The World’s Best Chili Recipe (aka Bill’s Chili)

4.74 from 42 votes
A red circle with the letters FFA red circle with the letters GF

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This easy chili recipe is so good it’s earned the title of the World’s Best Chili. A hearty homemade chili fully loaded with ground beef, stew meat and bacon! Let it simmer all day on the stove then get ready to enjoy a bowl of this homemade chili.

A bowl filled with homemade beef chili.

Originally published on May 16, 2012. Updated on January 19, 2016.

The World’s Best Chili Recipe

Years ago I was part of a Facebook group where every day we answered one question – “What’s for dinner?” The answers ranged from fabulous steak dinners to super healthy salads to chicken nuggets to pizza night. Basically, when life gets crazy, you gotta do what you gotta do and just get the family fed.

However, everyone in the group got excited when someone said they were making “Bill’s Chili,” a now-famous recipe that was passed around the group. I have no idea who Bill is, other than that he is someone that one of the group members knew. But I can tell you one thing – I will be making his amazing chili for the rest of my life. It is so good! In our house we call it “the worlds best chili,” and I really believe it is.

Many people agree! This hearty chili recipe has been pinned over 140,000 times. The video has been viewed on Facebook nearly 4 million times. It is even award-winning at several chili cook-offs.

Have you tried it yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

A white bowl of beef chili with beans topped with cheese, chips, and sour cream

What Makes this the Best Beef Chili?

Easy with incredible flavor: This recipe is so much more than just a basic chili. It is simple, yet hearty. By letting the ingredients cook together as long as possible, all of the flavors develop and blend together. Each ingredient adds something to the overall flavor and texture that really makes it the World’s Best.

Uses ground beef, stew meat and bacon: There is always the debate of whether you use just ground beef, just stew beef cubes, or a combination of both. This recipe uses both to get the depth of flavor and the different textures. Plus there is bacon for that salty, smoky goodness.

Includes beans, but they are optional: The bigger debate with chili is beans or no beans. This is a chili with beans, but leave them out or swap kidney beans for black beans, if you like. It’ll still be delicious. The beans are definitely an inexpensive option to be able to feed more people with this one recipe.

Makes enough chili for days: This recipe makes a ton. Whether you are having leftovers the next day or pulling the extra chili out of the freezer, it reheats well, and in fact might taste even better the second time around.

 

How to Make the Best Chili

Here is a brief overview so you can see just how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full quantities and details.
But don’t skip my PRO TIPS below!

Ingredients

  • Meat – This recipe uses both ground beef and stew beef cubes. Plus there is bacon for that salty, smoky goodness.
  • Vegetables and aromaticsOnion, red bell pepper, and garlic are sauteed with the meat to add layers of flavor. Canned chopped green chiles give it a bit of heat, and the saucy stew base is a mixture of canned whole tomatoes and tomato paste.
  • Herbs and spices – The (no longer) secret blend of spices includes chili powder, dried mustard, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.
  • Beans (or no beans?) – This chilli has kidney beans. You can always leave them out or swap them for black beans. However, adding beans is a budget-friendly option to be able to feed more people with this one recipe. But a no bean chili is a great low carb option.
A heavy bottomed pot with beef chili being cooked step-by-step

Directions overview – scroll to the recipe card for the full set of instructions

  1. Saute the two kinds of beef and bacon with chopped onion, pepper, and garlic in a large Dutch oven.
  2. Add the seasonings, including chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and a few more items.
  3. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato paste, water, and canned green chiles.
  4. Add kidney beans.
  5. Stir everything together.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer as long as possible, stirring occasionally.

Let it simmer all day in one big heavy-bottomed pot on the stove for dinner. Or make it ahead and keep it warm in a crockpot for a party or as one of your favorite potluck dishes. It tastes even better reheated the next day!

BRIANNE’S PRO TIP: if you don’t want to worry about tending to it on the stove, transfer to a crockpot for the simmering time. But use about half the water to start, and add more if needed.

Chili Toppings

Wondering what toppings to add to your homemade chili? Here are few ideas to get you started:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Chopped raw onion
  • Sliced avocado
  • Crushed tortilla chips. Buy a bag or make your own Baked Tortilla Chips with flour or corn tortillas.

