Classic Spicy Chili. Loaded With Toppings.

A classic spicy chili recipe with ground beef and beans to warm your belly on a cold night.  Unless you’re from Texas in which case putting beans in your chili could end in criminal charges.  At the very least neighbours will shun you.

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Always, always, always make a big batch of chili the night before Halloween so you don’t have to worry about making dinner while answering the door and stealing candy.

There’s something deliciously comforting about a cold night and a warm bowl of chili. The minute the trees begin to rustle I start aching for the kind of food that warms you from the inside out. To me, chili is at its best when it has layers and layers of heat and flavour. Different chiles, spices, beans and slow cooking are the key to getting the best bowl of chili you’ve ever had.

I know. You ALREADY make the best chili. Here’s the thing. You probably don’t.  

K. Now that I’ve ruined our friendship, let’s continue on.

Trust me, there are good times and tips ahead for us. For one thing you’ll be gassy enough to make your pajama pants billow out, and that’s almost always fun.

How to Make Classic Chili

As every hockey mom knows, chili is an easy thing to have for a rushed fall dinner because the prep work really only consists of chopping an onion and smashing some garlic.   Then you throw everything into a pot or slow cooker and wait for the house to smell delicious.  

Properly diced onion on a maple chopping block.

Chopping an Onion

Onions are the base of everything delicious except sugary breakfast cereal. Chopping an onion is easy enough, but here’s a reminder on the fastest and easiest way to do it.


Smashed garlic on a wood chopping block with a chef's knife lying beside it.

Smashing Garlic

Forget the garlic press, they’re hard to clean and take up drawer space. Lay your peeled garlic on a cutting board and smash it with the side of your knife.

Just place a wide knife over the garlic clove, then with the heel of your hand (or fist) smash down on the knife. This will flatten your garlic. Then you can mince.


3 Tablespoons of rendered fat from 1 pound of ground beef in chili.

Drain the fat if you’re counting calories

Fat has flavour which means fat = better chili. However, if you’re counting calories drain that beef fat!

1 lb of lean ground beef typically has around 3 Tablespoons of fat.  That’s 345 calories you got rid of.  86 calories per serving.


Staub pot filled with ingredients for chili in it including a hot pepper, beans, diced tomatoes and spices.

Once you’ve cooked your beef (and drained it) all you have to do is add all of the ingredients into your most prized pot and let ‘er cook for a few hours.  


The other thing that makes this (or any!) chili irresistible is loading it with as many toppings as you can pile on.

Chili without toppings is like doing a crossword puzzle in pencil.  It’s for amateurs.

Wait. WHAT? You don’t put toppings on your chili???  You need to change that this second.

Topping Ideas for Chili
  • Sour Cream
  • Cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Crumbled Tortilla Chips
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Sliced Green Onions
  • Avocado
  • Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Pickled Jalapeños
  • Fritos!
  • Squeeze of lime
  • Croutons

Homemade croutons take all of 15 minutes to make, and 10 of those minutes are spent scrolling Instagram while you wait for them to cook.

After a couple of hours of simmering and bubbling ladle it into a bowl, drop your toppings on, and enjoy.  The earthy aroma will fill the house. And possibly make your pajama bottoms dance.

I can’t even imagine a better night.


Chili Con Carne.

Belly warming Chili with beans and cheese for a cold night.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 7 1 cup servings
Calories: 279.52kcal
Author: The Art of Doing Stuff


  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes drained
  • 1 cup tomato sauce you can use canned spaghetti sauce if you have it in the cupboard
  • 1 28 oz. kidney beans can drained
  • 1 14 oz. can of baked beans in tomato sauce not drained - make sure the beans aren't in molasses. That's TOO sweet.
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 Tbsps. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes Or more to taste
  • 4 shakes hot sauce I use Tabasco
  • 2 marinated chipotle peppers mashed (the type from a can)
  • 1 chili pepper of your choice I use yellow banana peppers or jalapeño
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Big old grinding of fresh pepper
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Cut your hot pepper in half. Remove the seeds and membrane. Finely dice one half of the hot pepper. Reserve the other half.
  • Add ground beef, onions, garlic and diced hot pepper to pot and cook until onions are transluscent and beef is browned. Pull beef and onion garlic aside to make room at the bottom of the pot to toast the spices until you can smell them. 30 seconds or so.
  • Add remaining ingredients (including the reserved half pepper)
  • Bring to boil.
  • Simmer for 2+ hours with the lid off.


