This Dutch Oven Chili recipe is perfect for a quick, easy weeknight dinner. Loaded with ground beef, beans, and vegetables, this hearty and satisfying one-pot chili comes together in under an hour on the stovetop. Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and chives for the ultimate comfort food meal.
Chili is classic American comfort food at its finest. Warm, hearty, and flavorful, you can find many different versions of chili all across the United States.
Depending on where you're from, you might consider chili to be a strictly beef and chili pepper dish with no beans or tomatoes in sight. Other regions use beef and beans, but no tomatoes or serve their chili over spaghetti.
I always make my chili in a Dutch oven using ground beef, beans, and tomatoes. Usually, I simmer it low and slow for at least an hour on the stovetop. The ground beef becomes super tender while the beans and tomatoes break down into a thick and flavorful stew sauce.
This stovetop chili is the perfect recipe for a chilly October evening when all you want to do is cuddle up on the couch in a warm, cozy blanket and watch Halloween movies.
>> Need a side dish? Try pairing this cast iron chili with my delicious Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- One-Pot- Cast iron Dutch oven chili is made by layering flavor on top of flavor all in one pot. Not only does this make for a delicious stew, but it also means easy clean-up!
- Flavorful- Bold, spicy seasonings. Ripe, juicy tomatoes. Fresh, delicious vegetables. Every bite of this homemade chili is jam-packed with flavor.
- Satisfying- Two pounds of ground beef and two cans of beans make for a hearty, homestyle chili. This chili is rich, filling, and perfect for a cool and cozy fall evening.
- Ready in One Hour- Need a quick weeknight meal? Look no further than this beef and bean chili recipe.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Ground Beef- I use 80% lean ground beef because I want a little fat in this chili to make it richer and more satisfying. Plus, cooking the dry seasonings in the beef fat helps them open up and release their flavors into the chili as it cooks. Feel free to use leaner ground beef if preferred.
- Beans- This recipe uses both black beans and kidney beans. Drain and rinse them prior to adding them to the chili.
- Stewed Tomatoes- Tomatoes make up the majority of the chili sauce. The stewed tomatoes cook down and make the best chunky, hearty chili.
- Jalapeño- Perfect for adding a little kick to the chili.
- Bell Peppers- Red bell pepper and green bell pepper add flavor, color, and texture to the chili.
- Yellow Onion- Adds flavor.
- Garlic- Adds a pungent garlic flavor.
- Seasonings- Instead of using a packet of chili seasoning, I opt to use individual spices. They include chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Canola Oil- A neutral-flavored oil.
Fresh Tip: Nothing is more rewarding than growing your own produce. Try growing bell peppers and jalapeño peppers in your garden next summer and make a batch of this Dutch oven beef chili with your very own harvest.
Here are some notes on any special equipment I used to make this recipe.
- Dutch Oven- A cast iron Dutch oven is an excellent choice for cooking chili because it distributes heat evenly, retains moisture, is versatile, and has a large capacity. I used my Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Dutch Oven for this recipe.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this Dutch oven chili on the stove.
Step 1: Sauté the aromatics. Heat the canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the onion, jalapeño, and garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown.
Step 2: Brown the ground beef. Add the ground beef to the pot and cook, breaking it up into bite-sized chunks with a wooden spoon. As it cooks, the ground beef will render out some fat and water. Keep cooking the ground beef until it is fully browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Mix the spices thoroughly with the ground beef until the beef is well coated and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Step 3: Add remaining ingredients and simmer. Reduce heat to low and pour in the stewed tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, and chopped bell peppers. Mix well to evenly disburse all of the ingredients and bring the chili to a gentle simmer. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and simmer for about 25 minutes.
Step 4: Reduce and serve. Once the bell peppers and tomatoes have softened, removed the lid and begin to break up the stewed tomatoes and some of the beans with your wooden spoon. The beans will release their starches, thickening the chili. Simmer the chili, uncovered, for an additional 5-10 minutes or until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve with tortilla chips and toppings of choice.