Make it a Meal: What Goes with Beef Chili?

A white bowl filled with homemade beef chili.

Can You Make Chili Ahead?

This homemade chili recipe makes a lot. So you can definitely make it ahead to feed a crowd at a party, or heat up your leftovers the next day. In fact, it tastes better the second time around.

If cooking on the stove, just keep it on low and let it simmer.

Or transfer it all to a crockpot (make sure you get a large one, like this 6-quart slow cooker) after it is cooked just to keep it warm or to reheat it. This is especially helpful for a party. If you allow it to simmer in the slow cooker, I’d recommend starting with about half the water and add more if needed.

How to Freeze Chili

Yes, you can freeze it all, or have it for dinner one night and freeze the rest. Transfer the cooled chili to an airtight container and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Or for even more compact storage, fill plastic freezer storage bags and lay them flat. And it always reheats well. If it has thickened up, just add a little more water.

Is Chili Gluten Free?

This homemade chili recipe is gluten free, but not all are. A few things to look out for when looking for in a recipe is whether it contains flour to thicken it, if beer is added, or if the recipe uses a powdered seasoning mix that might not be gluten free. However, there are plenty of options out there to find your favorite gluten free recipe.

A white bowl filled with beef chili

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Don’t have time or need quite this much?

More Chili Recipes to Try:

I hope you’ll leave a comment and give it a FIVE STAR rating or share a photo on Pinterest!

4.7 from 42 votes

The World’s Best Chili Recipe

This truly is the World’s Best Chili, and it’s perfect for feeding a crowd.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
Total: 2 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lb stew beef, cut into about one inch chunks
  • 1/4 lb bacon, diced in small pieces
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (or 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic from a jar)
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4.5 oz chopped green chilies
  • 28 oz whole canned tomatoes (I used Tuttorosso Peeled Plum Tomatoes)
  • 12 oz Tomato Paste (I used two 6 oz cans Tuttorosso Tomato Paste)
  • 48 oz canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups water (add more if needed)

Optional Toppings:

  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • diced onion
  • tortilla chips

Instructions

  • Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the meats, pepper, and onion, and cook until the meat is browned and the vegetables are tender. Drain any collected grease and liquid, if desired.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  • Stir in the chili powder, dried mustard, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the chilies, tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, and about two cups of water, and simmer on low for at least 2 hours, or put into a crockpot on low for at least 4 hours. Add additional water, as needed to achieve desired consistency.
  • Serve with desired optional toppings.

Notes

This chili freezes well, or can be made the day before and reheated.
Nutrition Facts
The World's Best Chili Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 420 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 4g20%
Cholesterol 82mg27%
Sodium 895mg37%
Potassium 1384mg40%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 12g48%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 40g80%
Vitamin A 1280IU26%
Vitamin C 23.9mg29%
Calcium 98mg10%
Iron 8.8mg49%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
  • Lasagna is always a family favorite, and this one is the best.
  • Shepards Pie or Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie, whatever you call it, it’s delicious.
  • Beefaroni also has a million different names, but it’s a family favorite ready in a flash.
  • Beef Egg Roll Bowl is a one-pan dinner ready in less than 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

156 Comments
  1. Roger

    5 stars
    best ever, can regulate thickness you prefer by how much water added. Great chili . will feed several, or freeze for later. I use a little more garlic than called for!!!

  2. Ashley

    Making this as we speak 🙂 just curious, i added the tomatoes whole. Will they become smaller as it cooks? I’ve never made Chile with tomatoes this big so just curious. Followed the directions to a T 🙂 can’t wait to try!!!

  3. Fae

    5 stars
    Made this last night. Only changes was I didn’t use water I used an IPA beer and some beef broth and used 3 smaller cans of beans (Bushs spicy, pinto and black chili beans).

    Easy and fantastic!

  4. Kelly

    5 stars
    After reading all of the fabulous reviews, my husband and I made this for a Halloween party/Chili cook off. We added a tiny bit of Cholula hot sauce for some extra heat. We won 1st place out of 14! Thanks for sharing this award winning recipe!

