The Best Classic Chili

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The Best Classic Chili – This traditional chili recipe is just like mom used to make with ground beef, beans, and a simple homemade blend of chili seasonings.

The Best Classic Chili recipe in a red bowl topped with cheese and sour cream

This classic chili is perfect for a weeknight meal because it can be made in minutes.  The only thing to chop is an onion.

How do you make good homemade chili?

  • Heat olive in a large soup pot. 
  • Add chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add ground beef and break it apart with a wooden spoon.
  • Cook for 6-7 minutes.

onions and ground beef sautéing in a soup pot

  • Add chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and optional cayenne. 
  • Stir until well combined.

chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, sugar, salt, and pepper over browned beef and onions in a pot

  • Add diced tomatoes, kidney beans, beef broth, and tomato sauce. 
  • Stir well.

diced tomatoes over chili seasoned ground beef and onions in a soup pot

  • Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  • Let the chili rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

beans, beef broth, and tomato sauce added to chili seasoned beef, onions, and tomatoes in a pot

What do you top chili with?

In addition to the chili ingredients listed in this recipe for chili, you may also want to have these things as toppings.

  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • sliced green onions
  • saltine crackers or oyster crackers
  • diced avocado

What goes well with chili for dinner?

I’ve been playing around with this chili recipe for the past few months, making it many times.  My family didn’t mind the repetition at all because I really do believe that I ended up with the best chili ever!

Watch the step by step recipe video for this chili recipe below.

Find more of my recipes on TikTok

The best classic chili recipe in a red bowl topped with cheddar cheese and sour cream

The Best Classic Chili Recipe

4.96 from 2048 votes
The Best Classic Chili - This traditional chili recipe is just like mom used to make with ground beef, beans, and a simple homemade blend of chili seasonings.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


Servings 6 servings
Calories 334 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion -diced
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper* -optional
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce


  • Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and place it over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the ground beef to the pot. Break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the beef is browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and optional cayenne. Stir until well combined.
  • Add the broth, diced tomatoes (with their juice), drained beans, and tomato sauce. Stir well.
  • Bring the liquid to a low boil. Then, reduce the heat (low to medium-low) to gently simmer the chili, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Let the chili rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


I typically skip the cayenne pepper because I have a young kiddo.  Then, I put out some hot sauce for those adults that want to add some spiciness to their chili.


Serving: 1/6th of the recipe | Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 1249mg | Potassium: 1110mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1445IU | Vitamin C: 12.8mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 7.5mg
Course Dinner, Entree, Main Course
Keyword best chili, chili recipe, classic chili, homemade chili
Cuisine American
Author Amanda Finks

Check out all of my great ground beef recipes.

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  1. 5 stars
    This is the best chili ever. I like to add jalapeños and sriracha and use honey instead of sugar and it tastes amazing. I also used a mixture of ground beef and spicy Italian sausage once and it was a great addition. I always freeze this and take it camping for the perfect dinner. Thank you!!!

  2. 5 stars
    I tweaked this recipe a little bit to fit my liking more. This is *the* best base recipe ever though!

    I added half the amount of broth
    No sugar
    I added super hot cayenne pepper seasoning

    The rest of the recipe I followed exactly like shown and its my go-to. So good!

  3. 5 stars
    I’m not one to leave a comment but I needed to because I’ve been using this recipe for the better half of 2 years for my base chili and I’ve never been disappointed. I do some change up with the meet option, use rótele instead of tomatoes, less sugar or brown sugar, add jalapeños, green peppers, corn, serve over rice or as is! I just adore this recipe and wanted other to know how great it is!

  4. 4 stars
    I could tell that the base of this recipe was really good and delicious. I really enjoyed the flavor, but I found the amount of sugar to be overwhelming for my taste. I’m a savory > sweet kind of person, but even with savory being my preference, I’ve never had a chili that was quite as sweet as this one. I am making this recipe again this week, and I will likely use half a tablespoon of sugar – just enough to counteract the acidity of all the canned tomato.

  5. 3 stars
    I used this recipe because it looked easy enough. I did use a larger can of tomato sauce. Like previous comments, the sugar does not belong. It has the right heat, but the sugar ruined it. Will try again without sugar.

    1. 5 stars
      I made this chili 3 times now and never did put the sugar in as called for in the recipe. I minimize my family’s sugar use as a general rule. I also reduced the salt. It tasted great without sugar and with less salt.

  6. 5 stars
    Honestly this is the only chili recipe I use now. I do experiment sometimes but this is always my base.

  7. 5 stars
    Wanted to learn how to make chilli so I tried a bunch of recipes, combinations and permutations. This is my family’s favourite recipe. I add other beans as well. They cayenne is a bit too spicy for them but they like a little bit. Thank you for posting this!

    1. 4 stars
      I only did half the sugar and it is still way too sweet. Other than that it is a good recipe. I made some honey cornbread to go alongside it.

  8. Sorry but this recipe called for too much sugar unfortunately my family didn’t enjoy it. I may make it again but omit the sugar

    1. 5 stars
      This will be my go to chili recipe from now on. Just the way we like our chili! Made it exactly as directed (including all the sugar and cayenne) except I had no tomato sauce, so added two more TBLS tomato paste and an extra 1/2 cup of water. Next time I’ll make sure I have tomato sauce, but excellent with the minor substitution anyway.

    2. 5 stars
      Thanks for this recipe! I followed pretty much exactly, except used half the amount of sugar.
      This was very easy to make and delicious. Before I was using premade chili kits and they were bland, but from now on I’m making it like this!

  9. 5 stars
    A great base for a chili recipe – I recommend it for anyone thinking – I am in the mood for chili. You can eat this as written or endlessly riff on it. Thank you for the recipe. I made the basic recipe and dumped all the leftovers from the fridge in it and poured on killer Thai bird chilies. But it’s the base that brings it all together.

    I will definitely use this again.

  10. 5 stars
    Really good recipe that’s simple too! I used only one tbsp of sugar and almost could’ve gone with less. Will be making again

  11. 5 stars
    This recipe was seasoned perfectly, I added 1/2 cup extra of the broth, and it had the best texture.

    Key is to use 93%or lower fat beef to help reduce the oil, however, it still tasted delicious with higher fat beef.

  12. 5 stars
    This is THE BEST Chili ever! I love to cook and have experimented with many chili recipes. This one has simple ingredients with simple instructions to follow. I make it exactly as written in the recipe and we absolutely LOVE IT! It is so flavorful and satisfying to eat. The high temp today in Texas was 94 degrees and I am making this chili for dinner… that’s how good it is. 🙂 I have made this chili many times and it always comes together perfectly.

About Amanda Finks

I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Zionsville, IN. I’m an avid cook, travel nerd, & lover of good food! I’m trained in Food Science & recipe development. It’s my mission to bring you the BEST recipes your whole family will love!

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