My stovetop ground beef and bean chili is thick and rich, perfect for a cold day and easy enough to make on a weeknight! Add some beer for complexity, used dried chiles and fresh instead of ground, and switch to a mix of beef and pork for balance. Get some tortilla chips for scooping, because it’s time to make chili!
Hello, all! I’m here on a gorgeous, sunny fall day wishing I had a bowl of chili in front of me right now! But, even though I don’t, I’m going to enjoy this day since we’ve been having so much rain lately. Ugh.
And, I have a dinner party to look forward to tonight! Not mine, so I don’t have to do the work. 😉 We live on a small street, tiny even, so sometimes we have street dinner parties and a neighbor down the road is hosting this one. Should be fun and I know I’m going to have some great food!
But, back to the chili.
I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for decades now. Really. Decades. Then finally last year I decided to write down what I was doing and spend some time thinking about how to improve it and go from and really good chili to a really awesome chili. I wanted the best chili I could make while still keeping it to an easy, weeknight meal.
I think I’ve succeeded and I hope you do too!
Oh, btw, an observant reader might have noticed that is not cilantro in the photos, but parsley. There are two reasons for this. One, I live with a cilantro hater (it tastes like soap to him) so I simply don’t buy or cook with cilantro. And, two, while I would have sprung for some for the photos (and mixed it happily into my bowl of chili), it looked terrible at the store that day. Better fresh parsley than wilted cilantro!
How do you make ground beef and bean chili?
To make ground beef and bean chili, saute the meat with the onions, then add a bottle of beer along with the beans and some fresh jalapenos. Puree tomatoes and dried chiles together, pour them into the pot, and simmer until the flavors come together.
- Soften the dried chiles with hot water.
- Saute the onion and garlic until soft.
- Add the ground beef and pork.
- Add the diced jalapenos, beans, and beer and simmer.
- Puree the dried chiles with their water and the tomatoes.
- Pour in the tomato mixture and simmer until done.
- Top with ALL the toppings!
The first thing you are going to want to do for this chili is to heat up some water and then pour it over the dried chiles. Getting them all soft and ready to be pureed into the pot is going to take at least 20 minutes and they can be doing their thing while you are chopping and sauteing.
Tip: You’ll want to use a mix of chiles to hit all the flavor notes, from fruity to smoky to spicy. If you want you can prep them in big batches ahead of time and freeze the puree for any recipe which needs a little heat.
Once I have the chiles hanging out in hot water, I get all the chopping done. So chop up the onion, garlic, and jalapenos.
Then heat up some oil in your pot, add the onion, garlic, and a sprinkle of kosher salt, and saute until soft. Add the ground beef, or ground beef and ground pork, and cook until no longer pink. Add some cumin and oregano along with the jalapenos. Finally, add the beans and warm them up.
Now add the beer and let it come to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes.
Tip: Use a full-bodied beer which isn’t too bitter. Something like a brown ale or a lager or an Oktoberfest is perfect. Stay away from IPAs in the chili.
While it’s simmering, puree the chiles and the tomatoes in your blender. Then pour the mixture into your pot and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook for about 30 minutes, or until the chili is nice and thick and flavors have all come together.
As your chili is simmering down, you can make all the toppings. We love ALL the toppings, so feel free to pick and choose among the ones I use to your own tastes. For toppings we like: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh sliced or chopped jalapenos (for that sharper heat hit), chopped red onions or scallions, avocados, lime juice, fresh herbs, and tortilla chips.
If you like heat, I would definitely recommend the fresh jalapenos (or other hot pepper of your choice) since the heat of the dried chiles and jalapenos can mellow out during cooking more than you expect. And adding some hot peppers to your own bowl makes this chili more friendly to the whole family, including those who don’t like heat. (We keep the heat of the chili moderate and then add spice to our own tastes.)
Also, you need to add some lime juice just before serving! The hit of acid right at the end elevates the chili and brings out the flavors.
What goes with chili?
As dinner for the family chili + toppings is all you need, but what about when you’re having a party or serving a crowd? What do you serve with the homemade chili?
There are a lot of choices!
And, if you want biscuits, you can’t go wrong with my zucchini cheddar biscuits. Yum!
If you look at the recipe, you can see the exact moment I started eating lunch. 🙂 In the first photos I took, the spoon was next to the bowl. Then it was in the bowl. And then I couldn’t wait any longer, tortillas were crumbled, and I had a few bites. Once the camera was down, that bowl was gone!
I will confess though, since I am a spice wimp, I did take out those sliced jalapenos and chop them up small before I really got into eating my lunch.
If you try my recipe for Ground Beef and Bean Chili, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Rich and Meaty Ground Beef and Bean Chili
- 4-5 dried chiles, see notes
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- kosher salt
- 1 lb ground beef, or half beef and half pork
- 2 jalapenos, chopped and seeds removed if you wish
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 15-oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 bottle beer, such as an Oktoberfest or a lager
- 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
- 1 lime
- toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar, avocado, diced jalapenos, diced onion, lime wedges, tortilla chips
- Stem the dried chiles and remove their seeds if you wish. Pour over the hot water and let them sit and soften for 20 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic, and salt. Saute over low heat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ground beef (and pork if using). Cook until no longer pink.
- Add the jalapenos, cumin, and oregano. Cook for 1 minute. Add the beans.
- Pour in the beer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Puree the dried chiles with their water and the can of tomatoes in the blender until smooth.
- Pour the chile-tomato puree into the pot. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes, adding some water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. (Chili can be made 2-3 days ahead. Add a little more water to the chili and heat it back up to a simmer.)
- Just before serving, squeeze the juice of one lime into the chili and stir. Serve with the toppings of your choice.
- Dried Chiles: There a number of different types of dried chiles you can use to get the flavor and spiciness you want. To add fruity notes, use ancho or pasilla. For sweetness, get a New Mexico or California chile. To give it smokiness along with some heat, use a chipotle. And for more heat, you might want to try an arbol or pequin.
- The Dried Chili Mix I Use: I'm going for a moderate heat so I use one ancho, two New Mexico, and one chipotle. I skip the arbol and use fresh jalapenos for the heat since I find that a little easier to adjust to our taste.
- Optional Additions: Sometimes I like to add a little anchovy paste as I saute the meat or a little dark chocolate when I'm simmering the chili. The anchovy adds umami and bumps up the meatiness, while the chocolate gives it some added complexity.
- Doubling: The chili can easily be doubled for a crowd.
- Gluten-Free: For gluten-free chili, use a gluten-free beer.