  5. Allen Abrams

    I going to try this tonight. I think I’m going to sub out the stew beef for short ribs. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks for the recipe, it looks delicious!

  6. Debbie

    I’m so excited to try this recipe. Could you use diced canned tomatoes instead of whole? Do the whole tomatoes break apart or stay whole?

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the chili, Katie. Thank you for your comment and for rating the recipe!

  7. Kaytee

    5 stars
    Wonderful chili! This will be my go to! My husband loved this chili I dont think he ever stopped raving about it. Also I went into labor the night I made it…

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Kaytee, I am thrilled to hear that the chili recipe was loved, but your baby news is the best news of all! Congratulations!

  8. Gail

    5 stars
    My go to chili since the 1990s was a recipe from Bon Apetite magazine. One day last year I ran across this recipe. I’ve not made the Bon Apetite recipe since. I love this chili recipe. In fact it’s simmering on my stove right now. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I am so glad you’re enjoying the recipe and I’m humbled that it beats out a great source like Bon Appetit. Thank you so much for your comment and rating!

    2. Kaytee

      5 stars
      Just made this chili again. This time no chance of going into labor. House smells delicious. I no longer enjoy going to bonfires that have other people’s chili. This is the best!

  9. Ken Mosher

    5 stars
    I just wanted to thank you for this recipe; I entered a cook-off hosted by a friend tonight, using this recipe as a base (I doubled the bacon, added more/hotter peppers, more garlic, peanut butter, and used beer instead of water) … it was a HUGE success: I got nothing but compliments from everyone who tried it, and I ended up winning “#1 Judge’s Choice” out of the 13 entries!

  10. Michael Meyer

    5 stars
    What a great recipe! I just made it for a neighborhood chili competition, and I won! I followed the recipe almost exactly, except I cut the stew beef (chuck) into slightly smaller pieces than 1” I used only 1 tsp of crushed red pepper, and I added 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 T brown sugar, and 2 T molasses. I was careful to remove all of the liquid and grease after browning the meat and vegetables, which separated my chili from the others in the competition, several of which were greasy and soupy. I simmered the chili for 2-1/2 hours, which softened the beef nicely. 2 cups of water were enough. I will make this recipe again and again.

  11. Lynn Hults

    3 stars
    This chili was pretty good.I would not say this is the best chili in the world.But it was ok.I entered it in a small competition and the judges did not give it 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place.Also it did not get the favorite from the group of people that tried it.I guess i was disappointed about that.

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m sorry to hear that the chili recipe didn’t win you any prizes, Lynn. I think chili is the type of dish that is great because it’s so versatile to adapt the flavors of, but the downside is that people have very specific tastes for the type they prefer.

    2. Bailey

      5 stars
      It’s funny since yours was the only review that didn’t rave about it. Kind of a strange review. I thought it was delicious! Maybe it didn’t come out just right. . .

  12. Vicky

    5 stars
    When I make chili, I call it “clean out the fridge” chili! Never is the same twice and I never measure! It’s 100 degrees down here today and yup, I sat in there he air conditioning and made chili !!?? think I’m soon to be committed! All your ingredients are terrific. I’d use all of the ingredients that you mentioned but I always put Worcestershire sauce in my chili. Just seems to give it a great depth of flavor and body! Thanks for sharing ?

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Haha! Vicky, you sound like a truly passionate chili fan. 😀 Thanks for your great comment and for rating my recipe.

  13. Beth

    Might be a silly question but if I do this in the crockpot should I just add all ingredients at once? How long would you suggest cooking?

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Not a silly question at all, Beth! Before you add the ingredients to the crock pot, I suggest that you first brown the ground beef and at least sear the pieces of beef in some oil on the stove top, otherwise I’m afraid that the chili will be very greasy. After that, you can place all of the ingredients (except for the toppings) into a slow cooker and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours or high heat for 2-3 hours. Just long enough for the peppers and onions to soften up a bit and for the flavors of the chili to combine together.

