Best Ground Beef Chili

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Ground Beef Chili

Chili is a winter mainstay at my house, whether for a cozy dinner in front of the TV or a Super Bowl party. As such, I’ve shared several tried-and-true chili recipes with you over the years – White Chicken Chili, Texas Beef Chili, and Chicken Chili with White Beans – but none of them are made with the most common chili ingredient: ground beef. That’s because I always find ground beef chili to be a little dry and tough, no matter what type of ground beef I use or how long I cook it. But recently I discovered a tenderizing technique on Cook’s Illustrated that calls for treating ground beef with a baking soda solution before cooking. The idea is that baking soda raises the pH of the meat, helping to lock in moisture and accelerate browning. It works like a charm! This ground beef chili is melt-in-your-mouth tender, thick, and rich — and wonderful over rice or scooped up with tortilla chips. I keep it on the mild side for the kids but feel free to add more chipotle chili powder at the end, if you like.

how to make ground beef chili

Note that the recipe calls for 85% lean ground beef. Don’t be tempted to use extra-lean beef or drain off the fat after browning. The fat bastes the meat during cooking, adding richness and flavor, plus you can skim it off at the end. I don’t use any beans in this chili — my kids tend to eat around them — but feel free to add a can of drained beans for the last half hour of cooking. (Any kind of beans will work.)

how to make ground beef chili

Begin by combining the ground beef, salt, baking soda, and water in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix until evenly combined. Let the beef mixture sit for 20 minutes.

how to make ground beef chili

Meanwhile, chop the veggies.

veggies-1

I use a food processor to speed this up, but it’s fine to chop by hand too.

veggies-2

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions, garlic, and red pepper.

how to make ground beef chili

Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.

how to make ground beef chili

Add the beef and increase the heat to high.

how to make ground beef chiliCook, stirring with wooden spoon to break up the meat, until the beef is browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

how to make ground beef chili

The beef will release a lot of fat and liquid — do not drain it; you’ll skim the fat off at the end. Add the ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, smoked paprika, and cinnamon.

how to make ground beef chiliCook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, until well combined and fragrant.

how to make ground beef chili

Add the cornmeal, beef broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and molasses.

how to make ground beef chili Bring to a boil.

how to make ground beef chili

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Skim any excess fat off of the surface of the chili — there will be quite a bit.

how to make ground beef chiliStir in the lime juice, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve with accompaniments and enjoy!

Ground Beef Chili

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Best Ground Beef Chili

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Total Time: 3 Hours

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 2 small), minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (optional, if you like your chili a little sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from 1 lime

For Serving (optional)

  • Cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream, cheese, scallions

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the beef, salt, baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of water. Using your hands, mix until evenly combined. Let the beef mixture sit on the counter for 20 minutes.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, garlic, and red pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the beef and increase the heat to high; cook, stirring with wooden spoon to break the meat into 1/4-inch pieces, until the beef is browned, 10 to 12 minutes. (The beef will release a lot of liquid -- do not drain it; you'll skim the fat off at the end.)
  3. Add the ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, smoked paprika, and cinnamon; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, until well combined and fragrant.
  4. Stir in the cornmeal, broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and molasses; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
  5. Skim any excess fat off the surface of the chili. (There will be quite a bit; don't worry about getting all of it, as it adds flavor.) Stir in the lime juice, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. For a thinner chili, you can add a bit of water. To thicken the chili, continue simmering, uncovered, until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Make Ahead: Cool slightly, and then refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  7. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The chili can be frozen for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 655
  • Fat: 44 g
  • Saturated fat: 15 g
  • Carbohydrates: 28 g
  • Sugar: 15 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 39 g
  • Sodium: 1711 mg
  • Cholesterol: 134 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • I made this ahead of time for Halloween night dinner. I added roasted sweet potatoes and corn while reheating this dish. My family LOVED it! My daughter said it was the best chili I’ve made yet!

    • — Jamie Robinson on November 1, 2018
    • Reply
  • I’ve tried so many other chili recipes, and they all turn out just about the same… and not what I’m looking for. But this? WINNER!! This is exactly the flavor and consistency of chili I’d been searching to find. It is quite spicy, but pleasantly so, and it’s hard to stop eating it because it’s so flavorful. Leftovers were drier/soaked liquids in after refrigeration (which is expected), but I mixed in a little bit of water at a time, until the consistency was right again – and then re-heated the portion. This one is going in my recipe-binder as a keeper. I imagine if you’d want to add beans to it, it would still be good. Paired with some cornbread, this will be making a constant appearance throughout winter. Thank you for sharing!

    • — Sara on October 29, 2018
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  • I am planning to make this chili this week but need to double the recipe. should i double all of the amounts listed or do I need to tweak any thing? thanks

    • — Michelle from Michelle on October 25, 2018
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    • Hi Michelle, I’d just double everything – no tweaks. Enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2018
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  • I love this recipe. It’s the best recipe of beef chilli I have come across so far. The second time I made I added the beans into the chilli for thickening effect and it turns out very well. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

    • — Mickey K on October 23, 2018
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  • Any thoughts on using a slower cooker in lieu of stovetop? I currently am lacking a pot that is big enough but would love to try out your recipe. It’s getting colder – time for some good chili!

    • — Stephanie Nguyen on October 22, 2018
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    • Hi Stephanie, You could but I’d still cook the veggies and meat on the stovetop first.