Tips for Success
- Use your own spice blend. Many of those chili seasoning spice packets contain thickening agents, such as flour or cornstarch, and added sugars, which are ingredients I don't necessarily want in my chili. I recommend buying individual spices so you can have better control over the flavor of your chili.
- Don't drain the beef. I know, I know. A lot of liquid comes out of the beef as it cooks. But it's not all fat. If you let most of the liquid evaporate off, you're left with delicious beef fat that is perfect for making a rich, flavorful chili.
- No need for added thickeners. Some recipes call for adding tomato paste, flour, or cornstarch to thicken the chili. However, if you add beans to your chili, there's no need for any additional thickening agents. Just crush some of the beans with the back of your wooden spoon and they'll naturally thicken the chili as it reduces.
- Simmer longer for a more flavorful chili. Chili is one of those dishes that tastes better the more time it has to simmer on the stovetop. The longer you let this chili bubble away, the more the ingredients and flavors have time to meld together.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can customize this homemade Dutch oven chili recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Ground Beef- Leaner ground beef, cubed beef chuck, ground turkey, ground chicken, soy crumbles, lentils, or quinoa can be used in place of ground beef.
- Beans- Swap the beans in this recipe for any beans you prefer. Try pinto beans, white beans, or brown lentils.
- Stewed Tomatoes- If you're not a fan of chunky chili, try using diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce in place of the stewed tomatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes would add a nice, smoky flavor.
- Jalapeño- Replace the jalapeño with green bell pepper, poblano pepper, chipotle pepper, or habanero pepper.
- Bell Peppers- Use all green bell peppers or all red bell peppers. Alternatively, swap bell peppers for poblano peppers, zucchini, or more stewed tomatoes. Alternatively, swap bell peppers for poblano peppers, zucchini, or more stewed tomatoes.
- Onion- A tablespoon of onion powder can be used in place of the large yellow onion.
- Garlic- Use ¾ teaspoon of garlic powder to replace 3 cloves of garlic. Alternatively, use garlic-infused olive oil in place of the garlic and canola oil.
- Seasonings- Use a packet of chili seasoning in place of the individual seasonings, if preferred.
- Canola Oil- Any neutral-flavored, high-heat oil can be used in this recipe. Try olive oil, avocado oil, or sunflower oil.
- Vegan- To make a vegan version of this recipe, replace the ground beef with either 4 cups of cooked brown lentils (about 2 cups uncooked) or 4 cups of cooked quinoa (about 1 ½ cups uncooked). This Dutch oven chili recipe is already naturally dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free.
- Spicy- Bump up the amount of cayenne pepper or replace the jalapeños with habanero peppers.
- Mild- Leave out the cayenne pepper and jalapeños entirely to make a mild version of this chili recipe.
- Smoky- Add a diced chipotle pepper and a few teaspoons of adobo sauce.
- Vegetables- Toss in some extra veggies! Zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, carrots, celery, corn, and spinach would all work well in this Dutch oven chili.
What to Serve with Dutch Oven Chili
Half the fun of eating homemade chili is all of the toppings and side dishes that go with it! Topping chili with a dollop of sour cream, some shredded cheddar cheese, and a sprinkle of scallions is classic. Oh, and don't forget a warm, buttery piece of cornbread on the side.
Here are a few suggestions for what to serve with this Dutch oven chili with beans:
- Cheddar Cheese
- Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt
- Cilantro Garlic Sauce
- Guacamole or Diced Avocado
- Fresh or Pickled Jalapeño Slices
- Roasted Corn
- Tortilla Strips
- Green Onions (Scallions)
- Sliced Olives
- Hot Sauce or Salsa
- Lime Wedges
- Tortilla Chips
- Mexican Rice
- Baked Potatoes
- French Fries or Onion Ring
- Corn on the Cob
- Spaghetti (Cincinnati-Style)
- Quesadillas or Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Hot Dogs (for Chili Dogs)
- Garden Salad or Taco Salad
Storage and Reheating
Dutch oven chili con carne is the perfect make-ahead recipe because it reheats easily and is freezer-friendly. Whether you're making a big batch of homemade chili for your weekly meal prep or for a game day party, you have several options when it comes to storing and reheating this stovetop Dutch oven chili.