  14. Lawrence M Chonoles

    I was looking for the video and could not find it. Also wanted to know if the 2 hr simmer was covered or uncovered?

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      The chili recipe video is embedded right into the middle of the blog post. The chili should simmer with the pot covered, but uncover and stir occasionally.

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Hi Tracey!
      I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the chili recipe. If your beef was a bit tough, next time, you can buy a leaner cut (something with less marbling) or tenderize your meat before you make the recipe.

  15. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Are you getting you chili from New Mexico, though? Real New Mexican chile makes all the difference in the world. I get mine from the CHIMAYO CHILE BROS.; here is a link to their site: http://www.chimayochilebros.com
    I always buy American chile, the stuff they import from Mexico, China and India, are just not as good ;-(

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      The good news is that you can always leave out the kidney beans if you don’t care for them! 🙂

  16. Karen

    5 stars
    Bill’s Chili recipe is the best chili I have ever eaten! And the best news is I froze over half of it and thawed it out 3 months later for dinner one night. I cooked up a pound of thin spaghetti and topped it with the chili and plenty of grated Sardo cheese-SO WONDERFUL❤️????????

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Oh my goodness, Karen, I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the chili recipe! Thank you so much for the great feedback.

  17. S. McFarland

    5 stars
    I fixed this last night and was loved by all! It was a little costly, but worth it! Thank you for sharing Bill’s recipe!!

  18. Shelley

    Hi came across your chili recipes and looks great I was wondering if I could make it in a crock pot as my stove in my apartment does not go low enough for me to cook on the stove Thanks in advance for your time

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the chili recipe, Bettye! I’m not much into venison either, but I hear that it tastes wonderful. 😉

  19. Mike

    This was sounding a lot like one I make, with few exceptions. I use sirloin steak instead of stew beef. I also cook the full pound of bacon, not just a few strips. Using water is such a missed opportunity. I generally use coffee and beer to add liquid, but if I need more liquid I’ll add beef or chicken stock (or broth). If I need less liquid, I’ll throw in a cup of rice. Chili is easy to make taste good as long as you know your seasonings. Cumin is my jam. Lots of cumin. Also, season your meat when you cook it beforehand. I use Famous Dave’s steak and burger seasoning.

  20. Will be making this tomorrow for a Harvest Festival which includes a chili cook-off 🙂 Can’t wait to try it and yes, I love the addition of bacon.

    Thanks for the recipe!

      1. I just had to write and say THANK YOU for such an amazing chili! I am happy to report that your chili recipe was the first-place winner of the cook-off. This will definitely be my “go-to” recipe for chili as the flavor is ever so delicious and the consistency is perfect. The only thing I “changed” was I used only two cans of beans rather than three 🙂

        Thanks a million!

  21. Jenna

    I know everyone is mentioning this recipe makes a lot of chili… does this fit into a normal sized slow cooker?! 🙂 I’m suuuuper excited to make this!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Judy, I thought perhaps there was a typo in the recipe, but I looked at the recipe and it says 2lb of meat, which is 2 pounds.

  22. I’ve been meaning to get over here to look at Bill’s Chili since you mentioned it. I love the addition of bacon to pretty much everything! Delicious chili!

  23. Ruth Cobb

    I know that there is nitrate and nitrite free sandwich meats but how about badon. Nitrates and nitrites can cause migraines in some people. This really looks good. I might have to leave out the bacon though. darn

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Hi Ruth! Actually, there are several brands of nitrate free bacon. If you’re looking on the packages, it’s called “uncured bacon”. I hope you are able to find some!

  24. Paula

    I love chili! Just a quick question…you mentioned that Bill put honey in his chili! I’m definitely not a purist when it comes to chili, and honey sounds intriguing…how much did he put in? Many many thanks!

  25. Nina

    This was an awesome recipe. I did doctor it a little by using a dry red wine for part of the water. Im not a green chili fan, so used a can of rotelle instead. It was amazing. Thanks for sharing Bill!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed Bill’s chili recipe, Nina! Using Rotel tomatoes is a great idea!

