Ultimate Three-Bean Beef Chili

Whether you're feeding a crowd on game day or looking for an easy meal that translates into luscious leftovers, my Ultimate Three-Bean Beef Chili is a guaranteed touch down.  Made with pantry staples and easy-to-find spices, it won't deflate your grocery budget.

Chili: if it doesn't contain both beans and beef, is the dish truly worthy of the title?  I think not - and at least Wikipedia agrees with me.  Chili, after all, is short for chili con carne.

Here's where there's room for negotiation: texture.  Do you like it super-duper thick and chunky?  Then read on.  This Ultimate Three-Bean Beef Chili is anything but saucy or soupy.  Sure, you could top a hot dog or baked potato with a spoonful, but this is the kind of chili that eats like a meal.

A word on beef choices: I personally use 80/20 for just about every recipe that calls for ground beef.  It's often on sale, allowing for great bulk savings.  Making burgers?  80/20 has the right amount of fat for juicy, pub-worthy patties.  Same goes for meatballs - bake them on a broiler pan and some of the fat will cook off and essentially be drained.  When browning ground beef for a recipe like chili or meat sauce, blotting with paper towels and rinsing with hot water will reduce fat content by 65% (reducing fat content from 15g to 5g for a 3 oz. serving). Source: USDA nutrient database

If blotting AND rinsing seems like too much of a chore, take my shortcut: after browning 80/20, strain beef through a colander, tossing to shake out the excess liquid.  I'm not a fat-phobe, but reducing the saturated fat content of the beef gives more wiggle room for tasty toppings.  Hello, cheese.  

Badia: easy to find, high quality, and the price is right. Not sponsored, just pure love.

Badia: easy to find, high quality, and the price is right. Not sponsored, just pure love.

Season a lot, or season a little - just as long as you season as you go.  Layering various chili powders and cumin with the addition of each ingredient builds that deep, earthy flavor.  Store leftovers in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to four days - if you have any!

Enjoy your food.  Enjoy your life!

Ultimate Three-Bean Beef Chili



1 T. olive oil

5-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

15 oz. can black beans with liquid

15 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

15 oz. can small red beans, drained and rinsed

Two 10 oz. cans Ro-Tel, original 

6 oz. can tomato paste

80/20 ground beef, 1.5 pounds


Chipotle powder

Chili powder

Cayenne pepper



Texas Pete Hotter Hot Sauce (optional)


Heat olive oil in large cast-iron pot (4 qt or larger).  Add onion and pinch of salt and cook 1-2 minutes.  Add garlic, green pepper, and red pepper.  Stir to mix, then season with chipotle powder, chili powder, cayenne, and cumin - roughly 1/2 tsp. each to start.

Season, season, and season some more.

Season, season, and season some more.

Add beans and Ro-Tel and bring mixture to a low simmer.  Season again.

In the meantime, brown beef in large skillet.  When crumbled and lightly browned, transfer to mesh colander or strainer in sink.  Shake to drain excess moisture.  Add beef to cast-iron pot and stir to combine.  Yes, you should season again.  

Finally, add tomato paste and hot sauce, if using.  Mixture will be very thick.  Be patient and gently combine tomato paste into mixture.  Allow to simmer over a low heat for a half hour or so, stirring occasionally.

Serve with shredded cheese, plain Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream), sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, or whatever else your heart desires.  

Gimmee dat cheese, baby!!!

Gimmee dat cheese, baby!!!