      • — Jenn on October 23, 2018
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  • This is SO good that I can’t stop eating it, and I am not a big chili eater. My husband wanted me to make chili and when I found your recipe that includes molasses I knew I had to try it. IT IS THE BEST! Thanks so much and I know I will make this often. Your recipes are my favorite.

    • — Gloria T on October 15, 2018
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  • I really liked this chili, it came together quickly, it was dark, rich and it thickened quickly. I did use Penzey’s Chili 9000 (recommend!) for some of the chili powder, and added Rancho Gordo Domingo Rojo beans. So yummy! I don’t know why, but I found I also really liked this chili topped with sliced green olives.

    • — May on October 14, 2018
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  • Once again a great recipe Jenn. We enjoyed this for dinner tonight & loved it with sour cream & avocado on top. It has a great flavour, quite different than any other Chili we’ve had. We like beans so I did add some kidney & black beans. Every recipe I have tried on your site, we love. Thanks so much for sharing Jenn.

    • — Dana Salvador on October 5, 2018
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  • Easy and delicious! I used the lower amount of chipotle spice and found it perfect. My husband added hot sauce as he does to everything. My kids like some spice and they said it was tasty.
    Your recipes make me feel like I really can cook a tasty meal. I couldn’t figure out why I was so frustrated with cooking until I came across your blog. So many recipes I have found online miss important details and have not been tested adequately. Thank you for your recipes and I love your cookbook!

    • — Aileen on October 4, 2018
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  • We love this recipe. I have made it several times, sometimes substituting dried poblano and paprika from my garden.

    • — Sheila Kroeker on October 4, 2018
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  • This is the best chili recipe! It is my go to recipe for chili. The texture and flavor are wonderful.

    • — Mary on October 4, 2018
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  • This recipe looks delicious! However, I would like to add beans. Would I need to make any adjustments for adding two cans of kidney beans? Also, if I make this in advance, what is the best way to warm it before serving?

    • — Naz on October 1, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Naz, you can definitely add beans here during the last 30 minutes of cooking. I’d recommend sticking to one can, but if you prefer to use two, the chili will just be a bit thicker. And if you’re refrigerating it, just reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 2, 2018
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  • Being from Cincinnati, I can say the addition of cinnamon and molasses definitely gives this a Cincinnati-style chili taste.

    That’s not my favorite style of chili, though it’s certainly well-suited to pasta or rice as a mix-in. I prefer a more traditional chili-with-beans dish.

    Still giving this a positive overall rating. Just because something isn’t exactly to my taste doesn’t make it a bad recipe. We ended up serving this as a nacho dish and it was fine.

    If you like a milder/sweeter no-bean chili, this will likely fill the bill.

    • — Ryan on September 30, 2018
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  • I followed the recipe exactly and the baking soda made it taste bitter. I have only used baking soda for baking and never with meats. I could not eat it and I made a double batch. What a waste of money!

    • — Emy on September 28, 2018
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  • WOW!!! I’ve never tasted a Chili so full of flavor! I spent a small fortune buying all the spices but sooooooo worth it. I followed the recipe with all of it’s ingredients from sugar and spices to cornmeal and molasses … tasting all the way. But the topper is the lime juice at the end. It has spicy heat but not for long. “Try it, you’ll like it”!!! Thank you Jennifer! 😋

    • — Marcia on September 17, 2018
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  • This recipe is a winner! I am a Pacific NW native, but I prefer flavorful foods like from the Southwest. I am wheat/corn intolerant so I had to omit the corn meal and use arrowroot. Beans are off my diet as well, so this chili recipe is PERFECT for my needs! In my opinion the additional sweetness is an amazing game changer for chili. By the way, this was my first chili attempt!

    • — Dori on September 16, 2018
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  • I made this recipe precisely as directed, using brand-new bulk spices from Central Market (a local gourmet grocery). On the plus side, the meat was tender and not overly dry. But, the chili was very bland – it was sorely lacking in chili flavor, heat, salt, umami… you name it, it was missing it (except sweetness – the vegetables plus molasses plus sugar made it just a touch too sweet). I can only surmise this is a recipe intended to suit a midwestern palate, as no one I know would find this interesting or even passable chili. With some tweaks (including the addition of a lot more chili powder, salt, marmite, and dousing it with hot sauce before serving), it was edible, but the five star rating suggests people outside of Texas have vastly different expectations of chili.

    • — Lindsey on September 11, 2018
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  • I am planning on making this today with ground turkey. Would you still use beef broth or should i use a poutlry broth? Thank you so much!

    • — Vikki Longo on September 9, 2018
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    • Hi Vikki, I’d use chicken broth. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 9, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn. Any thoughts on making this vegetarian by using TVP/veggie crumbles/veggies and vegetable broth? I’ve done that when winging chili in the past with good results…but I love all your recipes and value your experience and recommendations!

    • — Frankie on September 6, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Frankie, Glad you like the recipes! 🙂 I’ve never worked with veggie crumbles of any kind, so it’s hard to say for sure, but I definitely think it’s worth a try. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn! Can I substitute something for the cornmeal, or would it be okay to leave it out? Would love some chili, but have no access to cornmeal at the local store where I am!

    • — Elise on July 20, 2018
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    • You could probably get away with omitting the cornmeal, although it helps to thicken the chili. If you have corn tortillas on hand, you could grind a few up in a food processor and use them. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 20, 2018
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      • Thank you so much for the reply, Jenn! I did blend up a couple of corn tortillas with the broth, and the chili was absolutely delicious. I will make this again and again, it was a huge hit with my family!

