Basic Chili Recipe

May 30, 2012


I get a big craving for homemade chili once or twice per year, and thanks to various sources, I've developed a recipe (aka scrawled notes on a stained piece of paper) that is super basic and alterable. Sometimes I add cooked ground meat and beef broth to the pot, or sometimes I use fresh tomatoes from the garden instead of the canned variety. No matter how I alter it, it always turns out well.


Of course, my favorite thing about chili is the toppings. We like to make our own tortilla chips, and load our bowls with cilantro, avocado, sour cream, cheese, and chopped green onion. If it's cold outside, I'll dig up my favorite recipe for cornbread and serve that alongside the chili with some honey and butter. And one of the best things about homemade chili is that it freezes well for quick meals later in the month.

Basic Chili Recipe

1-2 tablespoons oil or butter
2 onions, sliced
Pinch of salt
3 15 oz cans beans (pinto, kidney, or black beans)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
3 or 4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
10 oz frozen corn
2 cups water or broth
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onions for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the caramelized onions with the rest of the ingredients, and stir until combined. Bring contents to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

(Alternately, you can combine the caramelized onions with the rest of the ingredients in a crockpot and let cook for 4-6 hours before serving.)

Homemade Tortilla Chips

Serve with toppings such as tortilla chips, diced avocado, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar, chopped green onion, or cornbread. Drink with a nice cold beer (optional). Enjoy!


  1. oh my gosh that looks so delicious! especially with the diced avocado! thanks for sharing!

  2. I have always enjoyed homemade chili but don't have a recipe that I can really count on to turn out every time. I like that you say no matter what you do it turns out, that's what I like in a recipe. Thanks. Your chips look yummy. xo

  3. The chips WERE yummy! Wish I had some to munch on right now. :)

  4. If you take out the corn (bleuch) and add minced beef/chicken this is pretty much my recipe too!

    Yours looks MUCH better than mine ever does though!

  5. Haha, the corn is my favorite part! That's the good thing about chili though. You can add/subtract with vigor and still get a really tasty bowl. :)

  6. I love that you said that about the toppings! If it were "legal" I think I could almost make a meal of the toppings and forget about the chili even!

  7. Totally agree, Meryl. Totally agree.