This chili con carne is the best homemade chili recipe you’ll find! Brown chunks of beef in bacon fat, then add kidney beans, onion, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeños, chili powder, and ground chipotles. Top with grated cheddar and a squeeze of lime.
It seems as if there are as many ways to prepare chili as there are cooks who make chili!
Ground beef versus chunks, pork versus beef, pinto versus kidney beans, beans versus no beans, red chili or green chili—the combinations, as the preferences for them, are endless.
Ingredients in this Homemade Chili Recipe
A few notes on this recipe. We use chuck roast because it holds up the best to long stewing. The meat and onions are cooked in bacon fat which contributes to the flavor.
We include kidney beans because we like kidney beans, but you can substitute other beans or leave them out entirely. You can also make your beans from scratch on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker. A little sugar is used to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and lime juice.
The “secret sauce” so to speak of this recipe is the addition of chipotle chili powder, made from smoke-dried jalapeño peppers. Chipotle adds a smokey dimension to the chili, enhancing all of the other flavors.
If you can’t find chipotle powder, Tabasco makes a chipotle pepper sauce that can be used to add some smokey flavor to the stew. Everyone has their favorite chili recipe. This one is mine, what’s yours?
What is Chili Con Carne?
Chili con carne means chili with meat. It might have originated in San Antonio, Texas, in the mid-1800s, although some trace its origins back to the Canary Islands in the 1700s. Immigrants from the Canary Islands settled in San Antonio in the 1800s and may have brought it with them.
Originally, it was simply meat, sauce, and chili peppers. Eventually, cooks added beans and tomatoes to the dish, although some people are purists and insist that beans do not belong in real chili con carne.
Buying Beef for Chili With Meat
You can use many different cuts of beef that can be cubed for chili, but we’re partial to these.
- Chuck roast
- Pre-cut stew meat in the butcher section of the grocery store
- Beef round
How to Store and Reheat This Recipe
Store cooled chili tightly covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Reheat it in the microwave or bring to a simmer in a pot on the stove and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. You may need to add a little water, as the beans absorb moisture as they sit.
How to Freeze Chili
Freeze chili in a freezer-safe zipper bag or container for up to 3 months. Defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.
Chili Con Carne
PREP TIME10 mins
COOK TIME2 hrs 15 mins
TOTAL TIME2 hrs 25 mins
SERVINGS4 to 6 servings
- 2tablespoons chili powder
- 1teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1tablespoon ground cumin
- 2teaspoons ground oregano
- 1teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 to 4 tablespoons water
- 4strips bacon
- 2 1/2pounds chuck roast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- 1medium white onion, chopped
- 3clove garlic, minced
- 2jalapeño chili peppers, seeded, ribs removed, minced
- 1 (14–ounce) can whole tomatoes
- 2 1/2cups water
- 1tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1teaspoon sugar
- 1 (14-ounce)can kidney beans drained
- 1teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in a couple tablespoons of water
- Kosher salt
- Grated cheddar cheese, garnish
- Red onion, garnish
- Make the chili paste: In a small bowl mix the chili powder, chipotle chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, thyme, and ground coriander seeds. Mix in water so that chili forms a light paste. Set aside.
- Cook the bacon: Cook the bacon in a large skillet on medium high heat until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel. Pour bacon fat from the pan into a separate container, reserve. When the bacon cools, crumble it into smaller pieces and set aside.
- Brown the beef chunks in bacon fat: Increase heat to medium high, add back in 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Working in batches so that you don’t crowd the beef (crowding will steam cook the meat instead of browning it), brown the beef cubes on all sides, lightly salting as you cook the beef. Remove beef from pan, set aside.
- Cook the onions: Add another tablespoon of bacon fat to the pan. Add the chopped onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the chili paste and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.
- Combine the chili ingredients in a big pot, simmer, then cook slowly: Into a 6-quart, thick-bottomed Dutch oven, put onion-chili mixture, beef, bacon, tomatoes (break up the whole tomatoes with your fingers as you put them in the pot), water, lime juice and sugar. Heat the chili on medium high heat until it comes to a simmer. Then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Then uncover and cook for another half hour, keeping the temperature at a place where you can maintain a simmer.
- Thicken with cornstarch: Mix the cornstarch powder into a little water to dissolve the corn starch (otherwise you’ll have lumps to deal with) and add to the chili to thicken it.
- Add the kidney beans: Gently mix in the kidney beans. Add salt to taste. Adjust seasonings. Depending on the acidity of the tomatoes and lime juice you may need a little more sugar to bring the stew to balance. At this point you can also add a little more chili powder if you desire more heat.
- Add toppings to serve: Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese and chopped red onion. Serve with cornbread, tortilla chips, and/or rice.
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