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Classic Beef Chili

This recipe combines ground beef with tomatoes, kidney beans and pinto beans for a classic version of soup. I always serve it topped with sour cream, Cheddar cheese, avocado, jalapeños and with a side of either Fritos for dipping or chunks of warmed cornbread.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword beans, beef, cheddar, chili, ground beef, kidney beans, soup, tomato
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings 10


For the classic beef chili

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup dark beer, like a stout
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

For Serving

  • Sour cream, as needed
  • Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, as needed
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • Fritos®, as needed


For the classic beef chili

  • Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Toss the ground beef in the baking soda then add the beef to the pot.
  • Sauté until the meat is evenly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft, about 6 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes with their liquid and the beans to the pot, stirring to combine. Stir in the Worcestershire, chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, thyme, beer and 1 cup of water.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 2 hours.

For serving:

  • Ladle the chili into warmed bowls, and top with a dollop of sour cream, Cheddar cheese, green onion, avocado and Fritos®.