        • — Elise on July 21, 2018
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        • Glad everyone enjoyed! 🙂

          • — Jenn on July 21, 2018
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  • I was trying to find a chili recipe to use for guests I am having for July 4th but wanted to try it out first before serving it to others and it was fantastic. I added a can of beans as other reviewers had suggested. This will now be my “go-to” chili recipe. Thanks you for always providing great foolproof recipes!

    • — Nancy A on July 1, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn,

    Made your chili today. Not to overstate, but that’s the best chili recipe I’ve ever made. There were a few things I liked about it. First, as you make it, the recipe fills the house with amazing chili fragrance. Second, it was simple and last of all it tastes even better than it smells. Truly a masterpiece recipe, thanks for sharing it and that is how I will make chili forever after.

    • — Jack on June 9, 2018
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    • ☺️

      • — Jenn on June 9, 2018
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  • My second review, just because we love this recipe so much. In our humble opinion, what makes this the best is
    1– the broth. Instead of a thick tomato-y sauce this is a rich flavorful beefy tomato sauce. May be too soupy for some but the broth is one of the keys.
    2– spice combination is perfect. Not just “chili powder.” It’s part of what makes the broth so great.
    3– adding beans towards the end. They aren’t mushy and two cans is plenty. We don’t like too many beans in ours.

    So thanks again for sharing another awesome dish with us!

    • — Anne on April 19, 2018
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  • I only have 1lb of lean ground turkey, would this be ok? If so, should I do half of all the other ingredients?

    • — Karen on April 17, 2018
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    • Yes, I think cutting the other ingredients by half (if not a tiny bit more) will work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 17, 2018
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      • It was a big hit, thank you!

        • — Karen on April 17, 2018
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  • I have been cooking for my husband for over 40 years (along with 4 kids) so I’ve made chili many times. Sometimes with a recipe and sometimes not. When I made this recipe the first time, my husband said it was the best I’d ever made. When I made it again, he said the same thing. I think I have found my “chili recipe for life”!

    • — Anne on April 17, 2018
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  • Hi -if I want to add a can or two of beans should/can I reduce some of the ground beef?

    • — Marsha on March 13, 2018
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    • Hi Marsha, you can reduce the beef, but you definitely don’t have to. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 13, 2018
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  • A little spicier than I like but received compliments from my guests. Served with sour cream and cheese.

    • — Kim on March 7, 2018
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  • A little spicier than I like, but I served with cheese over rice. I did receive compliments from my guests.

    • — Kim on March 6, 2018
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  • Our new favorite chili! I did add one can kidney beans, rinsed and drained. Froze half for another meal. I’ll use this recipe again and again. So much extra flavor–love the spices and little extras, like the molasses and cinnamon. Don’t leave anything out and you will love this chili!

    • — Lynn on March 4, 2018
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  • Have made this a few times now and we love it. I didn’t have chipotle chili powder the last time, but I had the canned chipoltles so I chopped two or three and added with other spices.

    • — Cathy on March 3, 2018
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  • Your recipe for Best Ground Beef Chile is the best Chile I’ve ever made! My husband even requests it in the summer—it’s truly delicious! I did make one slight change. Instead of 2T molasses, I now use 1T maple syrup. It seems just a touch less sweet which my family enjoys better. I’ve tried quite a few of your recipes, and I love them all!

    • — Nicole Hogue on March 1, 2018
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  • I made this last night. My husband likes this the best. I was out of molasses, but will try it next time. One more layer of goodness. After trying a few of your 5 star recipes, you will now always be included when I search for the perfect recipe.

    • — Kathy Trimbach on February 13, 2018
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  • The best chili we have ever made ! Perfect combination of ingredients!

    • — oral n foster on February 9, 2018
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  • Deliciously different. Lighter than my own Texas style red, but not too light. This is a chili that would have broad appeal, whereas some chili is just too intense, and/or hot to have appeal to some. The chili’s base is thick, but not mucky, and very smooth on the tongue. Poured over pasta (gasp!) it does not break down into a watery mess. Definitely a keeper.

    • — David Aleksy on February 7, 2018
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  • This chili recipe is awesome.
    I upped the spices and subbed smoked German stout for beef broth.
    I do not think there was one person who did not go back for seconds and thirds. 100% using this recipe again and again.
    I added lentils and another small bean so as not to detract from the beef forefront.
    Perfect!!!

    • — Christopher Scott on February 5, 2018
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  • Made the chili this morning for Super Bowl tonight. Very different from my traditional chili, but I love it! I added kidney beans ( which I soaked for a few hours) the last hour of simmer. Drained the hamburger grease a few times. It has a very nice flavor, almost a cross between traditional chili and Cincinnati chili, I think. I highly recommend trying .

    • — Tom on February 4, 2018
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  • This is now my go to chili recipe it is awesome. Tastes even better the next day.

    • — Meredith Loveless on February 4, 2018
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  • You don’t say how much water to add to the beef along with baking soda and salt

    • — Mary M> on February 3, 2018
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    • Hi Mary, The amount is in the instructions (1 tablespoon) – I know it’s a little confusing but typically when water is used in a recipe, it is not listed in the ingredients.

      • — Jenn on February 3, 2018
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  • My grocery store is out of corn meal (and tomorrow is the Super Bowl)! I picked up masa harina instead… would that work?

    • — Maribeth on February 3, 2018
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    • I think that’d be fine, Maribeth – you could also use finely crushed tortilla chips.

