The Best Classic Chili

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The Best Classic Chili is a traditional chili recipe 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.

I’ve been playing around with this 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!

How To Make Homemade Chili

Note: This is a summary. The full printable recipe and step by step video are located at the bottom of this post.

  • 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 it 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, 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

How To Store

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Or, store in the freezer for up to three months. Transfer the container to the refrigerator to thaw the day before you want to reheat it.

Pro Tip – Is It Too Spicy?

The brand of chili powder you use will have a huge difference in how spicy your chili will be. Different brands of chili powder have VERY different levels of spiciness.

I always use McCormick Chili Powder (No affiliation) because it is flavorful without being spicy.

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

The Best Classic Chili Recipe

4.96 from 3656 votes
The Best Classic Chili is a traditional chili recipe 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.


*The brand of chili powder you use will have a huge difference in how spicy your chili will be. Different brands of chili powder have VERY different levels of spiciness.
I always use McCormick Chili Powder (No affiliation) because it is flavorful without being spicy.
**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. This really is the best chili ever. I didn’t add the broth, just everything else and it was perfect. Tastes like Wendy’s Chilli yum! Thanks for the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe many, many times in small batches and huge batches… always a winner! I’ve got a triple batch going right now. I recommend this recipe for it’s high flavor level with no one ingredient dominating the others. It’s got enough flavor to please adult palates but not too spicy for kids. Another plus? The short cooking time. I used to simmer chili in crock pots for many hours… even with triple batch, I will not simmer the chili (stove top, uncovered) for more than an hour. I’ve learned that all those hours of simmering sort of “kill” lively flavors.

  3. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe and I’m very pleased. Tweaked it a bit but I’m definitely keeping this recipe. I would show you pictures but everyone ate it quickly

  4. 5 stars
    I’m not really a chilli fan but this chilli man knock your momma socks off good we had it plain then I made french fries 😂😂😂 omg chilly cheese fries AMAZING !! 😍😍😍😍😍 Then baked potatoes yes y’all we ate it three days in a row I I made × 3 of the recipe I have a family of 4 omg 😱 good 👍

  5. 5 stars
    This is the best chili recipe I’ve ever made! It was a big hit with my family! I also added one clove of garlic, minced, in with the onion. And instead of mixing the tomato paste in with the spices, I added that at the end with the tomato sauce and other canned ingredients; that way I was able to prepare the spice mix ahead of time in a small bowl.

  6. 5 stars
    This is the first homemade chili I’ve ever made and it was DELICIOUS! The recipe was simple to follow and the ingredients were things that I naturally have in my cupboards. Thank you so much!

  7. 5 stars
    I made this recipe and my son said it was the best chili I’ve ever made!! I have to agree. The spices were spot on and I did add the cayenne, and it was just spicy enough! I will certainly keep this in my recipe file!! Enjoy

  8. 5 stars
    Great, very “classic” chili recipe, much like my mother’s southern rendition. The only difference between recipes is the addition of one can of corn and the beef broth which Mom never used and I didn’t have any on hand so I used vegetable broth instead. All in all it turned out really good much as I had expected. Oh, and another southern addition would be a warm and crispy hunk of cornbread on the side for dipping….😋

  9. 5 stars
    I read all the great reviews for this chili and was looking for a new recipe. This is one of the best chili recipes that I have tried and will be saving this for future lunches and dinners! Because I browned a larger amount of the ground beef, I added extra tomato sauce and an entire can of tomato paste. This turned out amazing!

  10. 5 stars
    I just made this during a monster snow storm….over a foot dropped on us in 24 hours. So, I went to make chili and dang, no chili mix packets. So I had to search for a recipe with the actual spices listed to make it. I know. Ridiculous that I’ve never done that. But wow! This recipe. BEST chili I’ve ever had. I don’t love any kick, at all. So, I left out the cayenne and was just so happy. What a flavor punch. My husband felt the same way. As he was eating it, he said, “OK. We have to have this again. Like right now.” Then, while eating another whopping bowl of it, “Tell me everything that went into this. I love it!”

  11. 5 stars
    I didn’t use as much chili powder or cumin, added a can of black beans too, and it’s the perfect amount of filler in my opinion, I have 6 small kids so they don’t like spicy but the flavor is amazing

  12. 5 stars
    I can rate only as a base recipe because I changed a few key ingredients to make it vegetarian. I used a Not Beef Boullion Cube with 2 cups of water and Beyond Beef. I also added diced green pepper and reduced the sugar (based on the reviews), otherwise I followed all other ingredients. It’s still simmering, but I tasted it and I’m very happy with the result. It will go great over our baked potatoes tonight. Thank you!

  13. 5 stars
    I made this chili recipe for a chili contest I didn’t place top 3 out of 14. I thought it tasted delicious and so did my family.

    1. You probably didn’t get any prizes because it didn’t burn their mouths. I learned at a young age that when cooling chili for contests, they want heat! They don’t understand that not everyone wants their food to bite them back. LOL

  14. 4 stars
    Made this tonight. Smells good, however, too much chili powder. How can I make this work with the leftovers. Can I put something in it to cut the chili powder? I would make it again but cut back on the dry spices.

      1. 5 stars
        I used the Rotel diced tomatoes with habanero peppers instead of plain diced tomatoes for fun😋 it was delicious. I also only used one tablespoon of sugar as any chili recipe I’ve ever used has been too sweet and one was definitely perfect. Waited to salt until nearing the end so I could taste, not sure how much I ended up using. Overall great recipe!

    1. 5 stars
      I always use this recipe when making chili. Very easy to make and the whole family loves it! Thank you!

    2. 5 stars
      I think acid and fat should cut some heat! Try squeezing some limes in there or add some butter maybe? Sorry if it doesn’t work but that would be my first thing I would try 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    I’ve made this delicious chili several times, the only change I made was instead of garlic powder I use fresh garlic, I always have plenty around so I minced 2 but I’m sure the powder is just fine. I also omitted the sugar ( made once with the sugar and family didn’t care for it, too sweet) other than that perfect, simple, and the ingredients I always have handy in my pantry!
    All I buy is the meat and some tortillas.

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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