This hearty easy chili is great for game days, cold days, or any day. Full of flavor and ready to enjoy in as little as 45 minutes. The recipe is so simple, it uses a mixture of ground beef and sausage as well as a seasoning packet. Kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans round out the texture and flavor of this chili.
While some purists say chili shouldn’t contain beans, but I like an assortment of beans in chili since the legumes add bulk and a traditional flair to the dish. You can add fresh or canned Hatch chiles instead of bell peppers to really bring the tex mex flavor to this easy chili.
Benefits of Beans
Mixing different legumes gives even more flavor and texture to this chili.
- Kidney Beans: You can’t go wrong with basic kidney beans in chili, the shape and taste is classic. Dark and light kidney beans are available and have a traditional “beany” taste. The firm texture hold up in dishes that cook for hours. The beans are also great in cold dishes like salads.
- Pinto Beans: These beans are medium-sized and have a creamy taste with nutty undertones. They are softer and so break down and mash easily. The beans are one of the most popular beans in America.
- Black Beans: Black beans are medium-sized matte black colored. They have a meaty, rich flavor. The texture stays firm, even a bit crunchy, and stands up to simmering in heat. Black beans are often used in South American and Caribbean cuisines.
- Red Beans: These beans are small and oval. They have a mellow flavor and texture that pairs wonderfully with rice for the classic Cajan dish of red beans and rice.
Chili Seasoning Mix
This seasoning mix is found in a box in grocery stores. Developed by a Texas race car celebrity named Carroll Shelby. In the box you will find a seasoning mix, a small packet of cayenne pepper to customize the heat level and another packet with masa to thicken the chili. These three packets let you make the chili according to your personal taste.
You can assemble your own chili seasoning: Combine 2-3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (or smoked paprika if you want a smoky chili) 1 tablespoon cumin, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper. This is a basic mix that you customize to your personal preferences.
Other Customizations For Easy Chili
- The seasoning mix is what makes this chili simple, but I have a few easy tweaks that transform the recipe into a dish that will wow whoever enjoys a spoonful.
- Start with the holy trinity—diced onion, celery, and bell pepper (check out this post to learn more about what it brings to the party.
- Use a mixture of ground beef and country-style sausage. The sausage gives extra fat and flavor to the base of this chili.
- Add several cloves of minced fresh garlic to give a mellow heat.
- Instead of using water in this easy chili, use some beef bouillon and spicy V-8 juice to give some extra layers of flavor and deglaze the pan.
- 1 – 1-1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder won’t make the recipe taste like chocolate, it just amps up the beefy flavor.
- Some ricotta or cream cheese increases the rich mouth-feel of this chili.
- Combine a mixture of beans to capitalize on all the flavors and textures of kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, and red beans.
- Cornmeal or masa will thicken the chili if it seems too runny.
- Garnish this easy chili with shredded cheese, diced green onions, sliced olives, sour cream, minced parsley or cilantro, and corn chips or tortilla chips.
Hearty easy chili is great for game days, cold days, or any day. Full of flavor and ready to enjoy in as little as 45 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 white onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 stalk celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound sausage
- 1 seasoning packet Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Chili Mix
- 2–3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 small can (11.5 ounces) Spicy V-8 juice
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon
- 1 can (15-ounce) Light or Dark Kidney Beans
- 1 can (15-ounce) Pinto Beans
- 1 can (15-ounce) Black Beans
- 1 can (15-ounce) Small Red Beans
- 2 tablespoons ricotta or cream cheese
- 1 tall can (15-ounce) tomato sauce
- 1 can (15-ounce) fire-roasted tomatoes
- Dash of Tabasco sauce or crushed red pepper flakes, if necessary
- 1 teaspoon cornmeal or masa to thicken, if necessary
- Dice the onion, celery, and bell pepper Brown ground beef and sausage with onions.
- In a large dutch oven pan add vegetable oil over medium-high heat and saute onion, celery and bell pepper for 2-3 minutes until onions turn translucent.
- Add ground beef and sausage and brown while breaking up into bite-sized pieces.
- Stir in the chili seasoning mix until well combined. Add the minced garlic and continue stirring for 2 minutes more.
- Turn heat down to medium-low and deglaze the pan with water and V-8 juice. Stir in the beef bouillon and cocoa powder.
- Open, drain and rinse the cans of beans. Add the four cans of beans to the pan and stir to combine.
- Mix in the ricotta or cream cheese. Add the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and mix in the cheese.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with cayenne pepper.
- Add a 1/2 cup of water if needed. Let the chili simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Adjust the thickness with cornmeal.
- Just before serving, taste and season with kosher salt and pepper. If more heat is desired, add a pinch of tabasco or crushed red peppers.
- Serve warm with shredded cheese, diced green onions, sliced olives, sour cream, minced parsley or cilantro, and corn chips or tortilla chips.
Substitute fresh or canned Hatch green chiles for the bell peppers.
Add diced chorizo for an additional smoked taste with even more flavor.
Start the chili on the stovetop, then at step 5 transfer everything to a slow cooker heated on low and finish the meal in the slow cooker. Let simmer for 3-4 hours.
Easy chili tastes even better the next day so enjoy the leftovers. You can store the chili in the refrigerator for up to five days. Or transfer the easy chili to zip-close bags and freeze for up to three months.
Keywords: chili, Hatch chiles, legume
Serve this chili with Hatch Chile Cornbread. For a wonderful game day feast, have all the garnishes available and let your guests build their own epic bowl.