      • — Jenn on February 3, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn! Your recipes are the absolute best and this one is no exception. The flavors are incredible! Question though, the next time I make it, I’m going to do it the day before I need it. Instead of skimming the fat after cooking, could I do it the next day after it’s cold? Will the fat solidify on top as it would chicken soup?
    Thanks in advance for the help and for always having no fail recipes!

    • — Lisa on February 3, 2018
    • Reply
    • Yes, Lisa, much of the fat should rise to the top and make it easy to remove. (And glad you like the recipes!) 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 3, 2018
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  • My family all agreed this was the best chili they had ever tasted. I followed the recipe except for the two chili powders. I did not have these on hand so I substituted samba oelek chili paste instead. It was delicious!

    • — Margaret Barclay on February 1, 2018
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  • Last night made your best ever chili and served it with your corn muffins.Will be making it again soon was so good.

    • — Vickie on February 1, 2018
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  • Hello Jenn,
    BTW I love your recipes! My question is why do you add the baking soda?
    Thanks, Diane

    • — Diane Richardson on February 1, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Diane, Baking soda does wonders for ground beef in some recipes. It raises the pH, which helps lock in moisture and keeps the beef from getting dry and crumbly.

      • — Jenn on February 1, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn, I’m making the chili for a group of 7 people over Super Bowl, do I need to double the beef? I was also planning to add beans. Also can I omit the onions? We have some picky eaters. Instead of the chipotle powder can I use adobo sauce with chipotle pepper. I love your recipes!

    Thank you.

    • — NIDA on January 29, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi, If this is for Super Bowl, I’m guessing that there will be plenty of other food, so I don’t think it’s necessary to double the beef. You can definitely add beans. Omitting the onions is fine, but they do add nice flavor, so perhaps I’d dice an onion and offer it on the side so people can top their chili with it if they’d like. Lastly, you can use can chipotle chili peppers in place of the chipotle chili powder. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on January 30, 2018
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  • I really like this chili. I make chili rather frequently, and I love to “change it up”. This has been simmering on my stove for about three hours and I love the deep, developed flavors. I would spice it up more next time – I added one jalepeno but I would like two or three next time. It’s addicting! I’m serving it tonight with cornbread. Mmm.. going in my regular chili rotation. thank you.

    • — Wendy Cramer on January 18, 2018
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  • My family devoured & loved this chili. I did add two cans of black beans. Thank you for trustworthy and tasty recipes!

    • — Pamela Romines on January 17, 2018
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  • I don’t have any bell peppers on hand, can you make another suggestion?

    • — Debbie Rodriguez on January 17, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Debbie, you could just omit it or use minced celery instead. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2018
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      • I made this chili tonight and it was absolutely delicious!!!!! My husband said it was the best chili he’d ever tasted and that’s saying a lot because he is such a foodie. Thanks again for another wonderful dish!

        • — Debbie Rodriguez on January 17, 2018
        • Reply
  • Just to be safe, why add molasses to chili? Would it still work if it does not have it?

    • — Bianca on January 9, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Bianca, you can leave it out — I’d just add another teaspoon or two of sugar, to taste. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 9, 2018
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  • I absolutely LOVE this recipe! It brought back childhood memories of playing outside with friends in the cold and coming inside for a wonderfully savory bowl of chili. I made a few adjustments by incorporating ingredients from my previously beloved chili recipe that won me 2nd place at last year’s office chili cookoff. I added half a jar of Pace salsa, omitted molasses and lime because I had neither. Replaced the chipotle powder with 1tbs of sauce and one chopped chili from a can of chipotle chilis. The beef tenderizer definitely made a difference too, my boyfriend was raving about it (and I’ve made chili for him many times in our 7 years together)! My one criticism might be that it’s a bit salty and I love salt. I even used low sodium beef broth which is rare for me. At least with salt it’s easy to add more so for this recipe I would half the amount and add more to taste towards the end of cooking.

    • — Sam on January 4, 2018
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    • Oh, and I also added beans. Two cans of dark red kidney and one can light red kidney beans. Can’t have chili without beans in my opinion!

      • — Sam on January 4, 2018
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  • My kids loved it and asked for it two nights in a row.

    • — Ann-Marie on January 4, 2018
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  • My kids asked for 3rds!!

    • — Ann-Marie on January 4, 2018
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  • I made this on New Year’s Day and followed the directions with 3 exceptions.
    1. Omitted the molasses as I didn’t have any.
    2, Added 1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper that I needed to use up!
    3. Added 1 29 oz can kidney beans as family prefers chili with beans.

    Delicious!

    • — Margaret on January 3, 2018
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  • Exquisite! Layers and layers of complex and enticing flavors and because a chef has already perfected the recipe it is easy to make. I’m going to steal these recipes and use them as the head chef of a five star restaurant. Yes, that’s the ticket! 😊

    • — Sarah Wise on January 1, 2018
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  • I am from a Texas somInhave both eaten and made lots of chilli all my life. I have a recipe that I’ve used for years. Decided to try this one because I have enjoyed most of the Jenn’s Recipes. It has a good flavor, However, I recommend draining the fat from the meat prior to cooking. I spent a lot of time skimming fat. I personally don’t enjoy a lot of fat in my chilli.

    • — Bonnie on December 31, 2017
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  • Honestly — five stars. It was the best I have ever made at home. I did add more cornmeal every 20 minutes or so which I think thickened it up. It was so so good….I am still thinking about it!! Thank you!

