Chili, the comforting, spicy, and savory stew, has been a beloved dish in American cuisine for generations. It's one of those soups that anyone can make and everyone should try.
There are so many variations, probably because of the many cultural influences. Though typically attributed to Mexican cuisine, chili also incorporates Spanish and Native American culinary traditions, as well as regional influences from across the US.
Even so, there's something about the taste of old-fashioned chili that just captures the essence of comfort food.
Why You Will Love this Chili
No two chili's are alike, but it is perfect comfort food. I feel that it's a great dish to tinker with to get your preferred taste.
I like some sweetness in my old fashioned chili. But it needs to be a balance of spice and sweet. That led me to a combination of ingredients I always have on hand, which when combined provides a sweeter profile, similar to a hint of barbeque sauce.
Use this recipe as a starting point, a "canvas for creativity" if you will. You can adjust the spice level, add your favorite toppings, or experiment with unique ingredients.
How to Make this Old Fashioned Chili
Brown the ground beef in your pot. After a couple minutes and when the meat is partially browned, add chopped onion and celery. Cook and stir until the beef is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. If needed, wipe excess grease from the pan using tongs and paper towels (Extremely lean meat will not require this step).
Then add in the liquids: I use one can of diced tomatoes and one can of tomato sauce (12 ounce size). Instead of plain kidney beans, I always use chili beans, which come in an already-seasoned sauce.
That whole can - sauce and all - gets added to the pot. And I mean all. Take a little water and rinse the bean can into the pot.
Give the mixture a stir and then add seasonings: chili powder (of course), garlic powder, and salt. Right now, this is pretty standard chili.
The last three ingredients? Yellow mustard, Worchestershire sauce, and brown sugar. This combo gives a spicy-sweet quality to the chili, which I really enjoy.
💭Tip: the flavors of this chili will deepen as you simmer. If you're in a hurry, 30 minutes could be enough, but I do recommend a full hour for best flavor.
Give this easy stovetop chili some time to simmer for the flavors to develop, then scoop some up to serve.
Maybe add some cheese or sour cream. And of course some crackers, my personal fave. 😃
This chili is delicious on its own, as as I mentioned above I like to add cheese and oyster crackers. Sour cream is another delicious add-in.
You could also sprinkle some chopped green onions on top for a burst of fresh flavor.
Try it with some cornbread or tortilla chips. There's something about those contrasting flavors and textures that make chili even more delicious!
And have you ever considered a Chili Charcuterie Board? It's a great way to serve chili for a party, it gives guests a chance to customize their toppings in a fun way!
Substitutions and Variations
Use ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version. Try a plant based meat alternative or just more beans to make a vegetarian version.
Can't find chili beans? Use drained kidney beans and add more chili powder, to taste.
If you like a spicier version, add a little hot sauce to the chili.
Give it a try, and then make your own version of chili!
If you're fortunate enough to have leftovers, let the chili cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Yes, you can easily adapt this to a slow cooker. Just brown the meat with the veggies in a skillet first, then transfer to a slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for about 6 hours.
Yes, use one of the protein substitutes mentioned above to make a vegetarian chili. To make it vegan, be sure to also use a vegan Worcestershire sauce, as the standard type contains fish.
Add some to macaroni noodles and cheese to make chili mac! Or use it to make chili dogs, chili nachos, or a chili-stuffed baked potato. Delicious!
More Comfort Food Recipes that Start with Ground Beef
If you need a guaranteed family favorite with taco night vibes, make a Dorito casserole with ground beef. It always gets cheers all around!
So many possibilities!
Old Fashioned Chili
- 1 + pounds ground beef
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 15 oz can chili beans, undrained
- ¼ cup water
- 2 -3 TB chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 TB yellow mustard prepared
- 2-3 TB brown sugar
- 1 TB Worchestershire sauce
- Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. After a few minutes add onion and celery and continue cooking until meat is fully cooked and vegetables look tender.
- If needed, wipe excess grease from the pan using a paper towel held by a pair of tongs.
- Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans. Use water to rinse out the bean can and empty into the pot. Stir together.
- Add all spices and stir well. Continue heating until soup begins to simmer.
- Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour.
- For thicker chili, remove cover and simmer uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or more, until desired consistency is reached.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.