The Best Chili Recipe (2024)

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Congratulations, you’ve found the actual BEST Chili Recipe! It’s won dozens of cook-offs and is about to knock your socks off. Made with bacon (and the option to omit bacon if needed) and ground beef and simmered on the stove for just 30 minutes, this is my family’s go-to cool weather comfort food.

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Chili Cook-Off Champion!

Something savory/cozy for you today because believe it or not Fall is here, which means cold weather and hearty comfort foods like baked ziti, my favorite meatball recipe, and this best chili recipe!

This recipe is actually one that I shared last year, and since then I’ve made it probably 50 times. Not only am I completely obsessed with it, as of this writing it’s also won over two dozen Chili Cook-offs! While I’ve never entered it into a cook-off myself, so many of you who have tried this chili recipe have commented or e-mailed me that it’s taken home first place and I don’t even know how to express how happy that makes me!

So, yeah, I do feel a little bit extra proud of this chili cook-off champ recipe right here.

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Not only does it taste amazing, it’s shockingly simple to make. Basic, no-fuss ingredients and just 30 minutes of simmering yield a complex and rich flavor that’s simply unparalleled.

This best chili recipe (alternating weekly with my potato soup) is on regular dinner rotation for me as soon as the weather starts to dip below 70 degrees. It’s easy to make, incredibly filling, and the flavor is out of this world.

Let’s get started.

How to Make the Actual Best Chili Recipe

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  1. Start with bacon! Cook until crisp, remove to a paper-towel lined plate, and reserve a bit of the grease for cooking your veggies. The flavor that develops from this step elevates a great chili recipe to thebest chili recipe.
  2. Cook your onion and pepper until soft, add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add your ground beef, cook until mostly browned (but not all the way cooked through).
  4. Add all your seasonings.
  5. Stir well, cooking beef through.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients (and your bacon from step 1!), give everything a good stir, and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes and until liquid is reduced.

Tip: Make your chili even better by choosing the right toppings when you serve it! Sour cream is a must, but shredded cheddar, corn chips, sliced jalapeños, avocado, or green onions are all great choices, too!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze this chili recipe?

Yes, leftovers can be frozen in an airtight container for at least 3 months.

Can I make this in a crockpot?

Kind of. For best flavor, you will still need to follow steps 1-4 of the recipe as written, then you can transfer everything to the crockpot and heat it there (I don’t add the bacon back in until I’m ready to serve). Cook on low until ready to serve.

Can I leave out the bacon?

The bacon imparts an incredible flavor and is the secret ingredient that makes this chili the best chili recipe and an award winner. If you’re entering a cook-off, use it! However, you can leave it out if you absolutely must. Please see the notes in the recipe for instructions on making this chili bacon-free.

Can I use a different type of meat?

I most often use 90% lean ground beef but any percentage will work just fine (I’ve used all of them, but usually end up draining some grease if I use 80%). Ground turkey or chicken or really any ground meat will work here, but keep in mind the flavor will be slightly altered!

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What Goes Well with Chili?

  • Buttermilk Cornbread (a must!)
  • Homemade Biscuits
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Homemade Bread

Obviously, breadis my chili side-dishes of choice. Because this chili is so hearty and filling on its own, a slice of cornbread makes for a sufficient side for chili.

Enjoy, and make sure to check out my other easy dinner recipes!! And make sure you let me know what you think when you try this! I love hearing about the cook-offs it wins and if you really agree that it’s the all-time BEST chili recipe!

Let’s cook together! Make sure to check outthe how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!

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The Best Chili Recipe (Award Winning!)

This is the BEST Chili Recipe! Made with bacon (and the option to omit if necessary) and ground beef and simmered on the stove for just 30 minutes, this is my family's go-to cold weather comfort food. It's even better when paired with a side of buttermilk cornbread!

4.98 from 1677 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Servings: 6 servings (this recipe makes 10 cups total, so one serving is approx 1 ⅔ cup)

Calories: 611kcal

Author: Sam Merritt


  • 5 strips uncooked bacon chopped¹
  • 1 large yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 lb ground beef (455g) (I use 90% but any will work)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder²
  • 1 Tablespoon ancho chili powder²
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper³
  • 1 ¼ cup beef broth (295ml)
  • 15 oz can dark red kidney beans lightly rinsed and drained (425g)
  • 15 oz can black beans lightly rinsed and drained (425)
  • 14.5 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes undrained (411g)
  • 7- oz can fire roasted green chilis (198g)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste (66g)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Preferred toppings particularly sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and corn chips


  • Place chopped (uncooked) bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until crisp and cooked through. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate and drain all but 1 ½ Tablespoons of grease.

  • Add onion and pepper and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.

  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

  • Add beef, breaking apart with a spatula as you cook. Once meat is partially (about 50%) browned, add sugar and all spices (chili powders, paprika, cumin, onion powder, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper) and stir well.