  • Can you make this in a crock pot?

    • — Amy on December 21, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Amy, You could but I’d still cook the veggies and meat on the stovetop first.

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2017
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  • SO GOOD! The trick with the baking soda is genius and totally made a difference. I love the molasses and cinnamon, gives such a fun flavor. Thank you so much. This is a new staple in my house.

    • — Julia on December 18, 2017
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  • I’ve tried many chili recipes, but this is hands down my family’s favorite. Even though I didn’t have molasses (used sugar) or cornmeal on hand, the chili still turned out awesome! Great flavor. I’ve served it over spaghetti with shredded cheddar, with toasted cornbread, and by itself in a bowl. My husband says it would be great chili to make nachos with!

    • — Jane on November 21, 2017
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  • This chili was AHH-MAAAY-ZIIINNNGGG!!! My husband raved about it and said it was the best chili I’ve ever made. (That NEVER happens!) This will be my “go-to” chili recipe from now on. I reduced the chipotle chili power to about 1/2 Tbsp and it was still a little too spicy for me so I added a half-drained can of black beans, and simmered for about 30 mins. longer with the lid off to thicken it a bit. Chili perfection!

    • — Cara Robinette on November 21, 2017
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  • Love all your recipes! What could I substitute for the cornmeal to thicken the chili?

    • — Jane on November 13, 2017
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  • I am a great fan and can’t wait to get your cookbook; I have pre-ordered it, and wish you great luck.
    This was the first recipe of yours that I found the need to amend…
    We thought it was very bland, even though we are not fans of really “hot” spices. However, I added more of the spices, kept tasting, and eventually added some Texas Hot Sauce. I served it over rice, as recommended, with condiments of sour cream, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro, and an extra wedge of lime, and it was terrific. Rave reviews.
    Thank you for your expertise and imagination!
    C. Frazer, Gloucester, VA

    • — Carolie Frazer on November 12, 2017
    • Reply
  • What does ancho chilli add, can’t find it in my market.

    • Hi M, ancho chili powder has slightly more heat than regular chili powder. If you aren’t able to find it, you could just use regular chili powder, or even canned chipotle peppers in adobo. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 7, 2017
      • Reply
  • Just tried this recipe and it was a hit with kids and adults. Followed recipe; however, I did add can of red beans for the kids. Served it over cornbread. Very flavorful and spice/heat comes after mouthful.

    • — runnerz on October 5, 2017
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  • I loved this recipe so much that I made it again just to freeze it for future meals!! But I’ve seemed to have overfilled a jar. It expanded and the lid popped off in the freezer. Do you think it’s salvageable? OR a wasted effort 😓 it’s thawing right now. Please help! You’re my cooking guru!!

    • — Toria on October 5, 2017
    • Reply
    • I think it should be fine, Toria. So glad you like the recipe!

      • — Jenn on October 5, 2017
      • Reply
  • This is our new favourite chili recipe! I couldn’t find ancho chili power, so I substituted regular but next time I will probably add something else for more heat. I alos added kidney beans, which was a no brainer. SO happy I’ve discovered this site, all the recipes I’ve tried have been great, which is very refreshing after all the pinterest fails I’ve had to throw out!

    • — Rochelle on October 1, 2017
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  • This is my favorite chili recipe. I’ve made it 3 times. The first time I made it as written. My family likes it best when I omit the cinnamon. I also add a can of pinto beans and dark red kidney beans (both drained and rinsed) and use regular chili powder. Great recipe! Thank you!

    • — Deena on September 20, 2017
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  • I made this chili tonight. I really liked the idea of using the food processor to mince the veggies. I added some kidney beans to the mix and paired the chili with cornbread. Delicious! Thank you for sharing this one.

    • — Ginny J on September 18, 2017
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    • I just saw Heather’s review below. Looks like she and I were on the same wavelength tonight. 🙂 I forgot to mention tenderizing the meat worked incredibly well. Definitely will use that trick again sometime.

      • — Ginny J on September 18, 2017
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  • This chili is so good! I’ve tried many different recipes and they never seem to have enough flavor. This one has the depth of flavor I’ve been looking for. It also has that nice chili texture, not too thin like some others I’ve tried. I loved the idea of putting the peppers, onions, and garlic in the food processor because my kids usually pick out onions and peppers. This way they just ate the whole bowl and everyone liked it! Finally! I did add a can of red beans because I like beans in chili. I’ll definitely be making this again! Thank you!!

    • — Heather on September 18, 2017
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  • This is my go-to recipe when I want quick chili. It’s the right balance of flavor and labor (even for a weeknight!), and the addition of baking soda to the ground beef is inspired.

    However, if I’ve got a couple extra minutes and want to take the chili game to the next level, I like to ditch the dried spices (mine are too often not fresh enough anyway!) for dried whole chilies. I toast a combination of Pasilla, New Mexico, or California chilies, seed and slice them, then rehydrate with a little chicken broth and some umami boosters (like soy sauce, tomato paste, etc.). A quick spin in the blender yields a rich paste that makes an even better base for the rest of the chili.

    However, the recipe as-is certainly requires fewer dishes and still tastes great, so it all depends on my needs for the night… 😉

    • — Danielle on September 14, 2017
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  • Hi Jenn!
    Would I be able to substitute a chipotle pepper in adobo for the dried chipotle? If so, How much woyld you recommend adding? Thanks!

