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Stovetop Chili

Hearty and filling stovetop chili is the perfect dinner on blustery nights, and it goes from stove-top to table in less than an hour!

Bowl of chili with sour cream, cheese and cilantro surrounded by fried tortilla strips.

Why it works:

This easy chili recipe is done in less than one hour; perfect for busy weeknights or even weekends when you just don't feel like hovering over the stove all night. 

It uses basic pantry staple ingredients. It's very likely you already have what you need in your pantry to make this stove top chili. All the ingredients are extremely inexpensive, and can be found at any grocery store for under one dollar

You don't need that pesky chili seasoning packet! Wave bye-bye to those annoying packets. The spice mix used in this recipe is so much more flavorful--and-- it's much better for you.

The best part about this simple recipe is that it is one that the whole family goes crazy over.

You can adjust the spice level. Because this delicious chili recipe uses pantry staple spices, you can kick the heat up or down to your family's liking. Try adding in some red pepper flakes, jalapeno slices, or hot sauce if you like heat.

This is the best chili recipe to double or triple if feeding a large crowd. Just be sure to use a large pot.

Leftovers can be frozen for up to 4 months in zip lock freezer bags for an even easier dinner down the road. 

Ingredients needed

Labeled photo of all the ingredients needed to make this recipe.

Get more info on all of these ingredients in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • ground beef- you can swap out lean ground beef, lean ground chicken, or lean ground turkey to make a delicious turkey chili recipe
  • onion - you need a small onion. You can use yellow onion, red onion, or white onion.
  • garlic cloves- mince the fresh garlic
  • beef stock or beef broth - I recommend using low sodium broth or stock if possible
  • tomato paste
  • diced tomatoes - you can use canned diced tomatoes or fresh tomatoes that you have diced
  • light red kidney beans- undrained from the can
  • pinto beans- undrained from the can
  • paprika- sweet Spanish style, not smoked paprika
  • chili powder
  • cayenne pepper optional, omit for mild heat
  • ground cumin
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • brown sugar
  • salt and black pepper to taste

How to make it

This is all done in one pot, and it's helpful to use extra lean ground beef if you can, so that you don't have to drain a bunch of liquid out. If you don't have lean, that's ok though. 

Start by sautéing the ground beef, onion and garlic clove in a pot on medium high heat until the beef is browned and onions are soft (photo 1)

Add the spices, diced tomatoes, tomato paste (which is a great way to preserve fresh tomatoes), beans (undrained) and beef stock (photo 2).

How Long to Simmer Chili

Simmer everything on a medium to medium high simmer for 30-45 minutes, until thickened (photo 3)

Please note, medium high may be too high on your stove, so if it's bubbling violently, turn it down to medium or remove it from the heat earlier than the 30-45 minutes.

You can also keep simmering chili up to all day long on the lowest simmer possible, but be sure to stir it every hour or so.

Three image collage showing how to make a chili recipe in a pot.


Once the chili has cooled off to room temperature, you can transfer the stovetop chili to an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.

You can freeze the leftover chili in a freezer safe container or zip top bag, stored flatly for more space in the freezer for up to 4 months. 

Thaw the chili in the fridge overnight before reheating on the stove.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Use lean ground beef, so that you don't have to drain liquid out of the pot. Also, the more liquid you drain, the more flavor you're letting go. 
  • DO NOT drain the beans!!! This is what THICKENS THE CHILI. It's full of starch, and there's no point in draining the natural starches (thickeners) just to replace it with more starch like flour or cornstarch. That's just silly. 
  • A touch of sweetness, like the brown sugar, bumps up the flavor subtly, of an otherwise basic chili. 
  • This chili cooks quickly because the lid stays off, if you want to slow cook it (which always enhances the flavors) then simmer it on low with the lid on for up to 2 hours. 


How long should I cook chili?

The chili can cook on a high simmer with the lid off for 30-45 minutes, or up to 2 hours on a low simmer with the lid on.

