Thursday, June 8, 2023

What is chili, really?

Bailey Woodean
Bailey Woodean
I have been a freelance writer for more than 4 years, a mom for more than 2 years, and a wife for just under a year. I am currently a student in a cooking and catering program with the intention of expanding my knowledge of the culinary business. I then plan to take this knowledge to properly write about and critique restaurants and food. Writing to you from Niagara Falls, NY, thanks for joining me on the ride!
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When I was growing up I knew chili to be a warm, hearty, and spicy comfort food that we would generally consume during the Autumn season. Having never made my family’s recipe for chili I can only assume the ingredients include several types of beans, ground beef, spices, tomatoes, and we would often top the bowl of chili with onions, cheese, and crackers. But, recently I was told that this may not be the original chili recipe and I had to find out for myself!

The Best Classic Chili Recipe

This recipe closely resembles my family’s version of chili.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion -diced
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper* -optional
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce


  1. Add olive oil to a large soup pot and place it over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the ground beef to the pot. Break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the beef, is browned, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and optional cayenne. Stir until well combined.
  4. Add the broth, diced tomatoes (with their juice), drained beans, and tomato sauce. Stir well.
  5. Bring the liquid to a low boil. Then, reduce the heat (low to medium-low) to gently simmer the chili, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat. Let the chili rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Chili pepper

While this recipe may represent the classic chili that is so widely known and loved, it is not the original Texas chili recipe. In fact, it is stated by the International Chili Society that chili is mainly made with spices, various meats, and red chili peppers. All pasta and beans are strictly prohibited.

Texas Chile Con Carne


  • 3 dried ancho chiles
  • 3 dried de árbol chiles
  • 1 dried Japonés chile
  • 3 jalapeños, stems and seeds removed (wear rubber gloves)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds sirloin tips, coarsely ground for chili
  • 1/4 cup masa
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onions for garnish (optional)


  1. To prepare the dried chiles: Wearing rubber gloves, cut each of them open and discard seeds and membranes that are easily removed. Place the chiles in a small pan with just enough water to cover them. Over medium heat, simmer the chiles and water for 15 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water, reserving the water, and transfer to a food processor.
  2. Add the jalapeños, cumin, garlic, tomatoes (with their juice), onion, oregano and salt to the food processor. Process until smooth.
  3. In a large stockpot, combine the meat and the tomato-chile purée. Add just enough water (not the reserved chile water) to cover the meat, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pot and cook for 1 1/2 hours. If necessary, add more water, just enough to keep the meat covered.
  4. After 1 1/2 hours, skim off any excess fat with a large, flat spoon and discard. Mix the masa with enough water to make a smooth paste. Slowly add the mixture to the chili while stirring. Simmer the chili over very low heat for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Taste the chili and season as necessary with salt and the reserved chile water. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and onions if desired.
C hili pepper

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