This Southern homemade chili is delicious and hearty and full of flavor - a great base chili for everyday. So easy to put together with easily-acquired ingredients and very adaptable!
Think about adding corn, another type of bean like navy or edamame, and/or beef chunks instead of (or as well as) the ground beef.
This chili is about average spice level, but spiciness is very subjective. If in doubt, use only one jalapeno and less cayenne - you can always add more if needed.
💖 What Makes a Great Chili
A good Southern chili recipe has a tomato and meat base with lots of flavor added - the jalapenos, cayenne pepper, paprika, and cumin take care of this.
To be "Southern," you don't want to skimp on flavor - calories are not counted when you are after optimal flavor and a truly Southern dish. It should be thick, not soupy - thick enough to scoop up with crackers, chips, or bread.
Cumin complements the tomato base and meat flavors nicely without adding more spiciness.
Great for a cool fall day or deep wintry night dinner, this Southern chili recipe will warm your insides and fill you to cozy. Serve with your favorite crackers, chips, or bread. Try my cornbread or cheese toast with this.
What You'll Need:
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 large onion
- 1-2 jalapenos
- ground cumin
- 2 cans petite diced tomatoes
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- beef stock/broth
- pinto or kidney beans, drained
- black pepper
- cayenne pepper
- sweet paprika
(See recipe card below for ingredient quantities and printable instructions)
Best Beans for Chili
The standard bean I use in my chili is pinto, but I like to switch it up from time to time and sometimes use kidney beans or I will add more than one type of bean.
In my Panera Turkey Chili Copycat recipe, I got creative due to what the restaurant uses in their chili, and for the first time used garbanzo beans and edamame along with the kidney beans. It turned out so colorful and delicious!
Along with the pintos I use and the typical kidney beans most commonly used, other excellent beans for chili include black beans, navy beans, Great Northern, garbanzo, and edamame.
My suggestion, if you haven't made chili before, is to start with a base recipe (like mine here) and see how you like it. Then next time you make chili, get adventurous and add another bean that you like to the mix.
For example, if you used two cans of pinto beans, then use one can next time along with one can of garbanzo beans and see what you think.
Pay attention to how your chili looks as it's cooking - are there lots of varied colors, does it look too thick or thin? You don't want an overabundance of beans compared to meat, for example, so don't overdo it and add too many beans that will get your chili flavors out of balance.
You want it to be nice and meaty, and the beans will add nice texture and flavor, but you don't want the beans to steal the show.
- In large skillet, you will cook the ground beef and onions until the meat is browned and onions are slightly translucent, chopping up beef and stirring frequently.
- Once browned, drain the excess fat from the pan.
- Next, you will add the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together thoroughly.
- Bring the chili to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer for one hour, covered.
- After the hour is up, stir the chili and taste. Add more salt, black pepper, or cayenne if desired.
- Top with shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, and/or sour cream if desired.
Note: This chili can simmer for another hour or two if needed or desired, but can be served after one hour as well. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors will meld.
(See recipe card below for exact ingredient quantities and printable instructions)
Stock/Broth: For the beef stock, you can substitute chicken stock or broth - sometimes I do this if I don't have beef. However, the beef stock does tend to be a bit more flavorful, so it's my first choice if I have it on hand.
Ground Beef: You can substitute ground turkey for the ground beef if you'd like. If you do, be aware that you will need to add some oil to the pan (about 1-2 tablespoons) since the ground turkey is very low in fat.
Beans: Use pintos, kidney, or any beans you like - just keep the quantity the same so the beans don't overpower the chili. See the Best Beans For Chili section for more.
Slow Cooker: This chili can also be cooked in the slow cooker. Simply brown the ground beef and onions in a skillet on the stove top, and then add all the ingredients to your slow cooker. Cook for 4-6 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
Storing & Reheating
You can store this chili in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. When reheating, you may need to add a bit of liquid (water or broth) to the chili, as it will tend to thicken more in storage. Thaw frozen chili for best results before reheating.
🍴 Serving Suggestions
🍲 More One Pot Recipes
I hope you love this Southern homemade chili as much as my boys and I do! Let me know how yours turned out in the comments below.
Southern Homemade Chili Recipe
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers , deseeded and finely chopped, about ½ cup
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 2 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes , undrained
- 2 15.5 ounce cans pinto beans (or beans of your choice), drained
- 2 cups beef stock or broth
- ½ teaspoon salt , more to taste
- ¼ freshly ground black pepper , more to taste
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (or smoked)
- In large skillet, cook ground beef and onions until meat is browned and onions are slightly translucent, chopping up beef and stirring frequently.
- Drain excess beef fat from pan.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing in thoroughly.
- Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer for one hour, covered.
- Taste and add more salt, black pepper, or cayenne if desired.
- Enjoy topped with shredded cheese along with crusty bread, tortilla chips, or crackers. A side salad goes well with chili as well.
- Note: This chili can simmer for another hour or two if needed or desired, but can be served after one hour as well. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors will meld.
- This chili can simmer for another hour or two if needed or desired, but can be served after one hour as well. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors will meld.
- Use the beans you and your family like the best.
- Beef or chicken broth can be used, but I prefer the richer flavor of beef.
- This chili can also be cooked in the slow cooker. Simply brown the ground beef and onions in a skillet on the stove top, and then add all the ingredients to your slow cooker. Cook for 4-6 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
- Use only 1 jalapeno for less spicy chili. Start with ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper if concerned about it being too spicy.