Hearty Chili

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Hearty Chili with Cilantro Rice and other sides

The first crisp gust of air has hit and the temperature outside is starting to drop. Fall is coming and I could not be more excited! I’m more of a fall/winter person. I don’t do well in the heat. I get cranky, sweaty, and I can’t wear my hoodies and sweaters! Now that fall is coming back, I decided to celebrate with a hearty chili. Not only am I celebrating fall coming, I am also celebrating 25 FOLLOWERS ON MY BLOG AND 130 FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM! I had let everyone vote on recipes they want to see me create, however, chili was one of the many dishes I wanted to make and I had my heart set on. The other recipe ideas I had? Couldn’t choose! Which is why I had my community choose for me. This is the first recipe out of five for the follower celebration!

I wouldn’t call this tex-mex, as that type of chili typically doesn’t use tomato products or any beans. I called it hearty because of the beans I used plus the meat, so it made it hearty and meaty. Every bite, you would get either beans, bell pepper, ground meat, or all three. The spices I used gave it so much flavor. I made my own chili seasoning rather than using an already prepared chili seasoning envelope. The prepared chili seasonings tend to have A LOT of salt. While making your own may not have a long shelf life like the prepared seasoning, it’s much better. You get to play with the seasoning a bit more, salt factor included, so you don’t overdo it.

How to thicken Chili

  • Tomato paste: Most chili recipes call for tomato paste, which thickens up the chili. I used a 6oz can of it to thicken it. If you make a smaller batch, you can use just a few tablespoons of it. If it’s not to your liking, add some more, but be sure to simmer it for a few more minutes.
  • Beans: Yes, you can use beans to thicken up the chili! Run them through a food processor or mash them.  Stir them into the soup to thicken it.  If you choose to use this method, add a little more of the spices as the beans are starchy and tend to neutralize some of the flavors.
  • Masa Harina: Add 1 tablespoon of Masa Harina (corn flour) to the soup.  This does slightly alter the texture and taste of the chili.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this, but if you want to experiment with it, then by all means go for it!
  • Simmer: This will create a thick chili, but with some of the liquid reduced

Chili isn’t just one recipe

What do I mean by that? Chili doesn’t have to be a standard red tomato base with meat, beans and tomato seasoned with a ton of spices. There’s tons of chili recipes out there! All with different variations, ingredients, and names. You can make a white broth based chili like white bean chili, or make a red based one such as Cincinnati chili. There’s so much you can do and add to make a chili recipe for yourself. Some examples of different chilis are:

  • White Bean Chili
  • Chicken Chili
  • Tex-Mex Chili
  • Chili con Carne
  • Vegetarian Chili
  • Cincinnati Chili
  • Chili Verde
  • Black Bean Chili

Chili FAQs

  • What can I pair with Chili? There’s many options to choose from. My favorites happen to be sour cream and cheese, however, there’s many more. Great options include Guacamole, sliced scallions, lime wedges, sliced chili peppers (or pickled jalapenos), salsa, crushed tortilla chips or crispy tortilla strips used for salads. You can even serve chili on a bed of rice, spread it over nachos, make it a chili quesadilla, or enchiladas! Bake some cornbread with jalapenos and cheddar cheese and mop up the excess chili with it! Possibilities are endless for this classic dish.
    • Wine Pairing: If you prefer red wines, then pairing a wine with this chili should not cause an issue. Shoot for a red that strikes a good balance between acidity and tannin content and is medium to full-bodied. Consider a Malbec, Shiraz, Tempranillo, or select Cabernet Sauvignons.
  • What do I do with leftovers? You can buy some flour tortillas and make enchiladas. Boil some rice and pour the chili over it. Make tacos out of it. Get some lasagna sheets and make a Mexican lasagna with queso blanco. Get creative with it!
  • Can’t I just use premade chili seasoning in an envelope like McCormick? Yes, you could, but think about this. Sometimes, the premade seasonings have a lot of salt and makes it very hard to control the salt and other seasonings. I prefer and recommend making your own chili seasoning, so that way you can tweak it if you need to.
    • Homemade Chili Seasoning: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Want the recipe? Click print below! Let me know how it came out for you by tagging me on Instagram (@missravenskitchen) and using #missravenskitchen! Let me know if I need to tweak anything.

Hearty Chili
Dani Marcus
Prep time
7 Min
Cook time
60 Min
Total time
1 H & 7 M
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Hearty Chili

Hearty and meaty chili filled with ground beef, beans, and tomatoes, seasoned with warm spices to create the perfect start to fall dinner.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 orange (or any color) bell pepper, chopped 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed then chopped
  • 3 serrano peppers, seeded and ribs removed (*1)
  • 1 lb ground beef, 90% lean or 80% lean
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (*2)
  • 1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bell pepper and sauce for 2 minutes, then add the onions and saute for 3 more minutes, or until the onion is translucent and slightly soft, and bell pepper is just soft. Add the garlic and serrano pepper and saute for 3 more minutes, or until garlic is aromatic. 
  2. Add the ground beef to the pot, break it up and brown for 10 minutes, or until meat is cooked through. Season the beef with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Mix the seasonings in, then add the black and kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, and water. Stir to combine, then top the chili with the bay leaves. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir often to ensure no sticking or burning. Adjust seasonings if necessary throughout the simmering process.
  3. Serve over rice, by itself, or with your toppings of choice. 


(*1) For a spicier chili, you can choose to keep the seeds and ribs. However, serrano is spicy. Be mindful of how much you use if you keep the seeds and ribs!

(*2) I did not have cayenne readily available, so I used tbsp crushed red pepper flakes

** If the chili is too thick for you, add a 1/4 cup of water at a time, but allow a longer simmer time of 5 minutes, as adding water will drop the temperature of the chili.

** If the chili is too watery for you, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste at a time, but allow a longer simmer time of 5 minutes, to ensure it thickens up to your liking.

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chili, hearty chili, meat, spicy,
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