The Best Ever Beef Chili
I have done it. I have made the BEST EVER beef chili. For years I made what I called “chili”, but I was never able to get the right consistency or flavors. This time I tried something different, and it worked.
When I usually cook beef chili, I add whatever I find in the fridge and some flavored liquid of some sort. Beef broth, beer, anything liquid and flavorful. In the past I have added my own fun ingredients, and however much liquid I felt was necessary. I also tried to get away with cooking chili for maybe an hour.
Why couldn’t I get it right? It tasted good, but it didn’t taste like chili. It looked good but it didn’t look like chili. It wasn’t deep red in color, thick or rich like chili. It was ground beef soup with a lot of flavors.
These last few weeks, I learned where I was making mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, all my chili has resulted in great flavor. Chili isn’t all about the flavor. Consistency is something that is so important in chili. If it doesn’t have the right consistency and looks like a pot of liquid and ground beef, you might as well call it a soup.
But how do we get the right consistency? Here are my tips:
- Less liquid
- Cook for longer, and let reduce
- Canned beans and their liquid for thickening
1. Less Liquid
The secret to chili is adding very little liquid. I used to dump a whole beer, some broth, and tomato sauce in it. With all the liquid I used, of course I wouldn’t get a thick and rich chili.
Now, I use a very small amount of liquid. Tomato juice, liquid from the diced tomatoes, a little broth, and the juice from the canned beans. Cooking down the vegetables will also yield a small amount of liquid. After the chili cooks covered for a few hours, be sure to remove the lid and let the chili reduce to your desired consistency.
2. Cook for longer, and let reduce
Cook time is another key to great chili. Cooking for longer will yield a deep color, and will help to bring out the flavors of all the spices and ingredients. Cooking for longer can also help reduce the amount of liquid. Some people cook their chili all day long, and I’m sure it has even more flavor!
Look at these pictures below for example. The chili on the top hasn’t been cooking for long. The chili on the bottom has been cooking for several hours, resulting in a deep color and flavor.
3. Canned beans and their liquid for thickening
I have started adding canned pinto beans into the beef chili that I make. The beans are starchy, so adding them and their liquid can help to thicken your chili naturally. Beans are not necessary, you can add less liquid to help the chili thicken. The beans add substance, flavor, texture, and I like them! But if you prefer, you can leave them out. If you are eating paleo, leave the beans out.
I love to cook chili in my Le Creuset dutch oven. I feel that cooking chili in a dutch oven helps to keep the heat in, making the flavors come together with more depth. If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can find a great Le Creuset one on Amazon, and I also recommend these Amazon Basics ones. Lodge also makes great enameled cast iron pots, just like my dutch oven. I prefer enameled cast iron because it is non-stick without seasoning it, and you can cook more things in it (like foods with acid). Lodge and Amazon Basics have great affordable prices, but I am always drawn to Le Creuset ANYTHING!
Check out my other Poblano Beef Chili using beef chuck cubes instead of ground beef!
The Best Beef Chili
- Dutch oven or large pot
- Stove top
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup carrots chopped
- 1/2 cup celery chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 1/2 green pepper chopped
- 1/2 red pepper chopped
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1/2 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 14.5 oz can beans (pinto or any) with liquid
- 1/4 cup vegetable or beef broth
- 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos chopped
- 1.5 tbsp ground chili powder
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Brown ground beef and 1/2 of the chopped onion in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Drain fat if needed.
- Add carrots, celery, bell peppers and remaining onion to ground beef mixture. Combine and saute for a few minutes.
- Add all spices and stir well to combine.
- Add jalapenos, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans with liquid and broth. Combine well, and cover with a lid.
- Reduce heat and summer for 2 to 2 ½ hours.
- Remove lid and let reduce for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes before serving with your favorite toppings.