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This easy 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, bacon, and beans! Let it simmer all day on the stovetop, then get ready to enjoy a bowl with all of your favorite toppings and fixings.
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Originally published on May 16, 2012.
The World’s Best Ever 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 world’s best chili,” and I really believe it is.
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. Trust me, this is THE BEST chili recipe ever!
Have you tried it yet? If not, what are you waiting for?
What Makes this Beef Chili So Good?
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.
Control the spiciness: If you don’t want it too spicy, use less chili powder. But if you love the heat, you can add more, try some cayenne pepper, or toss in chopped jalapenos when you cook the onions and peppers with the meat.
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 salty, smoky goodness.
Includes beans, but they are optional: The bigger debate with chili is beans or no beans. This is 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.
What You’ll Need
I wouldn’t say there is one secret ingredient. Each one truly adds something to this chili, so I don’t think you should leave anything out. It seems like a long list, but the ingredients fall into four basic categories that are essential to developing the flavors.
- Meat – This recipe uses both ground beef and stew beef cubes. Plus there is bacon for that salty, smoky goodness.
- Vegetables and aromatics – Onion, 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 for a great low carb option, try a no bean chili (this one cooks on the stove or in the Instant Pot).
How to Make the Best Chili
While the cooking time seems long, it’s only because you want to let it simmer for a while so the flavors can fully develop. The time you actually spend at the stove really isn’t that long. All the details and quantities are in the recipe card, but here’s the overview and some tips.
Cook the meat and vegetables: Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add all of the meats, as well as the pepper and onion. Let it cook until the meat is browned and the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally and breaking up the ground beef as it cooks. Drain any collected grease and liquid. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Add the seasonings: Sprinkle the chili powder, dried mustard, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper over the top and give everything another stir.
Add the remaining ingredients: Stir in the canned tomatoes (do not drain them), tomato paste, kidney beans (after they have been drained and rinsed), and about two cups of water. Bring it to a simmer.
Let it simmer on the stove: Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water, as needed, to achieve your desired consistency
Or use a crockpot: 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. You can also make it ahead and just 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!
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 or sliced green onions or scallions
- Sliced avocado or avocado crema
- 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?
Wondering what to serve with your bowl of beef chili? These easy ideas will make a super satisfying meal!
- Have some corn bread like this Gluten Free Cornbread or even some corn pudding casserole or Hushpuppies.
- Instead of a bowl, you can serve it as stuffed acorn squash or try gluten free bread bowls.
- Need some veggies? Try a slaw, like Maple Dijon Apple Cole Slaw.
- Toss a simple salad and set out Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing or Creamy Greek Yogurt Maple Dijon Salad Dressing.
Can You Make this Recipe 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.
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 Store and Reheat Leftovers
Let your chili cool and then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge. It will keep for up to 4 days.
To reheat, simply spoon the amount of chili you want to eat into a microwave-safe bowl, cover the bowl with another plate, then heat in the microwave for a few minutes until warmed. I recommend pausing the microwave halfway through to give the chili a stir and make sure food in the middle of the bowl gets warm too.
You can also reheat this chili on the stovetop. This is especially helpful if you are warming up chili for more than one person. To do this, ladle the desired amount into a pot and heat over medium-low until warmed through.
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.
More Chili Variations
Don’t have time or need quite this much?
- Quick and Easy Chipotle Turkey Chili is ready super fast.
- Slow Cooker Aloha Chili gives the perfect blend of sweet heat.
- Cauliflower and Quinoa Vegan White Chili is a heart veggie-packed vegetarian chili.
- Pineapple Black Bean Crockpot Turkey Chili gives you a healthy option with ground turkey.
Shop the Recipe
DUTCH OVEN: When letting something simmer for a long time, you really want a heavy-bottomed pot, such as an enameled cast iron stock pot or Dutch oven.
SLOW COOKER: I like to use my crockpot to keep chili warm for a crowd or if I don’t want to tend to it on the stove. But you’ll need a big one, at least 6 quarts.
WOODEN SPOON: I like to use a wooden spoon to break up the meats and stir everything together.
CHILI BOWLS: Nice, big, heavy bowls are best so you have plenty of room to load on toppings. The ones I have in the photos aren’t available anymore, but you can find something similar.
The World’s Best Chili Recipe
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 pound stew beef, cut into about one inch chunks
- 1/4 pound 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 (use more or less, as needed)
- shredded cheese
- sour cream
- diced onion
- tortilla chips
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the ground beef, stew meat, bacon, 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.