    • — Yvonne on September 7, 2017
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    • Sure, Yvonne – I’d go with one and you could always add more at the end to increase the heat, if you like.

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2017
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  • Hi Jenn!
    I plan on making this and wanted to know if it would still have a great taste if I omitted the chilis altogether and used regular paprika (its extremely difficult to find smoked where I live)?

    • — Sarah on July 15, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Sarah, you have a couple options if it’s hard for you to find the chipotle and ancho chile powders; you could just use regular chili powder, or even canned chipotle peppers in adobo. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 17, 2017
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  • This chili was excellent! I’m from Australia and used ground roo instead of beef…very lean so definitely no fat to skim off. I have never heard of mixing baking soda in but will definitely use that tip for other roo recipes. As a matter of taste I left out the molasses, and I also cut the veggies chunky as we prefer them that way. I mixed all the spices together and added them to the veggie mixture and sauted for a couple of minutes before adding the meat. I also added a mixture of beans in the last half hour. Melted cheese on corn chips and served with gauc. So yummy, thank you!

    • — Gwyneviere on July 5, 2017
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  • I have a quick question- I made this but realize it’s going to be too spicy for most of my family. Is there anything I can do to tone down the heat now that it’s already done? I was thinking to add beans and serve over rice? Thanks!

    • — Sara on June 1, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Sara, That’s exactly what I would recommend. Hope everyone enjoys it!

      • — Jenn on June 1, 2017
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    • Over mashed potatoes is very good, too.

      • — Renee on December 28, 2017
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  • I live in a country where it’s really hard to find ground beef. If I substitute ground pork, should I still use the tenderizing method with baking soda? Or is pork different enough that it wouldn’t work?

    • — Katie on June 1, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Katie, You can skip that step with pork. Please let me know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on June 1, 2017
      • Reply
  • This is an amazing chili recipe! I’ve made it several times including trading out the beef for turkey when we wanted something a little healthier. I add a generous dash of cayenne since my family loves spicy! Along with black and kidney beans and it’s a perfect chunkiness and consistency. Definitely a recipe to keep!

    • — Julia Goryachy on May 2, 2017
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  • Has become my go-to chili recipe. Sooo good!

    • — Mark on April 27, 2017
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  • Just delicious! I didn’t find the recipe to be sweet, just flavourful with a lovely woody undertone. I’m not usually a fan of chili, but made this as my husband loves chili (and what better meal during a snow storm in Maine); I loved it! Hubbie is especially thrilled, as this was his most favourite chili ever (and that’s saying something!) and I will most definitely be making it more frequently, as I was relishing each bite! Loved throwing all the veggies in the food processor, made preparation super quick and easy, meat just melted in the mouth, and lined up all the herbs ready to fire in the pot! Again, thank you for yet another winner of a recipe!

    • — Caroline on March 14, 2017
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  • Why the baking soda?

    • — Stephanie Oskie on March 6, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Stephanie, The baking soda raises the pH of the meat, helping to lock in moisture and accelerate browning (which helps make it very tender). Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 7, 2017
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  • After I tasted this chill, I immediately ripped up my previous recipe and put this in its place. It is so so good. The spice combination is just perfect. A must try. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe!

    • — Nurse12 on March 2, 2017
    • Reply
  • Had this for dinner tonight. Tasted great. Wife and I are not too big on spicy foods so I reduced the chipotle chili pepper to 1 teaspoon. I would advise anyone making this to have all your ingredients out in advance. Get the spices all measured out and in a small bowl ready to add. Also, have the onion, red pepper and garlic all sliced up and ready to add. There isn’t enough time to do those things while the meat is cooking. Local store only had 80 and 90% lean ground beef so went with the 80 and skimmed a lot of fat off it. Still came out great.

    • — Jim Matthews 219/17 on February 19, 2017
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  • Thank you for sharing this delicious Beef Chilli recipe! I have been searching for a recipe like this for a very long time and knew that I could rely on you to post an amazing recipe that my whole family would love!! I followed the recipe exactly with the only addition of a can of red kidney beans. I will be making this chilli again very soon and will not be making any substitutions or changes. I served the chilli over rice with corn chips on the side and everyone enjoyed it so much they came back for seconds! Using the baking soda and salt made a big difference to the beef, I loved how the meat turned into little meatballs! Do you think this recipe would work with ground chicken as a different option to the beef?! Thanks again!!

    • — Marilyn on February 18, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Marilyn, so glad your family enjoyed the chili! Yes, you can use ground chicken here– if you do, need to use the baking soda but don’t omit the salt (just add with the other spices). I’d love to hear how it turns out with chicken!

      • — Jenn on February 20, 2017
      • Reply
  • This chili is delicious — and a perfect party recipe! I was astonished at what a difference it made to tenderize the meat beforehand: the texture was silky smooth. (BTW, I used 80/20 ground beef because our grocery store only sells 90/10 or 80/20, and I thought the higher fat option would work better.) Since no one in my family cares for overly spicy chili, I went easy on the chipotle chili powder — and the combination of the other spices was just lovely. Towards the end of cooking I added one can of red kidney beans and actually wished I hadn’t. I like beans, but I thought they distracted a bit from the sweet, slightly complex taste of the beef/spice/tomato combination — so what I will do the next time is to warm up some beans and put them on the side. Chopped avocado and a little grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese on top were nice additions. On the side I served the pumpkin cornbread muffins whose recipe is on this site; the muffins are yummy, but I think I prefer something with a little more crunch (e.g., corn chips) on the side.

