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This is the best classic chili. It’s thick, rich, loaded with tomato flavor, lots of beef, and plenty of beans. It’s sweet, warm, spicy (in flavor not heat), and so perfect with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.
With so many different chili variations out there it’s always nice to have a classic, simple, perfect recipe for plain ol’ chili. I hesitate saying ‘plain’ because this classic chili is anything but. Full of beef & beans that simmers for hours (stove top or slow cooker) in a super flavorful, rich, hearty tomato sauce.
There is nothing better than making this classic chili on a cold day and letting it simmer away on the stove top. It’s so warm and comforting. This is not one of those chili recipes that you can make and expect to have it on the diner table in 30 minutes. It needs a couple hours to simmer.
If you’d rather, it can also be kept on the low setting in the slow cooker too. Although, I love using the stove top for this recipe because the slow cooker can mute some of the flavors. But with the stove top they all just come together and create this amazingly thick, rich, and flavorful chili.
I’ve contributed my fair share of chili variations: white bean turkey chili, santa fe chili, and texas taco chili are some of my faves.
But this classic chili is by far my favorite. Nothing crazy and fancy about it. Just tons of flavor and comfort in a bowl. And please, whatever you do, do not skip the garnishes on top! I always just serve this with sour cream and cheese. I think it’s all you need for this.
Don’t let the ketchup scare you. It adds a sweetness and thickness that you couldn’t get with anything else. This coming from a ketchup hater. Yes, me. The smell, the weird red color, the texture….. it all terrifies me. But, I use it in this chili and love it.
I hope you love this one like we do. Try it with this buttermilk cornbread. Trust me, it will be the Best. Meal. Ever!
(the best!) Classic Chili
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cans (29 oz each) pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 bottle (46 oz) tomato juice
- 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- In a large skillet pan over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef with the onion and salt until no longer pink and cooked through. Drain grease and set aside.
- In a large pot combine the remaining ingredients, sir together. Add in the cooked meat, stir again.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, while stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer, partially covered with a lid, for at least 2 hours (or up to 4). Stir every so often.
- Serve with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.
- To make in the crock pot: Brown ground beef according to instructions above. Combine the remaining ingredients in the crock pot, add in the cooked meat and stir together. Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours.
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Yummy! I love a good bowl of classic chili. I enjoy trying all of the others, but something straight forward like this is always one of my favorites!
Chili with Buttermilk Cornbread! Does it get any better than that on a rainy fall afternoon? Can’t wait for football/chili season!
Hi Deb! Chili + cornbread +fall is pretty much my idea of perfection! I’m excited for chili season, but most importantly football. We’re big fans in this house. Thanks for stopping by.
Can you add a can of petite diced tomatoes?
Yes you can. Enjoy!
I don’t have a large pot so can I cut everything in half to make a smaller batch?
I can not wait to try this! I’ve searched for a great chili recipe for me years, one that didn’t require hours to prepare. Got here from pantry chili recipe that is also on my “try this” list.
Making this tonight with diced bell peppers. Sautés them in olive oil, then added the meat and onion. The house smells amazing! Can’t wait until dinner time!