Mix-and-Match Chili

Create your own signature chili recipe using Food Network Magazine's expert formula.

Beef and Kidney Bean Chili with Ranch Dip and Fried Onions

Beef and Kidney Bean Chili with Ranch Dip and Fried Onions

1: Make the Base

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 each chopped onion and bell pepper or poblano; add 3 cloves minced garlic and/or 1 to 2 minced jalapenos. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

2: Add Seasonings

Stir in 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Add 1/4 cup chili powder (classic or ancho) and 2 teaspoons each ground cumin, coriander and dried oregano. Add one of the following, if desired, and cook, stirring, until brick red, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 chopped chipotle chile in adobo

3: Choose Your Ground Meat

Add 2 pounds ground meat to the pot (pick one kind below); season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.

  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Bison

4: Pick Your Beans

Stir two 15-ounce cans of beans or hominy into the pot. Don’t drain them — you’ll want the starchy liquid in your chili.

  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Black beans
  • Pink beans
  • White beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Hominy

5: Cook the Chili

Add three 14.5-ounce cans crushed tomatoes to the pot. Stir in 1 cup water or beer, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 3 bay leaves.

Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft and the chili has thickened, adding more water if needed, 35 to 45 minutes. During the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking, add 1 to 2 cups frozen vegetables (corn, sliced okra or chopped kale or collards), if desired.

Remove the chili from the heat and season with salt and pepper. (For extra flavor, stir in 1 teaspoon chili powder, cumin or cocoa powder, a few dashes of hot sauce or a splash of vinegar or lime juice.)

6: Add Toppings

Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with your choice of toppings.

  • Sliced radishes
  • Fried onions or tortilla chips
  • Chopped jalapenos shredded or crumbled cheese
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Chopped scallions
  • Sour cream or ranch dip


Recipe developed by Steve Jackson and Melissa Gaman for Food Network Magazine.

Photograph by Christopher Testani.

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