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Classic Chili For One

This hearty classic chili recipe is loaded with flavorful ground beef, vegetables, red beans, and spices. It can be ready in just 30 minutes and is perfect for a busy weeknight. Consider topping your bowl of chili with sour cream, chopped jalapeños, shredded cheese, and chopped cilantro.

a white bowl filled with chili topped with shredded cheddar cheese.

This classic chili recipe is one of my favorite easy recipes, it's filled with flavor and comes together quickly. Our single serving chili recipe includes ground beef, kidney beans, tomatoes, and spices.

We recommend serving a hot bowl of beef chili with homemade tortilla chips or a small batch of cornbread.

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Why This Recipe Works

  • It's an easy recipe. With just 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes of cooking time, this beef chili can be ready in just 30 minutes!
  • If you don't want to use ground beef, the chili can be made with ground turkey, ground chicken or ground pork instead.
  • The recipe is easily customizable. Feel free to add other vegetables to your chili. A few of my favorite vegetable add-ins include chopped zucchini, swiss chard, spinach, and corn.

Ingredients

See recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

ingredients to make chili on a wooden cutting board labeled.

Ingredient Notes

  • Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil in this chili recipe as well as in every other recipe on One Dish Kitchen that calls for olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed form of olive oil. It is an unrefined oil and the highest-quality olive oil you can buy. Because of the way extra virgin olive oil is made, it retains more true olive taste. It also contains more of the vitamins and minerals found in olives. It's my favorite type of olive oil to use but you may use a lighter olive oil instead.
  • Onions and garlic: These ingredients add so much flavor. Don't be tempted to just toss these vegetables into the chili, they need to be cooked. Cooking brings out the flavor. Cook the onions until they are translucent, about 2 minutes and then add in minced garlic to cook a minute longer.
  • Ground beef: I love using ground beef in my beef chili recipe but you could also use ground turkey to lighten up the dish. Be sure to brown the meat in the skillet before adding the beans and tomatoes.
  • Chili powder, ground cumin, and dried basil: Spices are necessary and add an incredible amount of flavor. Although we recommend using the amounts shown in this recipe, feel free to add additional amounts if you feel it necessary.
  • Red beans: I use canned beans because of their convenience. Red kidney beans are most commonly found in classic chili recipes because they are hearty, meaty, and they retain their shape in chili. You can use pinto beans or black beans instead of red beans in your version. We recommend using 1/4 cup of beans, see below for ways to use up any leftover beans you might have.
  • Canned diced tomatoes: I use canned tomatoes (14.5 to 15-ounce can) but you can also use fresh tomatoes in your chili if you prefer. You can substitute 2 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes for the canned. If you don't want to use tomatoes, you can use roasted red peppers which will be a sweeter substitution.

How To Make This Recipe

  1. Cook onions and garlic in a medium-sized skillet until softened, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef to the skillet and cook until no longer pink, 8 minutes.
  3. Add the spices, beans, and tomatoes, then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour into a bowl and enjoy.
four photos showing how to make chili with onions, ground beef, and tomatoes.

Expert Tips

  • The spices used in this fast chili recipe are chili powder, cumin, and basil. You could use a teaspoon of homemade taco seasoning instead, if preferred.
  • Although this recipe calls for using red beans, you can use any beans that you have or a mixture of several kinds.
  • This chili is seasoned perfectly for my tastes but you can increase or reduce the spice level to your liking. For example, you might consider adding chopped jalapeños or a dash or two of hot pepper sauce.
  • If you want a vegetarian chili, crumble extra firm tofu in place of the ground beef and add black beans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Freeze Chili?

Yes, you can. Chili freezes beautifully. Just place it in an airtight container or freezer bag and keep it in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy it. Let the chili thaw in the refrigerator overnight and heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. Chili can be frozen for up to 3 months.

What Are The Best Toppings For Chili?
So many options, here are a few of my favorite toppings:

* Sour cream
* Red onions
* Chopped cilantro
* Avocado slices
* Crushed corn chips

Can I Make This Chili Without Beans?

You can, although I love them I realize some people do not care for beans in their chili recipe. No problem, you can leave the beans out completely.

Can I Make This Recipe In My Slow Cooker?

Yes! Beef chili made in the slow cooker is absolutely delicious and mostly hands-off cooking too. Here are my tips for making slow cooker beef chili:
* I recommend browning the ground beef on the stove before adding it to the slow cooker. If you don't, the texture of the meat is often a little "off" and the dish ends up being overly fatty.
* I also recommend cooking the onions and garlic on the stove because it gives them a better flavor and texture. Precooking these vegetables isn't absolutely necessary and skip it if you're strapped for time, but I like the flavor when I do.
* Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4 hours.
* For best results, use a 1.5 to 2-quart slow cooker.

RELATED: Simple Canned Bean Recipes

a spoon scooping up chili with tomatoes and shredded cheese.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients left over from this easy chili recipe, you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

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a white bowl filled with beef chili and topped with jalapeños and cheese.

Classic Chili For One

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Diet: Diabetic, Gluten Free, Low Calorie
Keywords: beef chili, fast chili recipe, how to make chili
Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 444kcal
Author: Joanie Zisk

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup peeled and chopped yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 4 ounces ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup canned red beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce)can diced tomatoes , including juice
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil

Instructions

  • In a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, heat oil 30 seconds. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook an additional 1 minute.
  • Add ground beef to skillet and break up with a spatula. Stir occasionally and cook until no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  • Add salt, chili powder, and cumin; stir another 10 seconds.
  • Add beans, tomatoes, and basil, then bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer on low heat and cook 10 minutes.
  • Spoon chili into a bowl and enjoy hot.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • The main spices used in this recipe are chili powder and cumin. You could use homemade taco seasoning instead, if preferred.
  • Although this recipe calls for using red beans, you can use any beans that you have or a mixture of several kinds.
  • This chili is seasoned perfectly for my tastes but you can increase or reduce the spice level to your liking. For example, you might consider adding chopped jalapeños or a dash or two of hot pepper sauce.
  • If you want a vegetarian chili, crumble extra firm tofu in place of the ground beef and add black beans.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 444kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 1420mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 148IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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