Before we get started.

One - yeah, I know, "a proper chili doesn't have beans". Or tomatoes.

My memories of Texas being from before Kindergarten, and decades ago, I'll stick with what I learned. Also - as food gets more expensive, having some beans/etc. to stretch the dish helps a lot.

Second, as you likely noticed before, I don't do the long story of how much whichever recipe means to me, etc. - I hate looking up recipes on pages like that.

Third - I like to give a baseline for you to do your own thing, not a set-in-stone recipe.

Let's get started.


  • 2 onions

  • 5-8 cloves of garlic (more to taste)

  • 2 tablespoons of oil (for browning)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 2 lbs beef. Ground, or cut/broken up into small chunks. A great way to use up leftover steak.

  • 2 32oz cans crushed / diced tomatoes. I usually use one of each

  • 1.5 lbs dried beans (kidney or pinto as the base beans, with some of the other, or black beans, to finish out the 1.5 lbs) - don’t forget to soak them overnight or quick-soak them in boiling water for 20 min

  • 3-4 cups of water

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup chili powder

  • 1 Tbsp salt

  • 2 tbsp cumin

Yes, I list salt/cumin twice. The first time is to mix in with the onions and beef for a little early seasoning before the rest of the ingredients are added.

Where for spaghetti sauce I like to use crushed/paste, here I like some chunks, but still want some crushed tomatoes to thicken the sauce faster. Also - adding a tablespoon or two of flour/corn starch mixed into the watercan help thicken the chili faster.

I like to use roughly 1lb of kidney or pinto beans, and 1/2 lb of black beans, dried. You can use less, but unless you have a very large pot, you can't really use more - and may need to cut this down if you want to add bell peppers, or other things that take up room.

Don't forget to soak the beans overnight. Otherwise, you can boil enough water to vover the beans and pour over them to soak for 20-30 minutes, but you may need more cooking time to get the beans tender.

The chili powder is really to taste. Get a decent brand, Badia makes a good one. Since I usually don't crock-pot the recipe, I instead opt for half the amount of chili powder, adding garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and cayenne to taste, along with any other hot peppers.

Speaking of hot peppers - depending on who you're serving to, you might need to cut down on what you're cooking in, and add any personally desired heat after the fact.

As always - this is a baseline, adjust to taste.


Heat oil in pot at medium-low heat (3-4), and sautee onions for 1 minute, add garlic.  Sauté another 3 minutes. You can always sautee longer, but this will simmer long enough to make everything soft. This is also where you'd add most peppers, along with the onions.

Add  the 1 Teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cumin
Add beef.
Lightly brown beef. Make sure it is broken up, if ground.

At this point, if you want, you can transfer things to a crock pot and add the remaining beans/tomatoes/additional seasonings. Set cooking heat appropriate to time (4-8 hours often) for crock pot. Stir - and leave alone.

Add beans and tomatoes. Mix.

Add 3-4 cups water - enough to ensure beans are covered. If cooking stovetop, you may need to top this off occasionally, depending on how much moisture escapes or how much the beans absorb of not fully soaked.

Add remaining seasonings and stir.

If cooktop stock pot cooking, stir regularly to prevent burning to the bottom of the pot. It's done when everything has had a chance to simmer at least an hour, and the beans are fully soft. Serve with your choice of rice, cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, etc.

If refrigerated overnight, it tastes even better.