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Best Easy Chili Recipe | 6 Ingredients, 30 Minutes

My best easy chili recipe is one of those sim­ple dish­es that makes get­ting week­night din­ners on the table an absolute breeze. 

best easy chili in a white bowl topped with grated cheddar, minced red onion and cilantro
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It’s in a reg­u­lar rota­tion in our fall and win­ter meal plans because it’s one of my hus­band’s favorites with clas­sic chili recipe flavor. 

This sim­ple chili recipe is what I would con­sid­er “medi­um” spicy. It’s loaded with beans and ground beef so it’s a hearty, sat­is­fy­ing com­fort food meal. 

We like to top it and dress it up just a bit. What we use to fin­ish off my best chili recipe depends on what’s in the fridge, but com­mon gar­nish­es at our house would be sour cream, minced onion, grat­ed cheese, sliced jalapenos, avo­ca­do chunks, crushed crack­ers or tor­tilla chips.

Using Classic Chili Leftovers

Our chili left­overs are fan­tas­tic when rewarmed the sec­ond day for quick and easy lunches. 

Those chili recipe left­overs are also a huge hit incor­po­rat­ed into brand new meals. Lat­er in the week, try a chili-topped loaded baked pota­to, chili dogs or chili cheese nachos. 

You can also stir extra chili into your favorite mac and cheese for a chili mac sup­per sen­sa­tion. You’re going to win the quick and easy din­ner game no mat­ter how you use this scrump­tious chili recipe.

homemade chili in a pot, fully cooked

Customize Your Easy Chili Recipe

In my opin­ion, this is the best chili recipe, not just because it’s so quick and sim­ple, but because it is so eas­i­ly customizable. 

You can add extra ingre­di­ents and gar­nish­es to the soup pot as you’re mak­ing clas­sic chili. Or, you can top the fin­ished soup with those fam­i­ly-favorite accompaniments. 

You can tame down the heat in your chili recipe (see tips in recipe card). And, you can spice it up to bring even more heat. 

Make this sim­ple dish a fam­i­ly favorite by tai­lor­ing it to the per­son­al tastes of the ones you hap­pen to be cook­ing for. You’ll be a top chef in their eyes every time you serve my best chili recipe!

best easy chili
Best Easy Chili Recipe with Clas­sic Chili flavor.

The Ingredients

There are only six ingre­di­ents in this sim­ple chili recipe. They’re com­mon and easy to find, so you can always have a sup­ply in the pantry. I find them all eas­i­ly at my local Wal­mart gro­cery or fam­i­ly gro­cery stores. 

You’ll also notice that I don’t have salt or black pep­per on the list. Many of the sea­son­ings and ingre­di­ents already con­tain salt and pep­per. I rec­om­mend cook­ing the chili and adding salt and pep­per at the end if you feel it’s needed.

  • Lean Ground Beef: I use 85% to 90% lean ground beef in this recipe. It has just enough fat to be able to brown it with­out adding fat to the pan, but not so much that the ground beef needs to be drained and rinsed before con­tin­u­ing with the chili recipe. Easy and quick!
raw ground beef on parchment paper sitting on a wooden cutting board
Use the best qual­i­ty ground beef you can afford. It makes a big dif­fer­ence in flavor.
  • Chili Beans in Chili Sauce: I use Mrs. Grimes brand and I buy the 40 oz. (fam­i­ly size can). If you’re buy­ing small (14.5 oz) cans, use three. (See FAQs for sub­sti­tut­ing kid­ney beans or oth­er types.)
  • Diced or Petite Diced Toma­toes or Whole canned Toma­toes (Crush whole toma­toes as you add them to the pot for the chili recipe.)
  • Diced Toma­toes with Green Chilies
  • V‑8 Veg­etable Juice
  • Chili Sea­son­ing Mix or South­west­ern Seasoning

What are Tomatoes with Green Chilies?

original and mild cans of tomatoes with green chilies

They are just small diced toma­toes that have had those deli­cious South­west­ern Hatch green chilies added to them.

You can buy the well-known name brand, Rotel, if you like. I usu­al­ly opt for the store brand as they are less expen­sive and there is zero dif­fer­ence in taste of your fin­ished chili. 

You can usu­al­ly get these in “orig­i­nal” or “mild”, so choose a heat lev­el that is right for your din­ner table.

Why V‑8 Vegetable Juice?

This is the one you’re prob­a­bly scratch­ing your head about. lol 

jar of V-8 vegetable juice

I like the lit­tle extra kick of toma­to fla­vor that V‑8 adds to my bests chili recipe. 

And, it nev­er hurts to have extra hid­den veg­eta­bles in a dish, either. Nor­mal­ly, you would­n’t add Toma­toes, Car­rots, Cel­ery, Beets, Pars­ley, Let­tuce, Water­cress and Spinach to your best chili recipe. But, hid­den in this tasty veg­etable juice, you do get to add them and no one is the wiser.

This is the ingre­di­ent that you will adjust to suit your own pref­er­ence when it comes to the “thick­ness” you pre­fer in your chili. Less is thick­er, more stew-like chili and using more will get you a con­sis­ten­cy that is more soupy.