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store any leftover chili in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Freezer- For longer storage, place the chili in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container for up to 6 months. I like to portion leftover chili into individual or meal-sized servings for easier defrosting.
How to Reheat
Thaw frozen chili in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. If you're short on time, run the container of chili under cold water until the chili can be popped out. Then, reheat the chili using one of the following methods.
- Stovetop- Place the chili in a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until simmering. If necessary, add a splash of water to help loosen the chili and keep it from drying out.
- Microwave- Place chili in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a splash of water and cover the bowl with a lid or a damp paper towel to keep it from splattering. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir. Continue microwaving in 30-second intervals until warmed through, stirring between intervals.
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 350°F and spread the chili out into an oven-safe baking dish, drizzling with a little water if it seems dry. Cover the dish tightly with foil and heat the chili for 20-30 minutes or until fully warmed through.
Helpful Tip: Trying to keep this chili warm for a game day party or holiday gathering? Place the chili in a slow cooker and set it to "keep warm."
How to Use Up Leftover Chili
Don’t throw it out! Leftover chili can be used in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas for how to use up leftover Dutch oven chili:
- Cheese Fries with Chili
- Chili-Topped Hot Dogs
- Chili Macaroni and Cheese
- Baked Potato Topping
- Chili Omelette
- Quesadilla or Burrito Filling
- Nacho Topping
- Burger Topping
- Chili Stuffed Peppers
Frequently Asked Questions
If you don't have a Dutch oven, don't sweat it! You can make this recipe using a heavy-bottomed stainless steel deep skillet or pot instead.
Yes, you can make this recipe in a slow cooker, if you prefer. You'll want to brown the onion, jalapeño, garlic, and ground beef in a skillet, then transfer it all to a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
Both slow cookers and Dutch ovens cook chili well. However, I am partial to using a Dutch oven. Cooking chili in a Dutch oven allows us to build layers of flavor, which results in a more delicious chili.
Absolutely! Chili is an excellent recipe to make a double batch of and store in the freezer for when you don't feel like cooking. It's also great to make for a crowd. Chili is always a hit at football parties, Halloween parties, or even on Christmas Eve.
Have some leftover chili you don't know what to do with? Use it as a topping for nachos, baked potatoes, hot dogs, hamburgers, or macaroni and cheese. It also makes a fantastic filling for tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.
More Dutch Oven Recipes
Dutch Oven Chili
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1-2 jalapeños sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pounds ground beef 80% lean
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- ½ tablespoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
- 1 15.5-ounce can low-sodium black beans drained, rinsed
- 1 15.5-ounce can low-sodium kidney beans drained, rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- Heat canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the onion, jalapeño, and garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown.1 tablespoon canola oil, 1 medium yellow onion, 1-2 jalapeños, 3 cloves garlic
- Add the ground beef into the pot and cook, breaking it up into bite-sized chunks with a wooden spoon. As it cooks, the ground beef will render out some fat and water. Keep cooking the ground beef until it is fully browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Mix the spices thoroughly with the ground beef until the beef is well coated and cook for an additional 2 minutes.2 pounds ground beef, 2 tablespoons chili powder, ½ tablespoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Reduce the heat to low and pour in the stewed tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, and chopped bell peppers. Mix well to evenly disburse all of the ingredients and bring the chili to a gentle simmer. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and simmer for about 25 minutes.1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes, 1 15.5-ounce can low-sodium black beans, 1 15.5-ounce can low-sodium kidney beans, 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper
- Once the bell peppers and tomatoes have softened, removed the lid and begin to break up the stewed tomatoes and some of the beans with your wooden spoon. The beans will release their starches, thickening the chili. Simmer the chili, uncovered, for an additional 5-10 minutes or until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve with tortilla chips and toppings of choice.
- Storage: Store leftover chili in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
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