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My Husband’s Best Stove Top Chili Recipe

Let’s be clear. My husband doesn’t make chili. I do. Every year, my husband begs me to make it, hoping it will taste like the stove top chili recipe he remembers as a kid. I finally nailed it.

It’s a thick hearty chili recipe – medium spicy – with a good meat to tomato balance. 

bowl of chili with bread loaf beside it f

I’m not a chili fan, so I don’t make it very often. And my husband is not a cook by any stretch of the imagination. He was so motivated a couple of years ago, however, that he attempted a recipe himself. Big reject.

This year, he suggested we try a recipe together on our weekly ‘date day’. He flipped through several of my magazines and found one in Food Network Magazine (Oct 2017 Chili edition) that he thought looked right.

We adapted the recipe a bit as my husband insisted it had to include ground beef (not cubed) and it needed to taste more ‘tomato-y’, so we added considerably more tomato paste. With those changes and a warm crusty baguette for dunking, he was a happy man.

I can finally stop looking for a good chili recipe 🙂 This one is thick and rich and medium spicy. As a non-chili fan, I thought it was pretty good too.

Tailor to Your Taste

  • Spice level: Add more heat by leaving in some of the jalapeno seeds, adding another jalapeno, increasing the chili powder, adding diced canned green chilis or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Extra nutrition: If you like, add chopped green pepper, corn, mushrooms, carrots or butternut squash – and sauté them along with the onions.
  • Ground meat substitute: Instead of ground beef, you can use ground turkey, ground chicken, pork or even a plant-based meat like Beyond Beef.
  • Cooking method: Instead of the stove top, cook the chili in a slow cooker or instant pot. Instructions for both are in the recipe notes.
  • Topping options:
    • Grated Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack or fresh Parmesan cheese
    • Homemade croutons (fry bread cubes until golden brown in oil and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder)
    • Crusty French or multi-grain bread, warmed and buttered.
    • A dollop of sour cream
    • Chopped green onions

How to make stovetop chili

minced meat, onion, beans, beef broth, garlic, seasonings, tomato paste and canned tomatoes
Ingredients: ground beef, jalapeno pepper, seasonings, canned tomatoes and beans, onion, tomato paste, beef broth
ground beef sauteed in pot
Sauté beef and onions in a large pot on the stove top. Stir in garlic and jalapeno
finished chili in pot
Add seasonings, beans, broth, tomato paste and tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for about an hour or until thickened the way you like it.
bowl of chili with bread and parmesan sprinkled on it
Spoon into bowls and add your favorite toppings.
bowl of chili with bread and homemade croutons
bowl of chile with buttered bread

Recipe FAQ

What kind of beans go in chili?

The best chili beans are canned red kidney beans, pinto beans or black beans. White beans are good too. Not green beans!

Do you have to rinse kidney beans?

It’s not essential. The slimy liquid surrounding the beans in the can contains starch and salt and can act as a thickener in and any soups, chili and stew. Many prefer to rinse the beans to get rid of the salt. Alternatively, add the liquid and reduce the salt in the recipe.

How do you thicken chili?

There are two good options. First, add beans with their liquid from the can which acts as a thicker. Second, let the chili cook longer uncovered. Chili also thickens on standing or overnight in the fridge. If it becomes too thick, add a bit of water.

How is chili usually served?

Chili is typically served with toppings like sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, croutons or green onions. It can also be served in a taco, on a hamburger or slider bun as sloppy joes or over pasta.

What to serve with chili

Make Ahead 

  • Chili is a great make ahead meal for busy weeknights. It gets thicker as it sits in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove. It keeps in the fridge 4-6 days. Or freeze it in an airtight container in portions for 4-6 months.

If you like chili, you might also like:

bowl of chili with bread loaf beside it f
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4.80 from 5 votes

My Husband’s Best Stove Top Chili Recipe

Let's be clear. My husband doesn't make chili. I do. Every year, he begs me to make it, hoping it will taste like the stove top chili recipe he remembers as a kid. I finally nailed it! Thick and hearty.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 40 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (4 teaspoons)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (remove seeds then finely chop)
  • 3 tablespoon chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 0.5 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin powder
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 ounces/168 grams)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounce)
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth (plus 1 cup water)
  • 2 cans kidney beans (15-ounce X 2) undrained

Instructions

  • SAUTE ONIONS AND GROUND BEEF: In large pot, heat oil to medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add ground beef, breaking up with wooden spoon. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until meat is brown all over, about 4-5 minutes.
  • ADD SPICES ETC: Lower heat to medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for 2 minutes. Add chili powder, salt, cumin and tomato paste. Stir to mix well.
  • ADD LIQUIDS AND COOK: Add tomatoes, broth and water. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour 10 minutes without the cover. Stir occasionally.
  • ADD BEANS TO FINISH: Add beans. No need to rinse unless you want to reduce the salt. The liquid will help thicken the chili. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, uncovered, until the chili is the consistency (thickness) you like. If not thick enough, cook a bit longer (chili will thicken quite a bit on sitting or in the fridge). Taste and adjust seasonings (chili powder, cumin, salt).
  • SERVE: Ladle into bowls and serve with your favorite toppings. Note 1

Notes

  1. Topping options: homemade croutons, Cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese, homemade cornbread, sour cream, green onions, corn chips or warm crusty bread.
  2. Variations: 
    • Spice level: Add more heat by leaving in some of the jalapeno seeds, adding another jalapeno, increasing the chili powder, adding diced canned green chilis or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
    • Extra nutrition: If you like, add chopped green pepper, corn, mushrooms, carrots or butternut squash – and sauté them along with the onions.
    • Ground meat substitute: Instead of ground beef, you can use ground turkey, chicken, pork or even a plant-based meat like Beyond Beef.
  3. Slow cooker method: Brown ground beef and onions in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add to crock pot with remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 5-7 hours. 
  4. Instant Pot method: Set to Sauté function. Brown meat and onions. Pour out grease if needed. Stir in seasonings and beans. Add liquids. DO NOT STIR. Set to high pressure for 10 minutes. Do a natural release. 
  5. Make Ahead: Keeps in the fridge 4-6 days. Or freeze in a sealed container for 3 months. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates and do not include optional toppings. 

Nutrition

Calories: 456kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1729mg | Potassium: 1776mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1745IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 9mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is the best chili I’ve ever made. I did add more cumin and chili powder and a bit of smoked paprika but without these it still would have been the best. It’s just the right amount of heat as well. I used 2 jalapeños and took the seeds out.

    1. Thanks Dale. Tweaking the seasoning and spice level as you did is a must as we all have different tastes. Glad you liked the recipe!