Beef Chili

White bowl of beef chili with grated cheese, tortilla chips, and lime wedges on wood

Different chili recipes present a wide variety of regional personalities and variations, not to mention favorites: Do you like it with or without beans? Chopped meat or ground meat? Whole chiles or mixed chile powder, or both? This recipe will appeal to just about everyone. Whether it’s the Super Bowl, game night, or just a plain Tuesday dinner, it can be dressed up and down for the occasion. Always serve it with some combination of toppings, such as grated cheese, sour cream, sliced avocados, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion or scallions, or minced cilantro. Garnish with tortilla chips or crumbled corn bread.–Lucinda Scala Quinn

LC As You Like It Note

Those toppings the author mentions above? Lovely. But do yourself and your friends and family a favor and set them out in an array of bowls so folks can help themselves. And if it’s one of those weeks where you need to streeeeetch the grocery money ’till the next paycheck arrives, just ladle a little chili over a some cooked rice, a baked potato, even a plate of pasta and go easy on the cheese. No one will even notice.

Beef Chili Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 20 M
  • Serves 6


  • 5 dried red chiles (Mexican ancho, New Mexican Hatch, or Anaheim)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup pickled or fresh jalapeños, finely chopped (optional)
  • One 28-ounce can tomatoes, broken up, with their juice
  • 12 ounces beer
  • One 15-ounce can beans (pinto, kidney, black or a combination), drained


  • 1. In a dry large skillet over high heat, lightly toast both sides of the chiles for a few minutes. After roasting, remove the chiles from the pan and slice them open, then remove and discard the stem and seeds. Place the chiles in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Let soften for 5 minutes. Purée the chiles in a blender or food processor, adding just enough of the soaking liquid to form a thick paste.
  • 2. Heat the skillet again over medium-high heat, and then add the olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat and add the beef and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Brown the beef, stirring occasionally to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 15 minutes. If the meat seems excessively fatty (your judgment call), spoon off some of the fat, but leave some for flavor.
  • 3. Stir in the cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chile paste, red pepper flakes, oregano, bay leaf, jalapeños, and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine.
  • 4. Add the tomatoes and beer and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the beans and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add water, if needed, for desired consistency. Serve with preferred condiments (see headnote).
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Recipe Testers Reviews

I liked that this chili had all the makings of a great, hearty meal: beef, beans, beer, and dried chiles. For the beer, I used a domestic IPA (India Pale Ale), so I’m not sure if changing the style of beer really matters. I bought coarse-grind beef chuck and really liked the texture once it cooked. I also used canned white beans for this test and I toasted Ancho and New Mexico chiles. Next time, though, I’d try using black beans, and I think I’d cook the chile paste made in step 1 to deepen the flavors, as this technique is quite popular and common in Mexican cooking. My toppings included shredded white Cheddar cheese, chunks of avocado, and a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt.


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