This simple perfect chili is my all-time favorite. Maybe even my favorite food. I will make huge batches of it, share it with friends, and freeze some for later! It can be dinner by itself or easily converted to a quesadilla or nacho toppings.
What exactly is chili?
Chili is considered a “kitchen sink” meal. Historically, folks would take whatever foods they had and use them. The result might sometimes mean you add beef, other times turkey or no meat, depending on what you have around. It’s a great place to practice flexibility with what you have on hand and what sounds good.
Make it Yours!
I’ve written the recipe the way I love it most, but feel free to adapt it to your taste buds! I’ve noted things that are optional to adjust to your liking. You might also consider your food values along the way as you’re navigating any decisions about how you might make it.
My Secret Ingredient
The secret ingredient is chipotle peppers in adobo. It’s a rich, deep flavor that adds a little kick that will keep you coming back for more. A little bit of this chipotle sauce goes a LONG way, so be sure to add a little. This version of the recipe is mild-to-medium. If you’re a spice lover, this will be mild for you. If you’re not someone who loves heat, this will probably be medium for your palate. For a milder flavor, only use half the adobo sauce (but don’t skip it!). Yes, it may feel “wasteful” to buy the can just for a bit of the sauce, but it’s worth it! If throwing away food is hard for you, I suggest checking out my blog article on food waste.
Can a Bowl of Chili Count as a Meal?
It sure does! And it’s an easy meal. It has all your food groups in one bowl: protein, fat, carb, and plant! Plus LOTs of flavor. Remember to honor your hunger and fullness cues to help guide your portion size.
Homemade Chili Recipe:
- 3 Tablespoons Cooking oil (Olive oil, vegetable oil or any cooking oil)
- 1.5 lbs Ground Beef or Turkey* Optional!
- 1/2 pkg. Taco Seasoning, I prefer Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning, but use whichever you like
- 1 teaspoon ground Coriander, (no biggie if you skip this)
- 1 teaspoon dried Oregano, (no biggie if you skip this)
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Chipotle Sauce from Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce (This is spicy, so just use the sauce and be sure there are no seeds in it.)
- 1-32oz carton Broth; Use beef if you’re doing beef, chicken with ground turkey or vegetable broth if you’re making it vegetarian.
- 1 can Mild Salsa
- 1-14oz Diced Tomatos
- 1-7oz can green chile peppers, Diced, mild green chile peppers
- ⅔ cup Frozen or fresh corn* Optional; I love the fire roasted corn from Trader Joe’s
- 1 medium Yellow onion, diced; if you aren’t an onion person, just use half.
- 1 Green bell pepper, diced* Optional
- 1 medium Zucchini, chopped* Optional
- 3-4 cans Beans: Choose your favorite, or use a combination of: black beans, pinto, red beans
- 1 bunch Green onion, chopped* Optional
- 1 container Sour cream* Optional, but highly recommended
- 1 cup Shredded Cheese, Cheddar, monterey, pepper jack or a mix
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Crumble beef or turkey into the pot, stirring to break apart, and cook evenly. Add taco seasoning, coriander, oregano, tomato paste, and chipotle sauce, and mix. Continue cooking, reducing heat if necessary, until meat is well browned. (If making vegetarian, skip this step)
- Pour in broth (if you skipped step 1, add spices, tomato paste, and chipotle sauce to the broth). Add salsa, tomatoes, green chilies, and corn and simmer for ten minutes. Adjust the thickness at any time you feel necessary by adding water.
- While chili is still cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and green bell pepper, occasionally stirring, for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and bell pepper is lightly browned. Add onion and bell pepper to the chili, and continue cooking at a very low simmer.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in the same skillet. Add the zucchini, and cook, occasionally stirring, for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the zucchini to the chili, reduce the heat, and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Again, adjust the consistency with water as needed.
- Taste test! Check the flavor and add anything that you would like. Remember, it gets a LOT spicier once it sits overnight and the flavors meld and deepens. I prefer this on the second day.
- Top with sour cream, green onion, and cheddar cheese, and serve.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. If there’s a lot left over, it helps to separate it into smaller containers so it can cool faster.
Eat or freeze within four days.