A chili for people who like their chili thick and hearty!
Usually I feel like I cycle through chilis pretty quickly and have a new favorite every winter, but this one has been my mainstay for the past few years, so it's high time I share it here!
I describe this as a really good, basic chili. No surprise ingredients! Sometimes, you just want the classic, you know?
It's got it all: the flavor we know and love, the PERFECT texture, all with ingredients that are easy to find and a recipe that can be scaled up for big batches.
One food topic we feel especially passionate about at my house is the texture of chili. We don't want it too soupy, we want it HEARTY. And this chili delivers. It's been described as having the perfect ratio of beans : meat.
Two things that make this chili:
Using the food processor to chop the onions and peppers. The bell pepper, onion, and jalapeño all go into the food processor to get chopped. You want it to be somewhere between a dice and a puree.
Not only does this save a TON of time, but it also is part of what gives this chili the most perfect soupiness level. The veggies cook down to be thick and rich, and you have a little bit of everything in every bite. YUM.
Not adding extra liquid. The key to getting a thick chili is to not add extra liquid apart from the canned tomatoes and their juices! I've been making chilis for years calling for tomato sauce, broth, and other liquids and then wondering "why is this so soupy?" while eating it. Once, I tried adding no additional liquids and it was a game changer.
The perfect, thick and hearty texture.
Fair warning that when you add everything together in the pot you will probably think it needs some liquid. But don't add any! Once it has simmered for about an hour and the veggies and beef have released their liquid, it will be perfect!
Customize this by swapping out different bell pepper colors, using different chili peppers, or using fire roasted tomatoes. It is a really flexible recipe!
Want to make this ahead?
It's a perfect make-ahead meal in so many ways!
- Make it and freeze it. You can keep this in the freezer for up to 3 months in an airtight container. We had approximately 12 containers of this in our freezer before our youngest was born!
- Make it in the slow cooker. Start it on the stove and then transfer to the slow cooker just before adding the canned ingredients. Perfect to start in the morning and have ready for lunch/dinner on a busy day. I love doing this for Sunday post-church lunch in the winter!
- Make it and refrigerate. Like most soups, chili gets better the next day. This is a great option for meal prep! It'll keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Serve this with
- Toppings! Toppings are a must for chili. Sour cream, shredded cheddar, minced onion, sliced green onion, diced jalapeño, saltines... the sky is the limit!
- Noodles. This chili is thick enough to be PERFECT for a Cincinnati chili!
- Baked potatoes.
- Biscuits or rolls.
My Favorite Beef Chili! (Thick + Hearty)
- 1 pound ground beef (see note)
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 bell pepper (whatever color you like!)
- 1 jalapeño, seeds and stems removed if you want it less spicy
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomato
- 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained (see note)
- Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat, breaking it apart as it cooks. Meanwhile, cut the onion and peppers into large chunks and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until very finely minced. It will be liquidy and somewhere between a dice and a puree. Once no pink remains on the beef, add the pepper and onion mixture and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. If you come across any larger hunks of pepper or onion, just break them up with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt and cook 1 minute more. Add the canned tomatoes along with their juices, and the drained beans. Bring to a soft boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Serve topped with your favorite chili toppings!