I promised this chili recipe a few months back and it’s taken me forever to get it posted - but here you go!
This isn’t your grown up chunky chili. This is kid friendly chili, hot dog chili, the kind of chili that goes down smooth and feels like the meat has melted in your mouth. This is game day chili. Rainy day chili. Snow day chili. This can be mild chili or spicy chili. Top a steaming bowl of chili with a bit of shredded cheese and sour cream, and you’ve got the key to happiness. We’ve even done this in sourdough bread bowls and it was amazing!
I made this recipe to be super kid friendly. My kids don’t like big chunks of meat, and they don’t like heat, but they do like flavor. If my picky kids love this chili - then I’ll bet yours will too.
A bonus for those of you following a low carb, keto, or grain free diet:
I’ve made a variation of this for you! Scroll all the way to the end to read the instructions for a Low Carb / Keto / Grain Free Chili. I’ve made this recipe both ways many times now, and honestly I can’t tell you which I prefer. My kids like the regular way, it’s got a bit more of a gravy/saucy consistency to it. But the low carb version is more meaty. So you decide!
I’ve played around with chili recipes for years. Many years ago when it was just the two of us, I would make a chunky chili - one with cubes of meat that simmered until they were almost falling apart, but still felt like a mouthful of meat. I still do love that style, but for a family friendly recipe I wanted to come up with something that was more like kind of old fashioned ground beef chili that you might get on a ballpark or fast food chili dog - but with better ingredients and made at home!
After trying a bunch of different variations - I think I’ve just about perfected it! This recipe comes together quick and easy - so easy that my 11 year old daughter now makes it herself from scratch. It is packed with wholesome healthy ingredients - nothing pre-processed, nothing artificial. This is the kind of recipe that you can throw together quickly and then let simmer away all day and make your house smell amazing. If I make this while my kids are at school they will notice immediately when they walk in the door - “what smells so good?”
This is the kind of chili you want to make on a rainy or snowy day. You could make this ahead and set out your slow cooker to simmer it all day while you head out for a day or skiing or playing in the snow, or after those rainy soccer saturdays.
As with all of my recipes - this one is super flexible. Feel free to make it your own by adjusting the amount of spice. My mother now makes this all the time and she likes to add a can of beans to hers at the end. If you like beans in your chili - go for it!
Below is the recipe. There are a few secret tips here that make this amazing - a lot of it is about the texture, you want your veggies to be diced very fine, so they just melt into the flavor. I use a food processor for mine, it really pulverizes everything and gets it into tiny bits.
If you really want your meat to also be in very small bits and almost melt in your mouth - add a bit of water as you are browning it. That will help if cook more evenly and makes it easier for you to really mash it around and break it apart with your spoon.
Most of the time I double this recipe. It is awesome for feeding a crowd, and it freezes great.
BONUS Keto / Low Carb Chili:
Make a low carb version by following the variation I included after the recipe card below.
How to control the spice level:
This spice here comes from the chili powder. You can really control how spicy the chili is based on the type and quantity of chili powder you use. If you get an ordinary grocery store brand of chili powder that’s not very spicy, then you can add more. If you buy a more authentic Mexican style chili powder that’s more spicy you might want to add less. I suggest you start with less, unless you know you want it spicy. Get it all mixed together and then taste and see what you think.
Game Day Chili
The kind of chili that's meant for rainy sports days in front of the TV, or piling on hot dogs - a smoother texture, not too spicy.
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 large onion
- 2 red bell peppers
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 3 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
- 1 (12 oz) can tomato sauce
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Brown the ground beef (tip: add a bit of water for faster browning and softer texture)
- Finely chop or dice veggies (use food processor or a mini chopper)
- Add chopped veggies to browned meat and cook until soft
- Add spices and mix well
- Combine tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef broth, and flour in a separate bowl, mix well so there are no lumps
- Add liquid mixture to pot
- Add mustard & honey
- Stir well to make sure everything is combined
- Simmer on low for several hours, stirring occasionally, or slow cook on low 4-6 hours
Don't feel tied to these ingredient quantities! As with all of my recipes, these ingredients are flexible. Feel free to add more or less spices, more or less meat. Add in other finely diced veggies if you want to sneak veggies in! If you want to add a little kick to it, use a dash or more of cayenne pepper. Enjoy! ~ Lisa
Low Carb (Keto, Gluten free, grain free) Variation Instructions:
Leave out the honey, tomato sauce, and flour.
Cut the beef broth quantity at least in half - just add a bit of broth as needed to get to your desired consistency.