You could sub­sti­tute water, if you’d rather. That will change the fla­vor pro­file some­what and I would rec­om­mend tast­ing to see if you need extra salt before you serve it.

Chili Seasoning Packets

There is prob­a­bly con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing these. For me, they are afford­able and con­ve­nient. They already con­tain the chili pow­der and oth­er spices I need for fla­vor. It works for clas­sic chili in a hurry.

Chili Seasoning packet

Yes, there is prob­a­bly unnec­es­sary sug­ar con­tent and there are def­i­nite­ly fillers. I pre­fer my South­west­ern Sea­son­ing, to be hon­est, but when I’m rushed and don’t have any on hand, these pack­ets are what I reach for.

The recipe calls for 1 or 2 chili sea­son­ing pack­ets. When I choose those, I use two. How­ev­er, for a milder chili it would be best to start with one. You can always add more after tast­ing it dur­ing the cook­ing process. 

For spici­er chili, I def­i­nite­ly pre­fer 2 to 4 tea­spoons of my home­made South­west­ern sea­son­ing, instead of the chili pack­ets. It con­tains chipo­tle chili pow­der, cumin, oregano and more to bring the best chili fla­vor with­out sug­ar or fillers and takes my best chili recipe next-level.

How to Adjust the Spice Level in Chili

Southwest Seasoning Blend in a jar and spilling out of a measuring spoon on a concrete counter top
My yum­my Home­made South­west­ern Seasoning

In this easy clas­sic chili recipe, we con­sid­er the heat lev­el to be medi­um. If that’s still a lit­tle much for you, the heat can be turned up or down.

Sim­ply adjust how much, if any, of the toma­toes with green chilies you use and/or by adjust­ing the num­ber of chili sea­son­ing mix packets. 

Prob­a­bly steer clear of the South­west­ern sea­son­ing if you pre­fer mild chili. Try any one of these options to adjust the recipe to your fam­i­ly’s heat tolerance.

Options For Milder Chili

  • Omit the canned toma­toes with chilies and add an extra can of diced tomatoes.
  • Use the canned toma­toes with chilies that are labeled “mild”, instead of “orig­i­nal”.
  • Omit the canned toma­toes with chilies and add an extra ¾ cup of V‑8 veg­etable juice.
  • Use only one pack­et of chili sea­son­ing mix, instead of two.
  • Stir­ring a dol­lop of sour cream into the chili can also tem­per the spiciness.
canned diced tomatoes

Options For Spicier Chili

small can of green chilies

  • Use my South­west­ern sea­son­ing in place of the chili pack­ets. This is my pref­er­ence for bring­ing more heat and fla­vor. Use 2 to 4 teaspoons.
  • Fine­ly mince a jalapeno and add it to the oth­er ingre­di­ents when cook­ing your chili. Using the seeds adds even more heat.
  • Add 1/4 tea­spoon red pep­per flakes or 1/2 tea­spoon chili pow­der to the chili mix­ture as you’re cooking.

As always, use appro­pri­ate pre­cau­tions and hand­wash­ing when han­dling hot pep­pers. Nev­er touch your eyes or face until you’ve washed up. Did you know you should use cold water, not hot, to wash up after han­dling pep­pers?

FAQs About Easy Chili Recipe Substitutions

Can I use kid­ney beans instead of the chili beans in chili gravy?

You can def­i­nite­ly sub­sti­tute drained and rinsed kid­ney beans, pin­to beans or black beans in this chili. Any of your favorite beans can work. Occa­sion­al­ly, I will mix sev­er­al dif­fer­ent kinds.

I, per­son­al­ly, don’t care for the tougher skins on kid­ney beans. So, I look for red beans or black beans or even can­nelli­ni or great north­ern beans if I’m not using beans in chili gravy. If you don’t mind the skin tex­ture on kid­ney beans, they are def­i­nite­ly tra­di­tion­al in many chili recipes.

Still, for con­ve­nience and fla­vor I usu­al­ly choose the beans in chili gravy when I’m in a hur­ry. Keep in mind if your kid­ney, black or pin­to beans are drained and rinsed, you won’t have that addi­tion­al “gravy” liq­uid, so will want more of the V‑8 juice and maybe even extra chili pow­der or chili seasoning.

canned kidney beans
I only have whole canned toma­toes. Can I use them instead?

Yes. Just crush them as you add them to the pot and also add a small can of green chilies or a minced jalapeno.

What can I use instead of diced toma­toes with green chilies?

You can add plain diced toma­toes and a small can of green chilies. If you don’t have canned chilies, you can add a minced jalapeno.

