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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, (or All Purpose Seasoning) 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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glenda embree

About Glenda

My philosophy of cooking, and of eating, is balance. I cook what tastes good and brings joy to those who eat it, even if it’s “healthy”. There is a time and a place for all kinds of dishes. I hope you find that reflected in the recipes you discover, here. Read more...

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