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Halftime Chili

A bowl of chili topped with sour cream shredded cheddar and jalapeño slices beside a Dutch oven with more chili and open...
Photograph by Victoria Jane, Prop Styling by Alexandra Massillon, Food Styling by Mallory Lance
  • Active Time

    15 minutes

  • Total Time

    1 hour 35 minutes

Great chili recipes should meet a handful of requirements: They must be relatively forgiving, improve with slow cooking, and be welcoming to your favorite toppings. This easy recipe, which won a 2006 reader poll in honor of our 50th anniversary, meets all of those criteria.

Use canned beans and boxed stock to keep things extra simple, but look for low-sodium versions to keep the saltiness in check. For the meat, go with ground chuck, which is 80% lean ground beef and 20% fat. Other than that, this homemade chili recipe is flexible. Running low on one of the dried herbs? Use more of the others. Like a hint of smoke? Add chipotle chiles or some smoked paprika. Want more heat? Stir in a bit of cayenne pepper.

While many chili recipes call for slow cookers or Instant Pots, we prefer a stovetop. But if you’re serving it for a game day, that’s when any device with a “keep warm” setting comes into play. Make space on the table for a spread of chili toppings like sour cream and cheddar cheese; fresh veggies like diced tomatoes, bell peppers, and green onions; tortilla chips; and hot sauce. For a full weeknight meal, serve it with buttermilk cornbread or sweet potato wedges and a salad.

Ground beef chili not your thing? Find what you’re after with our recipes for ground turkey chili with white beans, stew beef chili with a homemade dried chile purée, or white chicken chili.


8–10 Servings


Tbsp. olive oil

cups chopped onion


large garlic cloves, chopped


pounds ground chuck


Tbsp. chili powder


Tbsp. ground cumin


tsp. dried basil


tsp. dried oregano


tsp. dried thyme


28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

cups (1 14½-ounce can) low-sodium chicken broth


12-ounce bottle beer


6-ounce can tomato paste


15- to 16-ounce can prepared chili beans

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add chuck and sauté until brown, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano and thyme. Stir 2 minutes. Mix in crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, beer and tomato paste. Simmer until thickened to desired consistency, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Mix in beans. Simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

    Do Ahead: Chili can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cool, then cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat before serving.

    Editor's note: This recipe was originally printed in our December 1995 issue. Head this way for more of our best Super Bowl recipes

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Reviews (922)

Back to TopTriangle
  • I've been making it for years--always a hit. I've started substituting beef broth for chicken broth, that really takes it to the next level. @ELODIEJMIRZA8093: Here in the U.S., "chili beans" are canned pinto beans that are packed in chili sauce instead of water. It looks like they are available in the U.K. but as the other reviewer noted, you can pretty much use any bean you have available. It looks like chili sauce is also available in the U.K. if you want to add perhaps 60 ml to other beans that aren't canned with sauce. The sauce isn't essential--I was making it for years with plain kidney beans, but the sauce in the chili beans definitely was an improvement.

    • Tubman

    • Maryland USA

    • 4/29/2022

  • ELODIEJMIRZA8093, this is a can of beans. I have no idea what " prepared Chili Beans" are, but I wouldn't worry about it. Many kinds of beans will serve, such as red kidney beans, small red beans (labelled as Central American beans in my grocery store), pinto beans (variegated white & red), and black beans. All of them are more or less in the same 'bean' family. The point is you take some kidney-shaped beans out of the can, drain, rinse, and pop into your pot of spicy simmering meat. You could probably use white beans or navy beans, but the chili will not have the traditional deep red color. I make this recipe with whichever beans I have in my cupboard. I omit the basil, throw in some adobo sauce and two bay leaves, and add a pinch of cinnamon to the browning beef. Major hit at my house.

    • Betty Rubble01730

    • Bedford, MA

    • 2/6/2022

  • I've been making this for years also. It's a very good recipe and readily allows all kinds of variations--for example, I might add some sausage, red or green peppers, a bit of chocolate, some Worcestershire sauce, etc. If you like it hot, add some siracha and/or jalapenos. As the photo shows, putting some cheese on top of it is very good!

    • Elizabeth

    • Raleigh, NC

    • 8/28/2021

  • I have been making this chili for years. Here are my alterations: I add 1/4 c. dark chocolate; guinness beer; 1T. worcestershire; plain dark kidney beans & a few shakes of cayenne. We serve over rice with cilantro

    • Laura

    • Princeton, NJ

    • 5/30/2021

  • Hi, I live in the UK, I'm not sure what exactly this is and what I can get locally to replace it: 1 15- to 16-ounce can prepared chili beans Thanks, E x

    • elodiejmirza8093

    • UK

    • 5/8/2020

  • Yummmmm

    • Anonymous

    • Savannah, Ga

    • 1/4/2020