Classic Beef and Bean Chili – Chili Con Carne

This is our favorite beef and bean chili. If you haven’t found a family favorite chili recipe, your search is over because you’re going to love this chili! This is some seriously good chili con carne – in case you’re wondering “con carne” means with meat.

chili in a bowl

Also Read: Pork & Green Bean Chili, Butternut Squash Vegetarian Chili

We’re happy to share our family’s favorite chili recipe while also sharing answering some questions that may arise as you’re making the chili. For example, do you know why you should be heating the pan BEFORE adding oil or why you even need oil at all if you’re using meat that already has fat in it?

Great questions, right! Get answers to these commonly asked questions after the recipe.

  • Why Heat the Pan Before Adding Anything?
  • Why Heat the Oil?
  • Why Use Oil at All?
  • When Should I Add Seasoning?
  • When Should I Add the Beans?
  • What’s the Best Way to Freeze Chili?

The beauty of chili is that it is completely customizable. You can add and subtract ingredients to make it just the way you like it.  If you want more heat, different type of beans, different type of meat, more or less veggies, corn, etc. no problem! Go ahead, do whatever suits you and your family.

Our version of chili includes a lot of veggies. Not only do they add flavor and nutrients but the added bulk means more chili to go around for less money than using all beef. To accommodate all the taste buds around our table, we go easy on the hot stuff in this recipe and serve hot sauce, chili flakes or homemade cayenne pepper on the side.

chili on spoon

Recipe for Classic Beef and Bean Chili

beef chili
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5 from 6 votes

Classic Beef ‘n Bean Chili

If you don't have a favourite classic beef and bean chili recipe yet – this is it!
Prep : 30 minutes
Cook : 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 carrot diced or shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms diced (10-12 mushrooms)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 can 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 can 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 can 19 oz red kidney beans
  • 1 can 14 oz navy beans or baked beans
  • ½ Tbsp brown sugar optional
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat pot or dutch oven over medium high heat for 1 minute.
  • Add oil to pan and heat for 1 minute.
  • Add ground beef but don’t stir. Sear one side until golden brown, flip and sear other side. Break up into pieces and cook until no pink remains.
  • Drain off liquid if needed.
  • Add onions, celery and carrots; cook until softened and onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add garlic and mushrooms; cook another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika and cayenne pepper; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add tomato paste and mix well.
  • Add beef stock, diced tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and gently simmer on medium to low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add beans; cook for another 15 minutes. Add brown sugar if chili is too acidic.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
  • Serve with shredded cheese on top.


Freeze any leftovers by placing in container or freezer bag. If using a freezer bag, lay flat to maximize freezer space.
For dehydrating – Omit the oil, use extra lean beef and low fat broth, remove any fat from pan after cooking – drain, pat with paper towel or even rinse with water (depending on how much fat there is). Use grated carrots, they’ll help rehydrate the beef better. If pan is dry when adding veggies, use a little bit of water to help them cook without burning, continue to cook and season as normal being sure not to add any fats. Let cool overnight in fridge and skim off any fat that may have hardened on the top. Chop into small equal sized pieces. Place one serving per tray on dehydrator, (easy way to get perfect portion sizes). Squish flat in single layer. Dehydrate at 145°F/62°C for 5-7 hours until dry and crisp.
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Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 211mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef chili, chili
beef and bean chili in bowl

Common Questions When Making Beef and Bean Chili

Why heat the pan before adding the oil?

Cast iron and stainless steel pans will produce better results when heated first. The only type of pans you should not heat without anything in them are non-stick coated pans. Judging if your pan is hot enough is a bit tricky at first. One option is to place a drop of water on the cold pan, once it has evaporated the pan is hot.

Preheating the pan will…

  • help prevent food from sticking
  • allow for nice browning

Why heat the oil first?

To get even, consistent browning and to prevent oil from simply soaking into food, recipes like this often recommend heating the oil first. You’ll know the oil is hot when you see it shimmer or when a couple of drops of water in the oil sizzle. If you see wisps of smoke, your oil is too hot, allow it to cool a little before adding food.

Preheating the oil will…

  • prevent food from sticking to the pan
  • spread the oil over the pan more easily which means you need less oil
  • provide more even browning
  • prevent a greasy taste

Do you need to use oil at all?

Unless you’re using very lean meat, adding oil to the pan is optional since the fat in the meat will melt and coat the pan.  However, it takes a minute or so for that to happen, so a small coating of oil on the pan is often recommended.

While optional, using oil with ground meat will…

  • help prevent sticking
  • brown meat more quickly and evenly

When should I add the seasoning?

By roasting your spices you’ll bring out their full aroma and flavor making your dish taste richer and fuller. But be warned, it doesn’t take very long and over roasting will lead spices to burn and taste bitter. If using ground herbs and spices, it will take less than a minute. When you add spices with liquid ingredients, you won’t get their full effect and you may need more spice to make up the difference.

When should I add the beans?

Canned beans are fully cooked and really only need to be heated through. To help keep their shape, especially if you’re going to have leftover chili that you might freeze and reheat, it’s best to add them towards the end of the cooking process.

What’s the best way to freeze beef and bean chili?

We love, love, love chili left-overs. When chili has been simmered, cooled and reheated the flavors get to fully develop and penetrate into every morsel. Chili leftovers are the best.

However, there are times when you want to freeze some chili for another time. Chili freezes very well and will last for 6 months. Here are some tips to maximize quality:

  • Cool chili completely before freezing. This helps prevent condensation which turn into ice crystals that lead to poor quality frozen food.
  • Pour cold chili into freezer container or freezer bag. If using rigid containers, leave an inch of space to allow for expansion. If using freezer bags, squeeze out most of the air and lay flat on a baking sheet. Freeze bag on the baking sheet so it freezes in a flat, room-saving shape.
frozen chili
Freeze chili in thin flat layer to save space in the freezer.
  • Choose containers that are a convenient size for how you plan to serve the chili. Single serve sizes are great for quick lunches while large containers are great for family dinners.
  • Label your container so you’ll remember what it is and if you have family members just learning to cook, include reheating instructions for them.
  • Use within 6 months.

To use frozen chili…

  • Thaw in fridge overnight or use microwave.
  • In a pot or in a microwave, heat to desired temperature and enjoy!

Well, there you have it – all our beef and bean chili making secrets! I hope they serve you well.

Looking for a beef alternative – try these:

Pork and Green Bean Chili

Butternut Squash and Bean Chili – Vegetarian Option

Now, it’s your turn to share a little about your family chili recipe.  What’s your family’s favorite type of chili? Do you like to have chili with or without corn? What kind of beans do you use? Or, are you a no bean in chili kind of family? Have you ever tried adding dark chocolate, coffee or beer in your chili recipe? Do you have a special technique or secret ingredient that makes your chili irresistible?

Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.

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