    • — Marie-Jeanne on February 14, 2017
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  • Absolutely delicious! My family loved it.

    • — Traci Power on February 14, 2017
    • Reply
  • Can I use the baking soda solution on chop meat when I am making a Bolognese sauce.
    It worked so well on the chili. Great, great chili recipe.

    Also as a thickening agent, can cornmeal be used on other recipes instead of flour or cornstarch.

    • Yes and yes :).

      • — Jenn on February 13, 2017
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  • This really is the best ground beef chili I have ever had. It comes on somewhat sweet initially, but then the overall blend of spices and flavors come in followed by some nice heat. I did not have a lime, but it was perfect to us. The ground beef was very tender too. I cooked the vegetables & the beef, added the spice mix and cooked that as in the recipe. Then threw all ingredients in a crock pot & into the fridge overnight. In the morning I set it on low for 6 hours. I did add a can of rinsed dark red beans during the last half hour. We served it over rice, topped with shredded sharp cheddar and sour cream and a square of cornbread on the side.

    • — Dana on February 9, 2017
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  • Haven’t made this yet, but the recipe prompted a question 🙂 I see recipes all the time that tell you to add (like this one) an ingredient like 1/4 t of cinnamon. My question is whether or not that tiny amount of spice is even noticeable in the final product. If you made the recipe with and without it and did a blind tasting, could anyone tell the difference? Just something I’ve always wondered 🙂

    • — John on February 9, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi John, Great question. Cinnamon is a strong spice that not everyone loves in savory dishes so I don’t use a lot. A little bit adds background warmth to the chili but you can’t really taste it as an individual flavor. I don’t think it would stand out in a blind tasting, but to me that’s a good thing. If you could identify it, that might mean it’s overpowering the other flavors. In general, I go for a balance of flavors with recipes like this. That said, one of my girlfriends made this dish and told me she doubled the cinnamon since she loves that flavor — so always feel free to adjust the spices to your liking. Maybe just wait to the end so that you can adjust to taste.

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2017
      • Reply
  • Disappointing. Sweet and no flavor

    • — Kathy on February 9, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy,

      Did you skip any steps ? I’ve made this chili many times but with all recipes, I have to follow them exactly or else they don’t turn out right. Then once I get it a few times, I make adjustments if I want to. For this recipe, I have no complaints , I think it’s really rich and flavorful, but I’ve decided to just buy a chili packet of spices and then add the cinnamon, and it comes out great. Hope you give it another try and good luck. 🙂
      – Jessica

      • — Jessica on November 30, 2017
      • Reply
  • I have a family member that cannot eat beans so I was thrilled to come across your recipe! Our son has been so hungry for chili and this recipe hit the spot. It is so flavorful and hearty and is good just the way it is. Also a side of pasta, cheese and onions gets along nicely with it too.

    • — Karen on February 8, 2017
    • Reply
  • Oh, Jenn! BEST CHILI EVER! Had company for Super bowl and this was FABULOUS! I made it the day before almost exactly as your recipe stated. I did not have coriander or Chipotle chili powder and since we like a mild chili it was perfect! I did add a can of black beans and a can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained. Super yummy! Adding the beans also stretches the servings to 8.
    Served it with the sides you suggested. It was a FEAST! I’ve tried at least 25 of your recipes and they are always excellent! For almost two years I check your recipes first and seldom stray. Thank you so much for all you do to create, adapt and share your kitchen creations. It’s totally revived my joy for cooking!

    • — Susan Young on February 8, 2017
    • Reply
  • I thought I had the best chili ever. Well, I don’t, Jenn does. It was a very big hit with my husband and friends. It’s a bit involved but, believe me, worth it. Had to buy molasses and smoked paprika and glad I did as it made a difference. Also, Jenn mentioned two different chili ingredients that I couldn’t find so I used regular chili. I also used the juice of almost a whole lime instead of a tablespoon. Great recipe Jenn. Thanks so much.

    • — Gen Cerefice on February 8, 2017
    • Reply
  • Can in use canned chipotle in adobo and make my own ancho chili sauce to add to the mixture? Also, fresh herbs? Not a huge fan of dry spices. I try to use fresh ingredients as much as I can.

    • — Alex on February 7, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Alex, You can use canned chipotle peppers in place of the chipotle chili powder and ancho chili powder, cilantro in place of coriander and fresh oregano instead of dried. You can omit the smoked paprika but you’ll need to use cumin – there’s no fresh sub for that. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2017
      • Reply
  • i made the chili yesterday for tonight’s dinner. It was soooo good!
    Hubbycommented that it was the best chili he ever had. I did add a can of black beans since we like them. Many thanks for this recipe!

    • — Susanna Alcaro Funk on February 7, 2017
    • Reply
  • Your recipe call for vegetable oil, but the picture of ingredients shows canola oil. Can either be used for this recipe?

    • — sv on February 6, 2017
    • Reply
    • Either is fine, SV. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on February 7, 2017
      • Reply
  • I made this for the Super Bowl and it was delicious. It was just a little sweet on the front end but had nice heat on the back end.

    • — Lynn on February 6, 2017
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  • This is the best chili I’ve ever made! The spice combination is fantastic! It has just the right amount of heat for my family’s tastes.

  • Are you sure about the carbohydrate count per serving?? I am on a low carb diet and this seemed like a great recipe, but then I saw the carb count and wondered where the carbs are coming from, the 2 tbs molasses? no the 2 tbs cornmeal, not really… please clarify if you can.

