Not that you need an excuse, but it’s National Chili Day! So you should probably consider having a bowl. Making chili can be as easy as dumping some cans into a pot to simmer unwatched or as complex as creating your own spice blend and ingredient mix. Any way you want to tackle this all-American meal, we have you covered. Follow the step-by-step recipe below from The Kitchn, which can be customized in hundreds of different ways to your personal tastes.
Makes 8-10 servings
1 – 1 1/2 pounds ground meat or chuck roast (beef, buffalo, turkey or other) or vegetarian protein (tofu, Boca crumbles, or other) — slice roasts into cubes
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1-2 other vegetables (like celery, carrots or zucchini), diced (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Seasonings (choose 2-3): 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 tablespoon ground chipotle peppers, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 cup amber or brown ale or red wine
3 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups (2 16-oz cans) cooked black beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (optional)
To serve: Shredded cheese, sour cream, diced avocados, chopped scallions, hot sauce, chopped cilantro
Step 1: Brown the meat.
If using meat, warm a teaspoon of oil in a large heavy Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat and brown the meat. Break up ground meat as it browns, leaving pieces as large or small as you like them. If you’re using chuck roast, make sure all sides of the beef cubes are seared dark brown. Transfer the browned meat from the pot to a clean dish. *If you’re making a vegetarian chili with tofu or other protein, add it along with the beans in Step 6. Reduce the amount of stock and the cooking time by half.
Step 2: Cook the vegetables.
In the same pot used to brown the meat, warm a tablespoon of oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the other vegetables and continue to cook until softened, another 5-8 minutes. Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add the garlic. Cook the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then stir into the vegetables. It’s normal for a dark sticky crust to start forming on the bottom of the pan.
Step 3: Add the seasonings.
Add the seasonings and 2 teaspoons of salt to the pan. Stir until the vegetables are coated and the spices are fragrant, another 30 seconds.
Step 4: Deglaze the pan.
Pour the beer or wine into the hot pan. Scrape up the dark sticky crust as the liquid bubbles. Continue scraping and stirring until the beer or wine has almost evaporated.
Step 5: Add the broth and simmer.
Add the browned meat back into the pan. Pour in the broth. Bring the chili to a simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender (cubes of chuck roast may take a bit longer). The chili will still look soupy.
Step 6: Add the tomatoes and beans to the chili.
Add the tomatoes, beans, corn (if using), and vegetarian protein (if using) to the pot. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and add more seasonings or salt to taste.
Step 7: Serve with garnishes.
Chili is often best the day after it’s been cooked. It will also keep for up to a week and freezes well for up to three months. Serve with cheese and other garnishes.
Once you have the basic recipe down, you can customize your bowl in hundreds of different ways. Here are some more ingredient ideas and offbeat recipes.
More Ingredient Options
Base: Onions and garlic
Meats: Ground or chopped: beef, turkey, chicken, pork, lamb, veal, bacon, chorizo, sausage
Beans: Kidney, cannellini, chickpea, pinto, black
Vegetables: Corn, carrots, bell peppers, celery, carrots, zucchini
Sauce: Crushed tomatoes
Dried Spices: Chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, coriander
Fresh Chiles: Jalapeno, habanero, serrano
Liquid: Beer, wine, chicken or vegetable broth
Toppings: Cheese: shredded cheddar, jack, mixed, feta, blue; Fritos, crushed tortilla chips, avocado/guacamole, sour cream/crème fraiche/queso fresco, chopped scallions, cilantro, chopped jalapeno pepper
Accompaniments: Rice, corn bread, grits, polenta