Our favorite classic chili recipe combines ground beef and beans with an intensely flavorful, spiced sauce. With our easy recipe, you can make a pot of delicious chili in about one hour. Feel free to swap the beef for another ground meat like turkey, chicken, or pork. We recommend keeping some fat in the meat, so look for ground meat with 10% to 20% fat.
1 pound ground beef, 10% to 20% fat
1 large white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced, one heaping tablespoon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder blend, see notes
1 tablespoon pure ancho chili powder, see notes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or chipotle powder, optional for heat
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, pureed, see notes
1 ½ to 2 cups stock, use vegetable, chicken, or beef
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon masa harina or 1 to 2 small corn tortillas torn into small pieces, optional
Salt, to taste, we add 1 to ½ teaspoons
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large pot (like a Dutch oven). Add the ground meat and flatten it down into the oil. Wait a minute or two, or until the underside of the beef has browned, and then use a wooden spoon to break the meat apart into smaller crumbles. Cook, occasionally stirring, until the meat is well browned, about 7 minutes.
Add the onions, and cook, occasionally stirring, until they begin to sweat and soften, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne (or chipotle powder), and 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt. Cook for one minute.
Pour in the tomatoes and 1 ½ cups of stock. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot to lift any bits of onion or meat that’s stuck. Bring the chili to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and then cook, partially covered, for 15 minutes. If you notice the chili is dry, turn the heat down a little and add an extra 1/2 cup of stock.
Taste the chili, and then add salt as needed. We typically add another 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon but add to your taste.
Stir in the beans and cook until they are warmed through, about 5 minutes.
Mix the tablespoon of masa with three tablespoons of water into a smooth paste, and then stir into the chili. If you are using corn tortillas instead of the masa paste, tear the tortillas into small pieces, and then stir into the chili. After a minute or so, the tortillas will disintegrate into the chili.
Take the chili off of the heat, and then serve.