This delicious, super easy chili recipe is a cinch to remember – it’s just ONE of everything! (Skip straight to recipe.)
Cooking with Meredith
Do you wanna know a secret?
It’s the secret recipe for this chili! (Shhhhh . . . hint . . . just remember the number one.)
It’s an easy chili to make.
It’s tummy-rubbing yummy and kid-approved!
But it’s so good, adults love it, too. It’s our family favourite and it’s THE EASIEST CHILI RECIPE EVER.
This super easy, Number One Chili is deliciously zesty and full of flavour, but not too spicy for kids’ palates. You can pass the hot sauce at the table if anyone wants to amp up the heat.
It’s wonderful just as it is, or served over cooked rice. But it’s even more fun to eat if you pile on some toppings. I like a dollop of sour cream, some chopped red onions, diced avocado, and fresh cilantro. Meredith chose just shredded cheese and cilantro, and polished off the whole lip-smacking bowl.
Another secret that Meredith and I will share with you (again, shhhh, don’t tell): when you cook a recipe with tomato sauce, just a little pinch of sugar enhances the natural sweetness of tomatoes. If you could use sweet, deep-red, sun-ripened tomatoes straight from the garden, you wouldn’t need to add any sugar since the tomatoes would have lots of natural sugars in them, but when using canned or store-bought tomatoes, a bit of sugar brings out the flavours. You could use coconut sugar or honey instead, if you wish. It’ll be our cook’s secret.
(Trick for remembering the recipe without looking: there’s 1 pound of meat and 1 tablespoon oil, 3 cans of things, 4 fresh veggies, and 5 spices or flavourings.)
So if you want a great basic chili recipe, here it is. Enjoy.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: You can use any other kind of ground meat in this recipe, like ground bison or ground turkey.
Any type of canned beans can be substituted, like black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, or small white beans. Or, instead of canned beans, you can use 2 cups of cooked beans.
Instead of fresh garlic, you can use ½ teaspoon garlic powder.
Instead of canned diced tomatoes, you can use 2 cups of packed, diced fresh tomatoes.
Instead of canned tomato sauce, you can use homemade tomato sauce, or use 1 small can of tomato paste and about 1¼ cups of water.
The chili powder used in this recipe is the mild spice mix available in most grocery stores that is made for cooking chili dishes (not the pure ground chili peppers – that would be wayyyy too spicy!). The no-name brand of chili powder we used contains chili pepper, cumin, coriander, salt, oregano, dehydrated garlic, and cloves. Use whatever brand is your favourite. Or make up this easy and wonderfully delicious Homemade Chili Powder mix from spices you’ve probably got in your cupboards right now.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 carrot
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 lb. (454gms) lean ground beef
- 1 can (400ml/14 oz) red kidney beans (or any other beans)
- 1 can (400ml/14 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (400ml/14 oz) tomato sauce
Before you start, prepare your vegetables: Peel the onion. Cut it in half lengthwise, then make cuts lengthwise into each half, about ¼ inch (.5cm) apart, but not quite through to the root end. Hold the slices firmly together and slice it crosswise to dice the onion.
Wash the carrot and celery and trim off the ends. No need to peel the carrot. Cut the carrot in half, then cut each half into quarters lengthwise. Slice the long pieces across to dice the carrot into small pieces.
Cut the celery into 3 or 4 long strips, then cut the strips crosswise into diced pieces. Peel the garlic and mince it (chop it into tiny pieces).
Open all the cans with a can opener. (Don’t drain the beans or tomatoes.)
In a heavy bottomed small dutch oven, a large saucepan, or a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook it for about 5 minutes, stirring it often, until the onion pieces look kind of clear.
Add the minced garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, sugar, and salt, and stir until the vegetables are all coated with the spices. Cook the spiced vegetables for one more minute, stirring constantly. This helps bring out the flavour in the spices.
Add the ground meat and cook it until all the meat crumbles have turned brown and are no longer pink. Use a wooden spoon to stir and break up the large chunks as the meat cooks.
Add the contents of the three cans, including the liquid from the canned beans. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all the juices from the cans into the pot of chili.
Cook the chili until you see big bubbles coming to the surface, then turn the heat to low, and cook the chili, uncovered, for about 30 minutes (½ hour), stirring it occasionally. Adjust the heat as it cooks so there are just small bubbles coming to the surface.
If the chili is too runny, cook it a little bit longer. If it’s too thick, add a little bit of water.
Serve the chili in bowls or over cooked rice. Set out little bowls of different toppings for people to sprinkle on top. Serve whichever ones of these you’d like:
- a bottle of hot sauce, for anyone who likes their chili spicier
- shredded cheese
- sour cream or yogurt
- diced avocado
- chopped red onion or sliced green onions
- chopped fresh cilantro
- crumbled corn chips
Makes about 6 cups (1.5litres) of chili, serving 4 to 6 people (depending on their appetites).
Wasn’t that the most easy chili recipe ever?
To peek at some of the other fun things Meredith and I have been stirring up, check out our ‘Cooking with Kids’ page.
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