How to Make Homemade Chili

  1. In a 4‑qt or larg­er stock pot, over medi­um high heat, crum­ble and brown the ground beef until done and no pink remains.  Salt and pep­per the ground beef, to taste, as it browns. 
  2. Reduce the heat to medi­um and add the chili sea­son­ing pack­ets along with the can of chili beans in chili sauce (or kid­ney beans, black beans or your favorite vari­eties).  Stir to combine. 
  3. Add the petite diced toma­toes, toma­toes with chilies and the V‑8 juice.  The amount of V‑8 you use will deter­mine the thick­ness of your chili.  Adjust it to your per­son­al pref­er­ence.  (If you used drained and rinsed kid­ney beans, or oth­ers, instead of beans in chili sauce, you will want more V‑8 juice and sea­son­ing, too.) Stir every­thing to combine. 
  4. Allow the chili to cook for 15 min­utes to heat through and to meld all the fla­vors. It will thick­en more and more, the longer it cooks. It real­ly only needs a bout 15 min­utes for the raw spices to cook and mel­low into the sauce. 
  5. Serve it with your favorite gar­nish­es, top­pings and sides. Some of our favorites are sour cream, minced onion, grat­ed cheese, sliced jalapenos, avo­ca­do chunks, crushed crack­ers or tor­tilla chips. Add a green sal­ad and your meal is complete!
best easy chili recipe - chili in an ivory stoneware bowl topped with grated cheddar, onions and cilantro

The Recipe

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best easy chili

Best Easy Chili


  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 25 min­utes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 serv­ings 1x

Description

My Best Easy Chili recipe is a hearty, spicy & deli­cious meal in a bowl. You’ll have it on the table in under 30 min­utes.  With only 6 ingre­di­ents & one pot you’re going to win week­night din­ners with this recipe.  It will become a reg­u­lar in your fall and win­ter meal plans.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (I use 90%)
  • 1 can (40 oz.) chili beans in chili sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (10 oz.) can diced toma­toes with green chilies
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups V‑8 veg­etable juice
  • 12 envelopes (1.25 oz.) chili sea­son­ing mix or 2 to 4 tea­spoons South­west­ern Seasoning
  • salt and pep­per, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a 4‑qt or larg­er stock pot, over medi­um high heat, crum­ble and brown the ground beef until done and no pink remains.  Salt and pep­per the ground beef, to taste, as it browns.
  2. Reduce the heat to medi­um and add the chili sea­son­ing pack­ets along with the can of chili beans in chili sauce.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add the petite toma­toes, toma­toes with chilies and the V‑8 juice.  The amount of V‑8 you use will deter­mine the thick­ness of your chili.  Adjust it to your per­son­al pref­er­ence.  Stir to combine.
  4. Allow the chili to cook for 15 min­utes to heat through and to meld all the flavors.
  5. Serve with your favorite gar­nish­es (We like sour cream, grat­ed cheese, diced onion, etc.), top­pings and crack­ers or tor­tilla chips.

Notes

Substituting the Beans

You can def­i­nite­ly sub­sti­tute drained and rinsed kid­ney beans, pin­to beans or black beans in this chili. Any of your favorite beans can work. Occa­sion­al­ly, I will mix sev­er­al dif­fer­ent kinds.

Still, for con­ve­nience and fla­vor I usu­al­ly choose the beans in chili gravy when I’m in a hur­ry. Keep in mind if your kid­ney, black or pin­to beans are drained and rinsed, you won’t have that addi­tion­al “gravy” liq­uid, so will want more of the V‑8 juice and maybe even extra chili pow­der or chili seasoning.

Adjusting the Spice Level

If you’re cook­ing for lit­tles, you may need to know how to tame down the spice in your chili.  You can do that in sev­er­al ways, depend­ing on the heat lev­el you want.  Choose the method that works best for your situation.

Use the canned toma­toes with chilies that are labeled “mild”, instead of “orig­i­nal”.

  1. Omit the canned toma­toes with chilies and add an extra ¾ cup of V‑8 veg­etable juice.
  2. Omit the canned toma­toes with chilies and add an extra can of petite diced tomatoes.
  3. Use only one pack­et of chili sea­son­ing mix, instead of two.
  4. Stir­ring a dol­lop of sour cream into the chili can also tem­per the spiciness.

If you like to turn up the heat in your chili, be sure you’re adding the canned toma­toes with green chilies marked orig­i­nal, not mild.  You can also add minced jalapeno or red pep­per flakes, to taste.  My favorite way to add heat to this easy chili recipe is to add 2 to 4 tea­spoons of my home­made South­west­ern Sea­son­ing.

South­west Sea­son­ing Recipe

  • 2 Table­spoons chipo­tle chili powder
  • 2 Table­spoons smoked paprika
  • 2 Table­spoons ground cumin
  • 1 Table­spoon gar­lic powder
  • 1 Table­spoon dried oregano
  • 1 Table­spoon kosher salt
  • 2 tea­spoons ground corian­der
  • 2 tea­spoons onion pow­der
  • 1 tea­spoon ground black pepper

Com­bine all ingre­di­ents in a small bowl, stir­ring until every­thing is even­ly dis­trib­uted.  Store in a cool, dry place in an air­tight container.

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Soup, Chili
  • Method: stove top
  • Cui­sine: Amer­i­can

Stay warm friends! Enjoy this easy chili recipe and let me know if you give it a try! 

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57 thoughts on “Best Easy Chili Recipe | 6 Ingredients, 30 Minutes”

  1. This tast­ed so amaz­ing! Thanks a lot for shar­ing this indeed super easy to make chili recipe! Fam real­ly loves it! Will sure­ly have this again! High­ly recommended!

    Reply

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