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How to Make Chili

Red Bean Chili
Everyone should know how to make chili! We’ll show you how, whether you’re a novice or an old hand looking for new ideas. Cooking tips, recipes and more.

Everyone should know how to make a good chili—any kind of chili. With beans or without, made with meat lovers in mind or for inclusion in a vegetarian feast. We’ve got all kinds of chili recipes for you to try here and if you’re a novice, no worries. Learning how to cook chili couldn’t be easier, and once you’ve learned, you’ve got the ideal comfort food dish for any occasion, from a make-ahead dinner to a festive pre-game party menu suitable for tailgating.

How to Cook Chili for Meat Lovers

When you’re cooking chili con carne, the meat is braised in the slow-simmering liquid in the pot. You can cook it in a large Dutch oven or soup pot, or choose a slow-cooker recipe. Chili-making is a great way to use inexpensive, tougher cuts of meat, but you can use any meat you like—from chuck roast and chicken to Italian sausage and leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Ground beef is one of the most popular options; if you want to add chili to your list of favorite ground beef recipes, be sure to take a look at this article on how to cook ground beef. As with other slow-cooker recipes, you may want to brown the meat before adding it to the pot: It’s a great way to give a flavor boost to the final dish.

How to Cook Chili: Beans, Vegetables & Beyond

You may have heard that there’s a raging debate about whether beans belong in chili. Certainly no recipe that calls itself Texas chili will have beans in it, and there are other regional differences regarding vegetables and spices. That said, any chili you make is all yours and you’re free to put pretty much anything you like in it! You’ll find recipes including everything from corn and bell peppers to chili peppers (of course) and herbs like cilantro. Check our Seasonal Produce center to see what’s in season now for inspiration.

How to Serve Chili

Chili can be enjoyed all by itself with a slice of your favorite crusty bread to soak up every last drop. It’s especially good with cornbread, and it’s great topped with shredded cheese and sour cream. In addition to being a great big-batch recipe to feed a crowd, chili has this going for it: It makes for fabulous leftovers! In fact, like many stews, it often tastes better the day after, when the flavors have married. Serve it on top of hot dogs and voila!—you’ve got chili dogs. Or serve it with tortilla chips, salsa and sour cream to make nachos. If you serve chili on top of spaghetti, you can call it "Cincinnati-style chili two-way." Add some cheese to that bowl and you turn it into "Cincinnati-style chili three-way." Adding a sprinkle of onions on top of that makes it a bowl "four-way." Whichever way you have it, it’s chili, and it’s good.