes exceptionally well. Store in an airtight container for up to three months.

Can I turn this into a vegetarian recipe?

If you’d like to make this chili into a vegetarian dish, omit the ground beef and increase the beans in the recipe.

What is the secret ingredient to good chili?

The secret ingredient to take your chili to the next level is adding one teaspoon of cinnamon along with all the other spices. It brings an added warmth without adding additional spice and is a great way to balance the other spices in your recipe.

How do you make chili more flavorful?

You can make your chili even more flavorful by adding additional spices to the mix. While we love the classics of cumin, cayenne, and chili powder, you can get creative by adding spices such as turmeric, garam masala, or sumac for even more flavor.


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close up overhead shot of a bowl of Chili Recipe topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, and diced green onions

Chili Recipe

5 from 242 votes
This old-fashioned chili recipe will make you think of meals at grandma’s when you were little. It’s hearty and filling. The flavors are perfect!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8


  • 2 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 2 small green peppers about 2 cups diced
  • 1 small yellow onion about 1 ½ cups diced
  • 2 cans tomatoes diced (15-ounce cans)
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 15 ounces water
  • 2 cans kidney beans drained and rinsed (15-ounce cans)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda optional


  • In a large dutch oven, saute diced peppers and onions until translucent and they start to caramelize.
  • Add seasonings (minus the baking soda) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Make sure they don’t burn.
  • Add ground meat and brown until just done. It’s okay if it still has some pink in it before you add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, water, and tomato paste.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium low heat and cook for about 15 minutes. Then add the drained beans.
  • Stir in the baking soda. The sauce will start to bubble up. Stir over medium heat until the bubbles have gone away.
  • Remove from heat and serve.



TIP: You don’t want anything to burn, so make sure you keep stirring!
TIP: Ground beef can be made ahead of time in large batches and frozen. You can use pre-cooked ground beef in this recipe.
TIP: Adding baking soda helps cut the acidity in the tomatoes.


Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 1181mg | Potassium: 939mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2127IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 6mg
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This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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    Recipe Rating


  1. Jeri says

    5 stars
    I thought this was a great recipe! I tried one of the add ins, brown sugar. It was great! Next time I might try the cinnamon or cocoa powder.

  2. Cathy says

    5 stars
    I made this chili last night. It was delicious. The only thing I changed, I used black beans instead of kidney beans.

  3. Cathy says

    5 stars
    I made this chili last night. It was very good. The only thing I changed I used black beans instead of kidney beans.

  4. Judy says

    5 stars
    I never leave a review but I’ve made this recipe several times now and everyone loves it! The only thing that I do different is instead of regular paparika I use Smoked paparika! It is Sooo good like this!! Adds a Smokey flavor! Anyways…. This is the Best chili recipe Ever!

  5. Sandy Balducci says

    5 stars
    I made this last week. Family loved it! I usually just use the packets to make chili but my son has recently been put on a gluten free diet so I’m slowly learning how to spice my own recipes up. I made it exactly as recipe said but added a can of rotel tomatoes AND added a small can of diced green chilies. YUMMMM… 🤤

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