Easy Busy Day Chili

Chili with cornbread
Bowl of Chili. Photo: Diana Rattray
  • 2 hrs 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 6 Servings
Ratings (22)

This easy busy day chili is made with lean ground beef and ingredients you probably have on hand. Garlic, onion, cumin, and chili powder are the flavor ingredients, and small red beans and tomatoes add substance and color.

This chili can also be made with canned black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans. If you prefer a chili without beans, add more ground beef and a small amount of water broth, if needed. The chili may be made with ground turkey as well.

The recipe is easily doubled for a big meal or tailgating party. Put it in a slow cooker and take it along to a potluck or party. Set the slow cooker on low for serving.

If you need an easy, hearty meal for a fall or winter day, this chili recipe is an excellent choice. This chili makes a great meal with a simple tossed salad and​ cornbread or biscuits. Or serve the chili with this easy cheesy Mexican cornbread.

See the tips and variations for some substitutions, suggestions for additional ingredients, and serving ideas.

What You'll Need

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove
  • garlic, minced
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes, (28 ounces)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) small red beans, with liquid
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons
  • chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

How to Make It

Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch Oven or large saucepan over medium heat; brown the ground beef with the onions. Add the garlic to the beef mixture and continue cooking for a minute or two. Drain off excess fat.

Add the tomatoes, beans with liquid, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve the chili with freshly baked cornbread and a tossed salad. The chili is delicious with rice as well.

Serves 6.

Tips and Variations

  • To thicken the chili, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to the chili.
  • Add about 1 tablespoon of minced jalapeno pepper to the chili, or a small can of mild chopped green chile peppers.
  • Saute about 1/2 cup of diced green or red bell pepper along with the ground beef and onions. 
  • Saute a shredded carrot to the ground beef and onion mixture. It's a great way to get an extra vegetable into the kids, and it adds some subtle natural sweetness.
  • Top servings of the chili with sliced green onions, shredded cheddar jack or pepper jack cheese, pickled jalapeno rings, or a dollop of sour cream.

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