  26. Melinda

    Just exactly my recipe! And my Mom’s! I dont use three cans of beans…whew! Waaay too many beans for our chili but the rest is spot on! Sour cream, cheese, and dipperz!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m so happy to hear that you like the chili recipe, Melinda! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Ann, for best results, I recommend cooking the chili on low heat in the slow cooker for 4 hours. I hope you enjoy it!

  27. Jack Madden

    I have tried so many recipes , over the years, looking for this flavor. The very best chili i have ever tasted . Really Five Star. Thank You!

  28. ROBERT

    Draining kidney beans. Brianna’s answer ~ If you use plain kidney beans you should drain them first.
    Robert’s question ~ I am assuming the kidney beans to be drained are caned in water?

    Brianne’s answer ~ Some people use beans in chili sauce which don’t get drained first.
    Robert’s question ~ If the beans in chili sauce are not drained first, are they ever drained even partially?

    Brianne ~ Please excuse my questions I didn’t want to goof up your wonderful recipe which deserves to be followed as written.
    Thank you so much.

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Hi Robert –
      I’m sorry for the confusion regarding the beans. You are correct. If someone is using traditional canned plain kidney beans (or any other type, other than those in a flavored sauce), they should be drained. If you’re using flavored beans, they can be added without draining. 🙂

  29. Dani

    This looks great but I’m also intrigued that the recipe originally called for honey!! How much honey was it? I do like a little sweet with my savoury and I may try it with the honey added.

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Hi Patti! If you use plain kidney beans then yes, you should drain them first. Some people like to use beans in chili sauce, which don’t get drained first. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  30. Laurie

    Super weird question; do you think this recipe will work if I leave out the beans? Maybe add some more beef? I really can’t handle the texture of beans but love chili!

  31. Donna

    I just have to say that for more than 30 years I have been trying to make chili that my husband would rate better than “it was okay”. Well, I don’t know who Bill is but THANK YOU BILL! I made this for Superbowl Sunday and it is the first time he made sure the leftovers came home with us.
    I followed the recipe as written, following the advice of reducing the chili powder, and the only addition I made was about a tablespoon of brown sugar. It says the recipe freezes well, but I won’t know if that’s true until next time since it is all gone!

      1. Lauren

        5 stars
        Just made this. I put it in the crockpot on low and I’m letting it cook all night. I added 8 shakes of worsteshier and 1 tbsp of lime juice and also added 8 cloves of garlic instead of 2. This seriously is the BEST chili recipe I’ve EVER made. Thanks Bill. ❤

        1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

          I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the chili recipe, Lauren! Thank you for your comment and for rating the recipe.

  32. Big YUM happening here and love your gorgeous photography! Stopping over from the Super Bowl and Chili party. Hope you’ll stop by to link up over at my Tailgating Time Super Bowl party too 🙂

  33. 5 stars
    Thanks for bringing this chili by the Super Bowl/Chili Party at Tumbleweed Contessa. I can tell you have done a lot of testing on this reciipe. That’s what makes chili good. I’ll have mine out there on Sunday for the big game. Drop by to get a taste of it.

    One thing about chili I have been told. You don’t know beans about chili if you put beans IN your chili.
    That’s from a chili cookoff friend of mine!

    Have a SUPER week.

    Linda

  34. 5 stars
    Brianne, this is the best looking Chili ever! I can’t wait to try it. I just read all the ingredients and it sounds amazing! We are chili lovers so I’m sure it will be a hit! Sharing on FB and Pinning 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!
    Michelle

  35. Hi there. Just to let you know that this lovely post has been featured today in my Need Some Inspiration? series. You originally linked in to Food on Friday: Beef. Have a great week.

    Ps It would be super if you followed Carole’s Chatter. I will follow back.

  36. OK, I’m going to have to turn the air down, usually Chili is a winter meal but I can’t wait 6 months to give this a try. Ground beef, stew beef and Bacon! Oh yeah, this is getting made soon. Thanks for sharing, pinned!

  37. Okay, I was really good and brought myself a salad for lunch, but now I don’t want it. I want chili. With bacon. I love chili- it’s one of the two ways I will actually eat red meat, the other being my mother’s beef stew.

    Do you deliver? I’m a good tipper.

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