Classic Homemade Beef Chili – The Best Chili Recipe

Get ready to enjoy big, warm bowls of the best easy homemade chili recipe! This family favorite is perfect for serving a crowd on game days or chilly nights when a comforting meal is needed.  Made with simple ingredients like ground beef, beans, tomatoes and spices, this easy chili recipe comes together with little fuss. It’s a whole family pleaser that can be doubled or tripled for big batch cooking. We love to make this chili for family movie nights or football nights all cozied up on the couch.

With just the right amount of spice and hearty texture from ground beef and beans, this chili really satisfies. The rich, chili flavor improves if made a day ahead, making this the perfect make-ahead dish for busy families. Easily freeze leftovers in portions for easy weeknight dinners too!  No matter how you serve it up, this crowd-pleasing chili is one of our cold weather family favorites. So grab your biggest soup pot and let’s get simmering! For those of you who like a white chili option, check out my recipe here!

A Chili Recipe Crafted with Fewer Nightshades

While this chili recipe does include crushed tomatoes, it intentionally uses less tomato products than what are found in a typical chili recipe. This chili calls for just one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes. However, it does not include any tomato paste, tomato sauce, tomato soup, tomato juice or brown sugar. By limiting the amount of tomatoes, this chili offers a hearty, comforting meal without an overwhelming tomato flavor. You still get delicious spices like chili powder and cumin. But with thoughtfully fewer tomatoes, you can enjoy each satisfying bowl of this chili without acidity or bitterness from too much tomato. The small amount of crushed tomatoes provides richness without going overboard. This purposefully crafted recipe proves you can make flavorful chili by selectively choosing tomato products, rather than including every kind.

Make it Paleo by Omitting the Beans

While this chili recipe is not strictly paleo as written due to the pinto beans, it can easily be adapted to fit a paleo diet. To make a paleo version of this chili, simply omit the pinto beans from the ingredient list. The chili will still have plenty of hearty flavor from the ground beef, tomatoes and spices. You may want to slightly increase the amount of vegetables like onion, garlic and bell pepper when making it without the beans. The great thing about chili is that it can be customized to fit different diets, like paleo, by swapping certain ingredients. By leaving out the beans, this chili becomes completely paleo-compliant. The meaty, tomato-based chili still satisfies without compromising on your paleo lifestyle.

Cooking Methods

Stovetop: This chili recipe calls for cooking the chili in a Dutch oven on the stovetop. There’s just something so warm and comforting about letting a bowl of chili simmer for a couple hours, allowing the flavors to meld and develop a rich, deep flavor. However, you can also make this chili in a slow cooker or Instant Pot with great results!

Slow cooker: Add all ingredients to a 6-qt slow cooker and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. You can use a meat masher or the back of a spoon to break up the meat.

Instant Pot: Sauté the onions, garlic and ground beef on the saute setting. Add remaining ingredients, seal the lid, and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally before opening lid. You can use a meat masher or the back of a spoon to break up the meat.

The hands-off convenience of a slow cooker or Instant Pot allows the chili to simmer away while you tackle other tasks. And you still get that same rich chili flavor as cooking it on the stovetop. Feel free to switch up the cooking method to suit your schedule!

How to Freeze Chili

Leftover chili freezes beautifully, making it easy to enjoy this hearty meal even on busy weeknights. Simply transfer any remaining chili to an airtight container after dinner. Allow the chili to cool completely before sealing the container and placing in the freezer. Frozen chili will keep for 2-3 months, giving you plenty of time to enjoy it again. When ready to eat, thaw the frozen chili overnight in the refrigerator. Then reheat on the stovetop until piping hot. Freezing leftover chili in airtight containers allows you to enjoy this crowd-pleasing meal over and over.


Feel free to adapt this chili recipe to your tastes and what you have on hand! Here are some easy substitutions:

  • Ground meat: Instead of ground beef, try ground turkey or ground chicken.
  • Broth: The beef broth can be swapped for chicken broth or vegetable broth.
  • Spice level: Adjust the heat by adding cayenne pepper, adobo or extra chili powder.
  • Extra Vegetables: Sauté some diced red or green bell peppers and add them in for extra veggies.
  • Beans: Use black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or cannellini beans instead of pinto beans.
  • Tomatoes: You can use 2 cans (14 oz each) of diced tomatoes instead of crushed.
  • Toppings: Get creative with toppings like tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, lime, onion, cheese, etc.

Don’t be afraid to make this recipe your own with these substitutions and additions! The variations are endless for this customizable chili.

Homemade Blend of Chili Seasoning

In lieu of chili seasoning you can make your own! 

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

*Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Store in an air-tight container, away from heat and moisture for up to six months.

*Makes enough for one pot of chili (about 6 servings).

*If the chili powder you are using is spicy, you can reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper from this recipe.

Serving Suggestions

We like to eat our chili in a bowl with toppings, on top of nachos or added to a baked potato or baked sweet potato.  This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd or as a freezer friendly meal for a busy weeknight dinner.  My favorite way to enjoy this chili is with by topping with grain free chips, dairy-free sour cream and some fresh cilantro.


Classic Homemade Beef Chili – The Best Chili Recipe

Sarah Erickson
This is a family favorite! Cozy up on a cold day and enjoy this classic chili recipe with options to make it paleo!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner, lunch, Soup
Cuisine American


  • 1 TBS avocado oil
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz kidney beans omit for paleo
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ¾ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup beef broth

Favorite toppings:

  • Chips: Corn chips tortilla chips or grain-free chips
  • Sour cream unsweetened coconut milk for dairy free
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Avocados
  • Lime wedge
  • Cornbread
  • Red Onion
  • Crumbled Bacon
  • Green onions
  • Hot sauce
  • Diced tomatoes


  • Heat Dutch oven over medium heat. Add avocado oil, ground beef, salt and pepper. Cook through using a fork or spoon to break up any lumps.
  • Once fully cooked through, remove all but 2 TBS of excess fat. Keep meat in Dutch oven and add onions and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes until onions start to soften.
  • Add chili powder, paprika and cumin and saute spices for about 30-60 seconds.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, kidney beans (if using), and broth. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  • Taste and add salt if needed.
  • Serve with desired toppings.


Dairy Free Sour Cream: If you’re looking to add a dollop of sour cream and need a dairy-free substitute, Culina and Coco June make fabulous dairy free substitutes with their unsweetened, unflavored coconut milk yogurt.  These taste just like real sour cream!
Keyword beef chili, chili, cozy, gluten free, paleo, soup

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