How do you make chili more flavorful?

The longer that you simmer a chili, the more flavorful it will be, because it allows the spices and seasonings to develop further.

What is the best secret ingredient for chili?

The best secret ingredient for chili is a fat pinch of brown sugar. This does not make the chili very sweet, but it gives it some background sweetness to counter the acidity of the tomatoes.

Do I cover chili when cooking?

You can cover chili if you are not trying to thicken it up any further, or if it is splattering violently everywhere.

How do you fix bland chili?

Adding additional acidity in the form of tomato paste, or sweetness like brown sugar can fix bland chili almost immediately. Also try adding more salt, chili powder, sweet paprika, onion and garlic powders. Always simmer for a minimum of 10 minutes whenever you add additional ingredients.

What else can I add to my chili? 

You can add more veggies or other beans to this easy recipe. Black beans, cannellini beans or even great Northern beans would work. You can add some diced bell pepper and diced carrots to the mix as well.

What other toppings should I add? 

You can serve this classic chili recipe with any of your favorite toppings. Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions all work nicely. So people also like to serve chili with crackers, oyster crackers,  tortilla chips, or slices of avocado. 

Two bowls of chili topped with sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips on a green kitchen towel.

More cozy bowl and spoon recipes

Did you serve this chili with chips or corn bread? Crusty bread? How about toppings? Let me know in the comments; let's share ideas!

📖 Recipe

Two bowls of chili topped with sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips on a green kitchen towel.

Stove Top Chili

Thick and hearty homemade chili with ground beef and the most flavorful spice blend; ready in under one hour.
4.64 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, South western
Keyword: chili with beans, quick chili, stovetop chili
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 302kcal
Author: Erin
Cost: $1.90


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup beef stock or broth see note on salt
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes or fresh diced- 1 cup
  • 15 oz can light red kidney beans undrained
  • 15 oz can pinto beans undrained
  • 1 tablespoon paprika sweet Spanish style
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper optional, omit for mild heat
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large stockpot, sauté ground beef, onions and garlic on medium high heat until beef is browned and onions become soft.
  • Add stock, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, canned beans (don't drain) and remaining seasonings.
  • Simmer on medium-high for 30-45 minutes, uncovered, until thickened.


  1. Do not drain the beans, as that liquid is starchy, and will serve to thicken the chili, rather than adding additional thickener. 
  2. Use a lean ground beef, to avoid having to drain anything from the pot, as this will result in flavor lost.
  3. Omit cayenne pepper if your family prefers milder chili, or substitute black pepper. 
  4. Chili may be cooked quickly with the lid off for 30-45 minutes at a medium-high simmer--OR--may be simmered on low heat with lid on for up to 2 hours. 
  5. Leftovers may be frozen in freezer zip lock bags and stored for up to 4 months. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 519mg | Potassium: 941mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1049IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @TheFrozenBiscuit or tag #thefrozenbiscuit!

Recipe Rating


Saturday 26th of November 2022

Whole family loved it!


Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

This is my favorite!! Love it. Second time making it. Instead of kidney I use fitter beans. I do a full tablespoon of brown sugar it cuts the acidity of the tomatoes nicely. Never used the paprika. I add extra cayenne.

I also add a small can of green chilies.

This is sooo good and I’m grateful to have found it. Thanks for posting. 🙏


Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

Butter beans* not fitter 😂

Don Juan

Wednesday 1st of December 2021

Very Tasty


Thursday 4th of November 2021

I wonder if the author also had an inch of burned beans on the bottom of their pot? I went against my better judgement and decided to simmer on medium-high and that's exactly what happened.


Tuesday 23rd of November 2021

Hi Lewis, I'm sorry you burned your beans! No fun. I'll make a note of that because it's really something that should be kept an eye on and if medium high is too high on your stove I'll let the readers know that they might opt for medium if it seems to be the case. Really appreciate your feedback!