The Best Chili Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. + standing Cook: 1 hour 20 min.
Take your chili game up a notch with this recipe from Taste of Home’s Culinary Director, Sarah Farmer. She'll show you how to make chili like the pros.

Updated: Feb. 16, 2024

Nothing quite says cold weather like a big bowl of hot, hearty chili. This classic dish is the perfect pick-me-up during Sunday football games, after a day of raking leaves or on crisp, chilly nights.

Here at Taste of Home, we know that there are many delicious methods for making chili. Your favorite recipe may be a vegan or vegetarian chili, a three-bean chili or the famous Cincinnati chili—the possibilities are endless! But if you’re looking for a classic beef chili recipe, you’re in the right place.

What is chili, actually?

Best Ever Chili Recipe
Well, it depends whom you ask. Chili is a regional food with a lot of variations. But most people would agree that chili is a thick, hearty soup made with some combination of meat and/or beans, spices and vegetables. We asked our executive culinary director, Sarah Farmer, to come up with the best-ever chili recipe. And boy, did she deliver.

This hearty chili has it all: chunky texture, complex flavor profiles and a spicy kick. We’ll show you how to make chili like the pros, plus share Sarah’s secret tips for success.

Chili Ingredients

  • Dried ancho chiles peppers or guajillo chilies
  • Boiling water
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic cloves
  • Chili powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground beef
  • Montreal steak seasoning (buy or make your own)
  • Beef tri-tip roast
  • Salt
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • Canola oil
  • Onion, chopped
  • Poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Dried oregano
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Beef stock
  • Beer—any kind, from stout to lager
  • Fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • Kidney beans, drained
  • Masa harina corn flour


Step 1: Kick up the spice

Start by placing the ancho or guajillo chilies in a deep skillet. Cover them with boiling water and let stand for about 15 minutes or until the chilies have softened. Drain the soaking liquid, being careful to reserve 1/3 of a cup. Discard any stems and seeds, then toss the soaked chilies, tomato paste, garlic and reserved soaking liquid into a food processor. Blend until smooth and set aside.

Test Kitchen Tip: A lot of chili recipes fall flat when it comes to spice and seasoning. They either rely too heavily on the basics (like salt, pepper and chili powder) or go way overboard on the spicy stuff. For this recipe, Sarah recommends using ancho chilies. These chilies are dried poblano peppers, and they have a mild, sweet flavor. When used in conjunction with fresh poblanos, the dish gets extra depth.

Step 2: Boost the chili flavor

In a small skillet, toast the chili powder, paprika and cumin over medium heat until aromatic, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the spices and set them aside. Then, in a Dutch oven, cook and stir the ground beef and the Montreal steak seasoning over medium-high heat until the beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove beef and drain away any fat.

Test Kitchen Tip: Montreal steak seasoning is a delicious flavor booster. It’s a handy seasoning to stock in your pantry, but it’s also easy to make your own. In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons each of kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper, and 2 teaspoons each of onion powder, dried minced garlic, paprika, crushed coriander seeds and crushed red pepper flakes. Store in an airtight container.

Step 3: Make it thick

Next, sprinkle the steak cubes with 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper. In a Dutch oven, brown beef in 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Work in batches until all of the beef has been browned, then remove it from the Dutch oven and set aside. Saute the onion and poblano pepper in the remaining oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in toasted spices, oregano and pepper flakes. Add the cooked meats along with stock, beer, tomatoes, beans, remaining salt and pepper, and the reserved chili paste mixture. Cook over medium heat 20 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Stir in masa and simmer 30 to 45 minutes longer.

Test Kitchen Tip: Masa harina, which literally means “dough flour,” is flour made from dried corn. Stirred in at the end of cooking, it helps thicken the chili and adds a subtle corn flavor. Find it at most grocers or online.

Step 4: Top off the chili

One of the best parts of chili is topping it with all of your favorite fixings. Set out a combination of fresh ingredients, like diced tomatoes, red onion and jalapenos; crunchy toppers, like tortilla strips, corn chips or French-fried onions; and creamy mix-ins, like shredded cheese, sour cream and American cheese slices.

Chili Variations

Not in the mood for beef? Try one of these other chili variations:

  • White chicken chili: This chili variety relies on chicken, white beans and oftentimes dairy mix-ins (such as cream cheese or milk) for its light hue. Find our best white chicken chili recipes here.
  • Turkey chili: Lighten up your meal with lean ground turkey instead of beef like we do in this best-ever turkey chili recipe.
  • Vegetarian chili: Skip the meat altogether and bulk up the chili with beans, veggies and rice.

Chili Recipe Tips

Can you freeze chili?

Yes! Once cooked chili has cooled, divide it into freezer-safe containers labeled with the date. To reheat, let chili thaw in the fridge overnight, then place in a saucepan and simmer until heated through. You can add a little broth or water if necessary. Chili will stay fresh in the freezer for four to six months.

Can you make chili ahead of time?

While this chili is fantastic right out of the pot, as with a lot of soups, stews and other chilis, it tastes even better the next day. For a smart make-ahead option, double the batch and freeze the leftovers in individual portions. They’ll keep for at least six months.

What goes well with chili?

While chili is a hearty meal on its own, there are plenty of toppings and side dishes that can take it to the next level. We love topping chili with cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, tortilla chips, jalapeno or avocado. On the side, serve up some cornbread, crackers or a simple garden salad.

The Best Chili

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 20 min
Yield 8 servings (3-1/2 qt.).


  • 3 dried ancho or guajillo chiles
  • 1 to 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning
  • 2 pounds beef tri-tip roast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each ) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, drained
  • 3 tablespoons masa harina
  • Optional: American cheese slices, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, diced red onion, sliced jalapenos, cilantro and corn chips


  1. Combine chiles and enough boiling water to cover; let stand until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the soaking liquid. Discard stems and seeds. Process chiles, tomato paste, garlic and reserved liquid until smooth.
  2. In a small skillet, toast chili powder, paprika and cumin over medium heat until aromatic, 3-4 minutes; remove and set aside. In a Dutch oven, cook and stir ground beef and steak seasoning over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes; remove and drain.
  3. Sprinkle steak cubes with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. In same Dutch oven, brown beef in batches in 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat; remove and set aside. Saute onion and poblano pepper in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in toasted spices, oregano and pepper flakes. Add the cooked meats along with stock, beer, tomatoes, beans, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and chile paste mixture. Cook over medium heat 20 minutes; reduce heat to low. Stir in masa harina and simmer 30-45 minutes longer. Serve with desired toppings.

Nutrition Facts

1-3/4 cups: 473 calories, 20g fat (6g saturated fat), 103mg cholesterol, 1554mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 7g fiber), 41g protein.

My dad and father-in-law are the gurus in our chili-loving clan. But after my honeymoon to New Mexico, where I was inspired by the fresh and fragrant chile peppers at the Santa Fe farmers market, I felt it was time to introduce them to my spicy, meaty version with a touch of masa harina, dubbed the best chili recipe. —Sarah Farmer, Taste of Home Culinary Director