Great Homemade Beef and Bean Chili Recipe

Texas Chili!

There are as many chili recipes as there are Texans. To say that this recipe is the world's best may be a little difficult to prove, but it's pretty darn good!

The secret to great chili is using the right ingredients and taking your time. You've got to let it bubble away for several hours to get the real experience.

I think another often overlooked secret to this dish is homemade chili powder. Store-bought chili powder is too aggressive, and I don't much care for the taste. Make your own by combing three spices, and see how much better your chili tastes!

Homemade Chili Powder:

  • 2 TBSP dried oregano
  • 2 TSBP ground cumin seed
  • 2 TBSP hot chile powder or flakes

That's it. Just mix it up and you've got a great homemade seasoning that's going to make a big difference in your next batch of chili.

I'm going to give a recipe for a Texan style chili. Now, a lot of Texans might say that true chili should never include beans, and I can't help but agree with them—but this is pretty good, and using black beans makes the recipe a whole lot healthier, not to mention a lot cheaper!

It may seem like this recipe has a lot of directions, but it's really quite simple, and most of what you see is my effort to explain the hows and whys of what you're doing as you prepare the dish.

Chili Recipe

This makes enough for a big family meal, with lots of leftovers!


  • 2 onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 5 green or red peppers (a mixture of the two works well)
  • 2 lbs of beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 10 big (or 15 medium or 20 small) tomatoes, all coarsely chopped up. (Use fresh tomatoes if they are in season and local tomatoes are flooding the market. Fresh tomatoes in season can't be beat! If they are not in season, you might be better off using a large can of tomatoes.)
  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups of cooked black beans (A common mistake is adding uncooked beans into the chili figuring that they'll cook in the chili liquid as it simmers. They will, but the acidity from the tomatoes will keep the beans kind of crunchy no matter how long you boil them for, and I think that the beans are better when they almost disappear into the mixture.)
  • Salt and sugar and dried chile powder or flakes to taste

1) Add a couple TBSP of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pot on medium heat.

2) Add the onions and peppers and sauté until slightly softened, for about ten minutes.

3) Add the chili powder and stir for about a minute. Then add the garlic and stir for an additional 30 seconds.

4) You don't want the garlic to start burning, so after the garlic is ready, immediately add in your chopped tomatoes.

5) Transfer everything out of the pot into another pot or bowl as you get the beef ready.

6) Now, add a couple more TBSP of oil to your saucepan on medium heat, sprinkle salt and pepper onto the beef, and add about half of it to the pot to brown.

This is one of the most critical steps on the road to great chili. You want to take your time and get that beef nice and brown all over. You want it brown, not just grey-cooked looking, as that deep brown gives a lot of beefy flavor to your chili. Keep the heat moderate and just keep at it. The rest of the chili cooking is effortless, so it's worth it to spend the time here. Repeat with the second half of the beef.

7) As long as the bottom of the pan has not burnt (By cooking at medium you should be fine. That crusty stuff on the bottom is like chili gold!) add all the stuff you just put into a second pot or bowl back into the cooking pot.

8) Add about a quart of water to the pot and set the heat down to low. You want to see the chili just barely simmering away. You want to get beef so tender that it literally just melts apart into the chili, and the secret to that is "low and slow!"

9) Every hour or so, check to see that there is enough water to just cover all the ingredients.

This chili recipe takes a while and you'll want to keep this simmering slowly away for about 6 hours, but there's really no effort required (and what's better than a Sunday afternoon spent watching football with the smell of your chili perfuming the house)?

10) After you've been simmering for about 4 hours, add the cooked beans into the chili, and keep that the pot trucking away for another couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

11) ou'll know it's done when it looks like real Texas chili! It should have a uniform mixture. You won't see bits of beef and bits of tomatoes and bits of beans. You'll just see your reddish brown masterpiece!

12) Now you're ready to season! Add about 2 tsp of salt, black pepper, and as much extra chile as you'd like. Keep tasting it and adding more salt until it tastes like it should. You can also add a TBSP or two of sugar if you think it's too sour.

If you think it needs more of a chili kick, add more chili powder by the tsp until it's where you like it.

Great chili is all about harmony and balance. You want a perfect union of flavors, so nothing should be too dominant. This chili recipe is a great basic chili, and once you make it once, it might become your family's new favorite!

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Comments 50 comments

Barb Lee 9 years ago

I like the idea of making my own chile powder.

