Best Thick Chili

5 from 1 vote

This thick chili recipe is the best way to spice up game night with friends. Not only is this hearty dish packed with flavor, but it’s also super simple to make and easy to customize the way you like it.

thick chili

Chili is one of my favorite dishes to serve for a football party or potluck.

Both of which are usually served buffet-style.

And that means more spills than usual.

So that’s where this thick chili recipe comes in handy.

It’s easy to make and easy to serve. Especially when people are helping themselves.

It also tastes better when it’s made the day before (which gives the flavors more time to meld).

And can be served in a crock pot to keep it warm.

The perfect party food!

Ingredients

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thick chili ingredients - ground beef, crushed tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, red beans, tomato paste, beef stock, oil, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder
  • meat: 1 pound ground beef
  • vegetables: 1 cooking onion, 1 green bell pepper
  • oil: 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • spices: 1½ Tablespoons chili powder, 1½ teaspoons garlic salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • canned goods: 3 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans, 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • flavoring: ½ cup beef broth
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, sliced jalapeno, minced parsley, tortilla strips, shredded cheese

Substitutions

  • You can use ground turkey or chicken instead of the beef if you prefer.
  • Add a couple of jalapeno peppers if you like spicier chili.
  • For some variety, add pinto, great northern, kidney, or black beans. Just replace one of the three cans of red beans with any of these options.
  • 28 ounces (or two 14 ounce cans) of diced tomatoes can be used instead of crushed tomatoes.
  • To use fresh chopped tomatoes, you will need 4 cups (about 10 to 12 tomatoes). You will also need to add an extra 1 to 2 cups of water, depending on how thick you want your chili.
  • You can replace beef broth with chicken or vegetable broth.

How to make thick chili

thick chili on a spoon over a bowl

Prep work

Dice the onion and green pepper (after removing the core and seeds).

Cook the meat

browned ground beef and green bell pepper in a dutch oven

In a dutch oven or large pot, heat 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil over medium high heat.

Add the chopped onion and green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the ground beef and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink inside.

Drain any excess grease.

Add the spices

Ground beef, bell peppers and chili spices in a dutch oven

Stir in 1½ Tablespoons chili powder, 1½ teaspoons garlic salt and 1 teaspoon onion powder.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and beans

beans and tomatoes on top of browned ground beef and bell peppers in a dutch oven

Without draining them, add in the red beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and beef broth.

Stir everything together until well mixed.

Simmer

thick chili in a dutch oven

Bring to a boil.

Then turn the heat down to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

The longer you leave it to simmer, the more the flavors meld and the thicker the chili will be.

Serve

thick chili in a white bowl topped with jalapeno peppers, sour cream and grated cheese

Chili can be served on its own with bread.

Or topped with sour cream, sliced jalapeno, minced parsley, tortilla strips, and/or shredded cheese.

For parties, I like to put the chili in a slow cooker to keep it warm.

A spoon in a bowl of thick chili

Storage

Leftover chili can be stored in an airtight container (or the pot with a lid on) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Warm it up in the microwave or over medium heat on the stovetop.

For longer term storage, freeze in airtight containers for 3 to 4 months. I like to store it in serving-sized portions so I can take out exactly how much I need.

Thaw in the microwave or overnight in the refrigerator before re-heating.

Frequently asked questions

How do you thicken chili?

The best way to thicken chili is to let it simmer on low heat for a longer period of time. Some people like to add cornstarch or flour, but I don’t like the texture of chili that has been artificially thickened like that.

Can you freeze chili?

Absolutely! Put it in air-tight containers and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave before re-heating.

Other recipes you might like

thick chili in a bowl garnished with jalapeno peppers, sour cream and grated cheese

Best Thick Chili

This thick chili recipe is a hearty dish that's easy to make and perfect for serving at potlucks or buffet-style parties.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 8 bowls
Calories 352 kcal

Equipment

  • Chopping knife
  • dutch oven or other large pot

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cooking onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Tablespoons chili powder
  • teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • Optional toppings: Sour cream, sliced jalapeno, minced parsley, tortilla strips, shredded cheese

Instructions
 

  • In a dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat, heat 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil.
  • Add chopped onion and green bell pepper, and cook. stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until longer pink.
  • Drain any excess grease.
  • Then season the beef with chili powder, garlic salt, and onion powder.
  • Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add in the red beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and beef broth.
  • Stir everything together until well mixed.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Then turn the heat down to low and cook for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve warm with optional toppings such as sour cream, sliced jalapeno, minced parsley, tortilla strips, and/or shredded cheese.

Notes

  • Substitute ground turkey or ground chicken for the beef if preferred.
  • Similarly, you can use vegetable broth or chicken broth instead of the beef broth.
  • The longer you let the chili simmer, the more the flavors meld and the thicker it will get.
  • Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 bowl | Calories: 352 kcal | Carbohydrates: 38 g | Protein: 21 g | Fat: 14 g | Saturated Fat: 5 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 40 mg | Sodium: 1263 mg | Potassium: 1160 mg | Fiber: 12 g | Sugar: 11 g | Vitamin A: 1038 IU | Vitamin C: 28 mg | Calcium: 110 mg | Iron: 5 mg

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

authorWanda Simone
courseMain Course
cuisineAmerican
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Have comments or questions about our thick chili recipe? Tell us in the section below.

This post was originally published on January 29, 2023 but was updated with new content on December 17, 2023.


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