    • — Noelle Tatton on February 6, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Noelle, Because I’m not a nutritionist, I use an online tool to calculate the nutritional information for the blog. When I plugged in the ingredients for this recipe, those were the results. I agree that the carb count sounds a bit high, but I just double-checked it and am getting the same numbers. I assume the combination of the cornmeal, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and molasses all contribute to the number. Hope you enjoy the chili if you make it!

      • — Jenn on February 6, 2017
      • Reply
  • I made this for Super Bowl last night and it was fantastic! I made two small edits — I subbed half the beef broth for a bottle of beer and I added one can of beans. After browning the meat and veggies, I added everything to the crock pot and had it cook most of the day. Everyone loved it — it was rich and flavorful, and spicy but not too hot. I will definitely make again! One question — do you do the baking soda/ground beef trick every time you cook with ground beef – like meatballs, meatloaf, etc?

    • — Amy on February 6, 2017
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it, Amy — and I love your idea to use beer. I would only use this tenderizing technique for dishes similar to chili, like tacos, sloppy joes, etc. With meatballs and meatloaf, bread crumbs, eggs and cheese are added to tenderize.

      • — Jenn on February 6, 2017
      • Reply
  • I’ve tried the recipe yesterday and can highly recommend it! I followed it step by step and it was simply delicious!

    • — Gustavo Woltmann on February 5, 2017
    • Reply
  • My sweetie, who doesn’t usually like chili, LOVED this one! I used organic ground bison, and it was delish!

    • — Laura Sherrill on February 5, 2017
    • Reply
  • I note your food processor appears to be a Cuisinart with the blade that has been recalled. Hope you saw that notification as you can get a free replacement blade from them. The riveted ones can break apart apparently. Info on their website.

    • — Geoff on February 5, 2017
    • Reply
    • Thanks Geoff– I did hear about that recall- thanks for thinking of me!

      • — Jenn on February 5, 2017
      • Reply
    • Have the replacements begun yet? I’m also waiting for the new blade.

      • — June on March 16, 2017
      • Reply
  • I made this yesterday. Absolutely delicious. I didn’t change a thing. Once Upon a Chef is my go/to website now.

    • — Donna on February 4, 2017
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn- I just found your website & I’m planning meals for weeks thanks to you! My question is do you think I could do the chili in the crockpot after I tenderized the ground beef? I think it sounds amazing for anytime but a sure hit for Super Bowl. Thanks – Juli

    • — Juli on February 4, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Juli, Welcome to the site! I’d brown the meat and veggies on the stovetop first and then add everything to the crockpot. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2017
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, What’s the purpose of the cornmeal?
    I’m a big fan of your recipes 🙂

    • — Carmen on February 4, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Carmen, Thank you! The cornmeal thickens it up nicely and also adds flavor.

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2017
      • Reply
  • CAN YOU SUBSTITUTE PLAIN CHILI POWDER FOR THE ANCHO AND CHIPOTLE KIND? IF SO, WOULD THE AMOUNTS BE THE SAME?

    • — CHRISTI on February 4, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Christi, Yes, you can substitute regular chili powder for the ancho chili powder. The amount would be the same. Hope you enjoy the chili!

      • — Jenn on February 5, 2017
      • Reply
  • Is the cornmeal fine ground or medium? Thx.

    • — Vee on February 3, 2017
    • Reply
    • Either should be fine here, Vee. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 3, 2017
      • Reply
  • This recipe, as my husband says, is “a keeper.” I did add two cans of beans.

    • — bw on February 3, 2017
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious! A keeper! Thank you!

    • — Denise Aaron on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
  • I’m going to try this recipe this weekend. I’d rather not buy molasses just for this. Any suggested substitution?

    • — Brigitte on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Brigitte, Go ahead and leave it out; I’d just add another teaspoon or two of sugar, to taste.

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2017
      • Reply
  • No kidney beans???? I guess I could add them, right?

    • — Yvonne Quintin on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • Yep – I’d add them in for the last half hour.

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2017
      • Reply
  • Instead of cornmeal, could I grind up corn tortilla(s) in a food processor and use that?

    • — Kate on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • That should work, Kate.

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2017
      • Reply
  • Any thoughts for improving the caloric and fat intake on this recipe? a leaner ground beef? what are your thoughts on using ground buffalo.

    • — Lilian Dominkovics Dominkovics Lowe on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Lilian, A leaner beef or buffalo will work; the meat just won’t be quite as tender. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it that way.

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2017
      • Reply
  • Jenn, I am a big fan of your recipes! I only have a question. What do you think of adding the spices to the vegetables to “toast” them before adding the meat? Would it cause them to overcook? Thanks for your help!:)

    • — Valerie on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Valerie, I think that would be fine. Hope you enjoy it and please lmk how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2017
      • Reply
  • no beans?

    • — Darlene on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Darlene, My family prefers it without beans but feel free to add a can of drained beans for the last half hour of cooking.

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2017
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – This recipe looks interesting with such a variety of flavorful spices. I definitely plan to make this chili. Just curious as to what is the purpose of the baking soda? Thanks!

    • — Delada on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Delada, It tenderizes the beef — see the first paragraph of the post for more info 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2017
      • Reply
  • Your chili recipe looks intriguing, but the sodium level is way too high for me.

    • — Gail on February 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Gail, Feel free to use low sodium beef broth and reduce the salt.

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2017
      • Reply

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