Seriously The Best Chili Recipe (5-star Beef Chili!)

The best chili recipe you’ll ever eat is right here! Our classic beef chili is made with ground beef, beans, diced tomatoes, homemade chili seasoning, and our secret ingredient – a little maple syrup.

4 bowls of beef chili with Fritos on top.

So many of you have made this chili recipe and it has OVER 1,000 5-star reviews. It is hands-down our most popular chili recipe on Fit Foodie Finds and we can’t wait for you to make it!

If you’re looking for a 5-star, award-winning chili recipe –> it’s right here! We’ve won multiple chili bake-off contests with this tried-and-true recipe and it’s truly the best chili recipe ever.

Cook ground beef in a large stockpot with onion, garlic, beans, chili seasoning, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and our secret ingredient –> a little maple syrup.

Made with Classic Chili Ingredients

There’s a big debacle on the internet about whether classic chili has beans or no beans. In my opinion, the best chili recipe is a base of ground beef, tomato, spices, and BEANS. I love the number of fiber beans add to this dish and I promise you won’t regret adding them.

  • Ground beef: The star of the show here is ground beef. I’ll give you one secret, the fat in your beef matters! We’re big fans of 80% or 85% fat because that little bit of fat adds so much flavor. If you go any leaner, you risk compromising flavor and texture.
  • Tomatoes: One of the reasons I love chili is because it’s made with tomato products. Thick, creamy, and so delicious. This recipe calls for 3 different kinds: tomato sauce (gives this recipe a delicious tomato flavor), diced tomatoes (adds great texture) , tomato puree (helps to thicken and intensify the flavors)
  • Beans: While some traditional beef chili does not call for beans, we like to up the ante a little bit in the nutrition department and include 2 different variations to make this the most epic chili beans recipe. Pinto beans and kidney beans add texture and fiber to this beef chili recipe.
  • Chili seasoning: Do yourself a favor and make your own chili seasoning. I promise you the flavor is better AND there isn’t any added junk. Try our homemade chili seasoning and keep a batch in your cabinet at all times.

homemade chili seasoning ingredients

  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Smoked paprika
  • Salt
  • Ground pepper

#1 Secret Ingredient for THE BEST CHILI RECIPE

Every chili needs a little bit of sugar in some form to bring out all of the savory flavors from the chili seasoning. Our classic chili recipe calls for a little bit of maple syrup. It’s warm, unrefined, and absolutely delightful.

Don’t have maple? Swap it with some brown sugar or even some honey.

beef and onions in stockpot.

Chili 101

What is the best secret ingredient for chili?

The best secret ingredient for chili is a little bit of sugar. Whether you use white sugar, brown sugar, or my favorite, maple syrup, a little bit of sugar will bring out all of the savory spices of your chili.

Does traditional chili have beans?

Traditionally, chili used to be served without beans, but in my opinion, it’s so much better with beans!

How do you make chili more flavorful?

o make chili more flavorful, we suggest using more homemade chili seasoning. We always recommend making your own spice blend at home because you can really control the flavor that way. Other ways to add more flavor include: more salt, more heat (diced jalapeño, hot sauce, or green chiles), or add a jar of salsa.

What are good chili toppings?

Good chili toppings include shredded cheese, green onion, sour cream or Greek yogurt, Fritos, tortilla chips, and chives.

How do you make chili spicy?

How do you make chili spicy? To make this beef chili spicy, you can add a few tablespoons of diced jalapeños, poblano peppers, or green chiles. You can even add a few tablespoons of hot sauce.

What can I use instead of ground beef in chili?

Ohhhh, if you must! Yes, ground chicken or turkey both work for this recipe. We’ve even made this chili recipe with a plant-based ground to make it vegetarian.

Recommended Kitchen Tools

stockpot of the best chili recipe.


One great thing about chili is that it’s so versatile! You can really use any ground meat (or no ground meat at all). All variations of beans are up for grabs and if you like it spicy, add some vinegar-based hot sauce or diced jalapeños.

You can also make this recipe in the crockpot or Instant Pot.

  • Slow Cooker Directions: partially cook the beef on the stove. Then, transfer all ingredients in your slow cooker and mix. Cook on low for around 4 hours. Check out our slow cooker chili recipe.
  • Instant Pot Directions: add all ingredients to the Instant Pot and mix. Cover and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Check out our Instant Pot chili recipe.

Topping Ideas

In my opinion, chili isn’t chili without the toppings! I’ll share what we at our bowl of chili with and some other ideas.

  • shredded cheese
  • chips – tortilla or Fritos
  • green onions
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • chives
  • hot sauce
bowl of beef chili with cheese on top.

Leftover Chili Ideas

Got leftovers? Here are a few ideas on how to repurpose this recipe:

Chili Baked Potatoes: Top either a baked potato or baked sweet potato with leftover chili and shredded cheese.

Chili Nachos: Are you a fan of nachos just like us? Place a bag of tortilla chips on a baking sheet. Then, top with leftover chili, shredded cheddar cheese, and other nachos toppings.

Chili Mac and Cheese: It doesn’t get much better than combining 2 of your favorite things into 1 dish. That’s exactly what we did in our Chili Mac and Cheese recipe.

How do I store beef chili?

Store beef chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To reheat: Either place multiple servings of the beef chili back into the stockpot and heat over medium heat until boiling or place 1 serving of chili into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

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Can I freeze this chili recipe?

Beef Chili is the perfect chili recipe to freeze! We wrote an entire post on how to freeze soup and it works the exact same way for chili.

  1. Let your beef chili cool completely.
  2. Then, transfer it into an airtight container or freezer-safe gallon-size bag.
  3. Remove as much air as possible and seal.
  4. Freeze for up to 3 months.

We recommend freezing in a freezer-safe gallon-size bag or freezer-safe storage container. Make sure that you remove as much air as possible before sealing.

To thaw + reheat: let thaw overnight in the fridge. Then, transfer back into a large stockpot and heat over low/medium.

bowl of beef chili with Fritos and shredded cheese.
Three bowls of the best chili, served with tortilla chips.

Best Chili Recipe

The best chili recipe you’ll ever eat is right here! Our beef chili is made with ground beef, beans, diced tomatoes, and a homemade chili seasoning.

Prep:15 minutes

Cook:30 minutes

Total:45 minutes

Fat 14

Carbs 38

Protein 24


  • 1 lb. ground beef we used 15% fat
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 15-oz. can pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup beef broth chicken broth or water works too

Optional toppings

  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • Fritos
  • green onion


  • First, heat a large stockpot over medium/high heat.

  • Then, add ground beef, yellow onion, and minced garlic and sauté for 7-10 minutes or until beef is fully browned.

  • Next, add pinto beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and maple syrup to the pot and stir to combine.

  • Add spices and 1 cup of broth and stir to combine.

  • Bring beef chili to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes to thicken.

  • Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Tips & Notes

  • Nutrition information is for 6 servings and does not include toppings.

Nutrition facts

Calories: 367kcal Carbohydrates: 38g Protein: 24g Fat: 14g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 11g

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