  • Add all remaining ingredients — beef broth, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, chilis, and Worcestershire sauce — and your cooked bacon and stir well.

  • Bring to a boil and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

  • Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 30 minutes to allow flavor to really develop.

  • Serve with preferred toppings (sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and corn chips are a must!)


¹For best flavor, DO NOT OMIT THE BACON. However, as someone who spent 23 years not eating bacon I wanted to include tips for those of you who might have the same restrictions. if you wish to make this recipe without bacon you *can* do so by skipping the first step, heating 1 ½ Tablespoons of oil over medium heat, and then beginning from step 2. On the other hand, if you want additional bacon for garnishing, cook it now and reserve.

²You can substitute one chili powder for the other and use just traditional chili powder or just ancho chili powder, but I personally like the blend of the two.

³This gives the chili a mild spice, if you like more heat increase to ¼ teaspoon for a moderate spice. Add additional cayenne pepper at your own risk!


Serving: 1serving (not including toppings) | Calories: 611kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 1315mg | Potassium: 758mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 20mg

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.

Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @SugarSpun_Sam or tag #sugarspunrun!

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I originally shared this chili recipe 10/05/2018. Post has been updated to include more notes, a video, and more helpful information 09/11/2019.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Ciara

    Can i make this the night before and throw it in a crock pot for the next day?


    • Sam

      Hi Ciara! This will do just fine being re-warmed in a crock pot. 🙂


  2. Tom

    The Best Chili Recipe (9)
    Whoa! You aren’t kidding. This amazing! I did add some coffee and cocoa powder. It was hotter than I imagined i would be but it might have been the extra chili powder.


  3. Karie

    The Best Chili Recipe (10)
    I thought this was good. It had a good flavor. But it didn’t taste like real Texas chili to me. It needed way more spice and flavor. It also in my opinion would be better with actual chili meat which is a course or grind than regular ground beef. I didn’t change a thing, I made it exactly as written. But it tasted sort of like chili mixed with spaghetti sauce. So I poured it over noodles and put some cheese on top and ate it Cincinnati style. But I’m still looking for the perfect Texas chili… Unfortunately this was not it.


  4. Maria

    Another win at office chili competition in Dallas, TX. Thank you! 🥇


  5. Russell

    The Best Chili Recipe (11)
    I just won my chili cookoff at work against the reigning champion for the past 5 years. This recipe is absolutely amazing, flavorful, and the bacon grease and fire roasted tomatoes/green chili peppers really make all the difference. Just the right amount of heat. THANK YOU!!!


  6. Greg Coppa

    The Best Chili Recipe (12)
    Another first place finish for your chili recipe at men’s chili cook off!
    All I added was love!


  7. Sherry

    I’ve been a long time looking for the best chili recipe. I have found it and will never look again. I passed this on to several people and everyone loves it. Just the right amount of spice and flavor.


  8. Debbie

    The Best Chili Recipe (13)
    OMG! That’s it. OMG! So, so good.

    I doubled the recipe using a mixture of ground turkey and freshly made turkey sausage instead of the beef. I don’t believe it mattered much. The addition of bacon and brown sugar is brilliant. Served this at a group dinner for 6 along with all the requisite fixings. And of course corn bread too. Rave reviews all around. Thank you.


  9. Rufus Rolfalomew

    Can confirm this is the best chili recipe ever.


  10. Joe Schotta

    I had to double this recipe because who can eat only 6 servings of this chili???! Paired with buttery cornbread and all the suggested toppings it’s a home run! I added some extra spices but this is an outstanding base recipe for chili that allows you to experiment based on your spice level and individual tastes


  11. Lucy

    The Best Chili Recipe (14)
    everyone has a recipe called “best chili ever.”
    yours is the actual correctly named one.
    we all love it. of COURSE I add 1,000 more beans and double the meat- maybe extra kick too (we like to sweat while eating it)
    it’s the perfect base. again- we eat fire.
    but I follow it, I follow it HARD
    I bow down and thank The Chili Gods for sending you to me.
    much respect


  12. Karen Spence

    The Best Chili Recipe (15)
    At 71, with 3 sons and 12 grandchildren, I have found THE BEST EVER CHILI RECIPE! Look no further because THIS is it!


  13. PT

    The Best Chili Recipe (16)
    Helped me win a school chili cook off. Added in some additional spices and made the night before. Was able to get the right consistency the next morning with some chicken broth added before reheating. Thanks!


  14. Helen Schick

    What can I substitute for the fire roasted green chilies? Perhaps Chili flakes? I don’t want it too spicy.


    • Sam

      Hi Helen! I don’t have a great substitute. You will lose a bit of flavor, but I would probably just omit them. 🙂


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The Best Chili Recipe (2024)


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