Taste your chili as it's cooking and adjust it to your liking. If you want more chili flavour add more cumin and chili powder. Need it hotter? Add in more pepper flakes. Too thick? Add some more tomato sauce or the juice from the drained tomatoes.
Don't forget the toppings!
  • Sour Cream
  • Cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Crumbled Tortilla Chips
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Sliced Green Onions
  • Avocado
  • Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Pickled Jalapeños


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 279.52kcal | Carbohydrates: 6.9g | Protein: 18.03g | Fat: 20.1g | Saturated Fat: 7.57g | Cholesterol: 69.02mg | Sodium: 543.85mg | Potassium: 488.79mg | Fiber: 2.57g | Sugar: 3.06g | Vitamin A: 1464.79IU | Vitamin C: 13.55mg | Calcium: 40.81mg | Iron: 3.18mg

What to Serve With Chili

My mother would say french fries because french fries go with everything.  However I would say … Serve your chili with a side of salad and a plate of buttered toast. 


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Classic Spicy Chili. Loaded With Toppings.


  1. Christina Stark says:

    Always interesting to see how the colder weather triggers our food cravings. Loved the chili recipe! A friend recently chose the chicken chili route and I’m jonesin’ (sp?) for my mother’s lentil soup! I’m off to get a ham bone somewhere….

  2. Sabina says:

    How long in a crock pot? Low or High setting? Pork & Beans…the jury is still out on that one…

  3. Julie says:

    I’m just stunned that chili without beans is a thing? What is that?

  4. Vikki says:

    I’ve always put beans of some kind in my chili and I was with you (100%) until the “pork and beans.” Gak!!

  5. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Chili for Halloween? You betcha babe! My grocery store has lean ground beef for $2.99 so I’m headin’ out soon. Also a good time to make a Shepherd’s Pie (or as we like to say “Cheaper Pie” ever since we saw it on a buffet at a Mexican resort 😂). Have you tried adding a can of black beans, along with the kidney? It adds another layer of flavour/texture. And speaking of fluffing up yer pj’s, it’s entertaining for the kids too!

  6. Madonna Witte says:

    I have been giggling with glee while reading all the comments and feedback on your most excellent chili recipe…traveling around the world and around the United States has offered me the perfect opportunity to eat chili everywhere…diner, pot luck, roadside stand..
    My most favorite and most memorable chili was offered up by a 12 year old budding chef (who turned her nose up at a lemonade stand)…served up on a back road in rural Louisiana for $.25…bring your own container…oh, yes…the line was long and everyone asked kindly for seconds! Cook it, serve it, love it and share it, my friends!!

  7. Mary Reiber says:

    I make a big batch, omit the ground beef the original recipe I use calls for, found it doesn’t even need it, this also gives me the option to use up any leftover chicken, steak, etc when it is served. Recently a friend came over for lunch, declared she did not like chili, decided to taste it anyway (I had teriyaki chicken ready just in case) she ate two bowls of chili plus when she got home she had the one I sent for her hubby.

  8. Tina says:

    My DIL does chili with hamburger and Italian sausages all chopped. Then she uses whatever is in her garden. And everyone loves it (except me…don’t tell her). She loves hot peppers but my son is allergic to any pepper with any red in it. I need red peppers! And my DIL serves it with rice. I serve it with garlic bread. I think the best thing about chili is that everyone likes it different than anyone else likes it so we can always feel superior while appreciating the flavors of their cooking.

  9. Kristen says:

    oh hey there! I was wondering if you could post the Instant Pot modifications for this recipe…I’m not a huge fan of the thing, but since you had great success with this chili using the Instant Pot, I will definitely give it a try. Thanks : )

  10. Meghan says:

    Karen, I too used to drain the fat off my ground beef. But no more. I read “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” by Nina Teicholz – and it challenged and changed everything I thought I knew about healthy eating. This book, thoroughly researched over 9 years, will astound you. Read it.

  11. Mindy says:

    Next time, use cubed chuck roast. It’ll change your life. Add Fritos to the other toppings and you’ll be driving to Oregon to hug me.

  12. Margaret K. says:

    Pork & beans in the chili is an interesting idea – will have to try this. My cooking pot won’t look as beautiful, though =(

  13. Dana says:

    I make a similar chili many times from the first cool autumn night to the last snow/ice storm and especially on the night we carve jack-o-lanterns and watch old Halloween movies. The addition of pork/beans is intriguing…I may try that. I typically use cilantro instead of parsley, but agree that toppings are key!

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