Just in time for football games and busy weeknights, these easy chili recipes will warm you up and satisfy hungry appetites. Homemade chili is nutritious and hearty, always a great make-ahead meal.
Homemade chili is the perfect answer to the dinnertime dilemma especially in this busy fall season. You can put a pot of chili on the stove to simmer, or even better, in the slow cooker, and it’s ready to eat when you are. Chili isn’t a fussy meal that has to be eaten immediately. In fact, chili likes to simmer quietly as you rush around. It actually gets tastier.
If your family is anything like mine, September is a busy month with school, sports activities, and games. Often we end up with an unexpected hungry guest or two at the table. Chili can stretch to feed a crowd, or, if you happen to have some chili leftover, no problem! It’s great left over (check out the ideas below) and freezes well for future meals.
Enjoy this collection of easy chili recipes. If you feel like you’re in a chili rut, try a new recipe. There’s something for everyone here, from vegetarian to chicken to hearty beef chili, even a Caribbean-style chili for the more adventurous.
Need a quick chili? Give my Instant Pot chili recipes a try. They taste like they’ve been simmered all day but they’re ready to eat in a fraction of the time.
Favorite Chili Toppings
A bowlful of chili is delicious just as it is but why not take it to the next level with toppings? Much like tacos, you can make your chili more exciting with a selection of toppings.
Try shredded cheese, sour cream, or Greek yogurt. Add more vegetable power to your chili with jalapeño peppers, sliced green onions, or chopped white onions. Fresh cilantro leaves or snipped chives are great choices. Diced avocado or creamy guacamole are so good on chili. Add pickled red onions or sliced olives. Tortilla chips, saltine crackers, oyster crackers, or Fritos are popular, too.
Homemade Chili Seasoning Recipe
Make your own homemade chili seasoning with spices and herbs you may have in your pantry. Put together a double or triple batch so you have it ready whenever you need it. My chili powder blend has a couple of surprising ingredients that will take your chili recipes to the next level.
What To Serve With Chili
- Beer Bread: Always a popular choice, beer bread is easy to make and goes really well with chili.
- No Knead Whole Wheat Bread or Dutch Oven Bread (no knead) If you prefer yeast breads, these two recipes are popular choices.
- Cornbread or Cornbread Muffins
- Whole Wheat Biscuits with cornmeal, cheddar, and black pepper
- Seasoned Oyster Crackers
- Homemade Cheez-Its (Cheddar Cheese Crackers)
- Assortment of fresh vegetables and homemade dill vegetable dip
What is the secret to making Good Chili?
Are you looking for that special something that will make your chili recipe outstanding? Although you can’t go wrong with any of the tried and true recipes listed below, I have a few tips that will make a difference in your chili.
Remember that everyone has personal preferences so what may sound good to you may not be the perfect chili recipe for someone else. The following tips apply to most chili recipes.
- Dice the vegetables correctly. Most chili recipes include a few aromatics such as onions, celery, and peppers, and many recipes include other vegetables, too. Dice the vegetables evenly and into small pieces. They’re there to add flavor but shouldn’t be super noticeable.
- Brown the meat. If you’re adding meat to your chili, it’s best to cook it first, especially ground meat. Break up large chunks. Remember, you eat chili with a spoon so everything needs to be spoon-sized.
- Rinse and drain the beans. If you’re adding canned beans, be sure to rinse the beans first. You don’t want that juicy, sludgy stuff in your chili.
- Try homemade chili seasoning. Consider making your own blend of chili powder. Try my recipe for chili seasoning; tweak it so it’s perfect for you.
- Simmer the chili. Cook chili over low heat, giving it time to simmer. Let the flavors develop and blend together. Simmering the chili gives it a great consistency, too.
- Taste the chili. Always taste a spoonful of the chili before you serve it. Adjust the seasoning as needed. It may need more salt, a little more spice, or even a spoonful of sugar to adjust the acidity of the tomatoes.
Make Ahead Ideas
- Make a double batch. It’s just as easy to make a double batch as a single batch, as long as you have a large enough pan. Even if you don’t, use two separate pans. Eat one pan of chili tonight and freeze the other panful for an easy dinner in the future.
- Prep the ingredients ahead of time. If you plan on putting the chili in the slow cooker before you go to work, save time in the morning by prepping some of the ingredients the night before. Just chopping up the veggies will save you about 15 minutes.
Storage & Reheating Tips
- Refrigerate: Cool chili to room temperature before refrigerating. If chili has sat out for more than 2 hours, it should probably be discarded. Store it in a covered container for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: Chili can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 4 months. You can also freeze chili in resealable freezer bags. They lie flat in the freezer and thaw out more quickly. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Reheat: Chili can be reheated on the stove over medium low heat until warmed through. Heat individual portions in the microwave, using microwave-safe bowls. It’s always a good idea to cover the chili, especially if it contains beans which tend to explode when microwaved.
Use leftover chili for another great meal.
- Loaded baked potatoes: Top a baked potato with a spoonful or two of warm chili and a handful of shredded cheddar, along with any other toppings you like. Try air fryer baked potatoes or Instant Pot baked potatoes.
- Chili queso dip: Turn the chili into a hearty dip for tortilla chips. If you like a cheesy dip, stir in shredded queso cheese when you warm up the chili.
- Chili dogs: Try air fryer hot dogs; top them with warm chili, chopped onions, mustard, or pickles.
- Chili mac and cheese: Add chili to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe for chili mac. Try crockpot mac and cheese or Instant Pot mac and cheese.
- Chili spaghetti: Use leftover chili to top pasta instead of your favorite pasta sauce.