Melissa Ray Davis profile image

Melissa Ray Davis 9 years ago from Swannanoa, NC

Ooh. I like your tip on homemade chili powder. We'll have to try that next time we make chili. Thanks!

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 9 years ago Author

I think that you'll really notice an improvement by making your own. I think that store bought chili powder is too aggressive, and never seems to blend in well with the overall tastes of the chilli.

Good luck, and thanks for the comment,


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 9 years ago from Around the USA

Sounds like a fantastic chili recipe, and thanks for the homemade chili powder.

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 9 years ago Author

Thanks Angela...and since by my calender the first week of the NFL equates to chilli season, it's time to start thinking about it once again!!!

Jeremy Lauderdale 8 years ago

I made your chili yesterday and I love it! It took me about ten hours to cook but it came out great! I would suggest using more meat (maybe one or two more pounds) and more chili powder. I also added 1lb. of Italian sausage. I also added a dash of cinnamon and some choped green onions and about two cups instead of one of the black beans. My batch came out a little more liquidy than I normally like my chili. This a great recipe and I give it a 10. Thank you!

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 8 years ago Author

Hey thanks Jeremy,

Good ideas for the modifications... always fun to perfect that chili recipe!

trakker14 profile image

trakker14 8 years ago from franklin

Oh my gosh was this chili great, all my guests thought it was supurb!!! I wont alter a thing..Thanks again

Barb Lee 8 years ago

Thanks John for the information on cooking the beans. I was wondering why my dried kidney beans never seem to soften in the chile. I'll try cooking them fully before I made the chile. Chile is perfect with cool fall weather!

Sue 8 years ago

This recipe sounds great, I am making it today. I have my beans soaking now, but am using a mixture of kidney, black and pinto beans. We like the beans in our chile. I wrote down your recipe for the chile powder and will try it. This is the first recipe I looked at for Homemade Chile from Scratch, made with dried beans, and I am done looking. Thanks!

Evan 7 years ago

I am making chile right now and used your recipe for the chile powder. For Jeremy's comment I have added tomatoe paste close to the end to help thicken the chile up. I know that kinda takes away from the whole scratch thing but it works for me and it doesn't seem to altar the taste. Good Luck

trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago

Sounds like another winner! I've bookmarked this page, it sounds absolutely yummy.

Thanks for sharing!

Die'Dre' profile image

Die'Dre' 7 years ago from The Great Pacific Northwest

I had a friend who was married to a Navy Lt. He had a Texas chili recipe, and this sounds a lot like it. He always had three meats in his. Looks like a perfect recipe for a cold winter night.

rambo87 profile image

rambo87 7 years ago

Sounds like a great recipe, definitely going to try this, nothing better than a nice big bowl of chilli!

jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma

I love chili. Thanks for the great recipe. Once in a while I will had some cinnamon, chocolate or peanut butter for a change. Most people really like and comment on the cinnamon.

Ashley Joy profile image

Ashley Joy 7 years ago

Chili is such a wonderful comfort food. The best thing is that you can personalize it to your tastes.

Monica 7 years ago

Do you think that this recipe would taste the same if I use pinto beans instead of black beans?????I made pinto beans and i am going to try it and let everyone know if its good or not.

California_Dreamin 7 years ago

This chili sounds great, I'll have to give it a try some time. Black beans instead of kidney beans sounds like a good idea, though recently I've been making my chili Texas style--with no beans.

stuart747 profile image

stuart747 7 years ago from Colchester, Essex, UK

sounds tasty, thank you for sharing, I will give it a try

manlypoetryman profile image

manlypoetryman 7 years ago from (Texas !) Boldly Writing Poems Where No Man Has Gone Before...

Loving this chili recipe (good touch with the black beans...I usually use kidney beans)...Although it made me very hungry while reading it!

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 6 years ago Author

Kidney beans will work too - I just happen to prefer the flavor of black beans. Hope you get a chance to try it out soon!

La donna 6 years ago

I made some chilli but it tastes blah what's wrong

deb 6 years ago

I am not a fan of chili powder either, I like the idea of homemade or, even better, why not try using fresh chili peppers. I haven't tried this but I am about to. I figure you could use different hot peppers depending on what flavour you like or how hot you like it.

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 6 years ago Author

Hi deb,

I sometimes use a mixture of fresh and dried chili peppers in the chili, but there is no real substitute, in my opinion, for at least some dried chili powder - it has a taste that isn't replicated by fresh chilies. Of course, that's only my opinion, try it for yourself and see!

Augusto 6 years ago

Awsome chili! I just enjoyed one bowl of the best chili ever. Hey thanks John Lee for sharing your recipe.

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 6 years ago Author

You are welcome Augusto! Glad to hear you enjoyed the chili.

Tanya 6 years ago

Great Chili! My family loved every bowl. Making my 2nd pot right now.

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 6 years ago Author

Thank you for letting me know about your chili success Tanya!

raven 6 years ago

i do the same but i add corn lol

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Hubby will love this!

Don 6 years ago

I stumbled upon this recipe and absolutely loved it! added two pounds of ground beef around the same time as the beans, and i also added some corn, and at the start, when i added the water , i also added a 1/2 cup molasses.

Absolutely fabulous!

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 6 years ago Author

Hi Don - your chili sounds great - thanks for the comment!

Eddy Browning 6 years ago

I enjoyed your blog especially the good tip on chili powder. I'm going to try it tonight in fact. Hope you and yours have a great 4th of July Celebration!

Angel Esperanueva 6 years ago

Thanks for the recipe. Made it yesterday and it came out fantastic. I used pinto beans cooked in ham hocks to give it a hint of smoke. It came out great!

John D Lee profile image

John D Lee 6 years ago Author

That's great Angel - your version sounds tasty!

falada 5 years ago

Fantastic fart medicine!

texan 5 years ago

made this chili for a chili cook-off and won. cooked chili during day, put it in refrigerator overnight and then reheated in crock pot the next day. on second day, added two additional tablespoons chili powder and one tablespoon black pepper. also, I didn't use the recommended quart of water since there was so much water from the 7 pounds of tomatoes I used. thanks for the great recipe and instructions!

loves2cook profile image

loves2cook 5 years ago from Portland, OR

This version looks delicious, thanks! Very entertaining to read as well.

Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

I have never made chili this way, though I love chili and I do make it. Gotta try this recipe...worthy of being cooked on Diners,Drive-ins and Dives!

GrantGMcgowan profile image

GrantGMcgowan 5 years ago

THanks for the recipe, I love it.

amber 5 years ago

Omg. Yes this recipe awesome ty so much!!

Elena Dmitrieva 5 years ago

I love your recipe. I used minced meat, because I couldn't cook chili for so many hours as in the recipe. I'm sure it'd taste even better if I cooked it longer than I did. Anyway the result is fantastic. All my ingredients were organic. Thank you for inhancing comments. I'll keep them in mind in my cooking.

Frank (the big hurt) Thomas 5 years ago

This chili made my girlfriend's farts intolerable.

Diana 5 years ago

Thank you for sharing your recipe, I've never made chili completely from scratch. I cooked the beans overnight, kidney, pinto, and pink beans. Almost 4 cups - knowing that I would be removing a third for the vegetarian batch.

My "beef batch" just had the beans added,and should be ready in two hours. The vegetarian version has been finished for a couple of hours, and everyone keeps snitching at my daughter's dinner.

My chili powder version was red pepper flakes, ground cumin and cumin seeds (to equal 2 tbls), and dried oregano, and a grind or two of chipotle pepper.

Very good flavor

EvaThomas30 4 years ago from Washington

This recipe sounds great. I have my beans soaking right now so I can make it tomorrow. Some people mentioned adding cinnamon to their chili. I don't think I'd do that but I do know that a good combination is; cinnamon rolls (preferably homemade) and chili. Try it some time. It might sound strange but it's amazing. Or as a quick sub you can make cinnamon toast. Yum!

tom stephenson 4 years ago

How long will Texas Chili keep unfrozen in the fridge?

DESIREE 4 years ago

Wow... I'am soo glad I found this recipe. Finally, a recipe that uses fresh tomatoes :-) Thanks for taking the time in sharing your receipe to us. This was one of the best dishes I've ever made.

Tryshia 4 years ago

ok im only 16 and this recipe was so easy for me to make and my family loved it when they came home from work thank you so much

vtop 4 years ago

From Australia. Huge Texas taste recipe. Thanks for the effort of getting it out there. Looking forward to cooking this for six hours and into it with fried polenta. Many thanks.

2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

I've always used minced beef to make chili. I think it would be better as you suggest - thanks for an interesting recipe.

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