Food tips • recipes

Best Meat for Chili: Ground Beef & More

Written by Emily Fawcett
6 Minute Read
Published on Dec 27, 2022

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to our favorite childhood meals.

Picture this: You come inside your house, cold from a day playing outside in the snow, and the warm smell of chili simmering on the stove hits your nose. We don’t know about you, but that smell always warmed us up after a cold day — and it still does today!

Chili is an easy dish to make, but everyone feels differently about what makes a perfect bowl. What kind of beans should you use? How much cheese is too much cheese? And most importantly, what meat is the best meat for chili?

In this post, we will look at what meats are best for that hearty, warm, yummy bowl of chili and why.

Classic Chili Con Carne: A Perfect Weeknight Meal

Most of the time, a classic chili recipe involves slow-cooking multiple ingredients, including ground beef, beans, onions, tomatoes, and beef broth. Of course, we also can’t forget classic chili seasonings like cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sugar.

Classic chili con carne might be the best chili out there. The warm ground beef goes perfectly with all of those different seasonings, while the flavors of the beans (usually kidney beans) and chopped onions in its tomato base make for the perfect meal.

Chopping an onion is really the only prep needed for this dish, which makes it a quick and easy dinner after a long day at work. Here is a classic chili recipe just to show you just how easy it can be.

What You’ll Need for Ground Beef Chili

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 1/2 tbs chili powder
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz can of red kidney beans (pinto beans or black beans can substitute), drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • Cilantro to taste (optional)
  • Tortilla chips on the side


  • Heat oil in a large soup pot and cook chopped onion for five minutes.
  • Add ground beef and break it apart, cooking for another six to seven minutes.
  • Add chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and mix well.
  • Add beans, diced tomatoes, beef broth, and tomato sauce, and mix well.
  • Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, then let it rest for five to 10 minutes before serving.

  • There you have it! In only five steps — and a total prep and cook time of 47 minutes — you and your family will be devouring a delicious classic homemade chili. We recommend topping your bowl with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream and serving it with a big piece of cornbread on the side!

    What Other Meats Work Well in Chili?

    We love our tried and true chili con carne, but what else is there?

    Of course, the simplest new twist to try is picking another cut of beef to use in that same recipe! Here’s our list of other cuts of beef that taste great in the recipe we shared above:

    • Sirloin
    • Chuck roast
    • Brisket
    • Ground chuck
    • Short ribs

    Choosing one of these alternate options will affect cook time and prep time, but they are each fantastic and yummy ways to change up your chili recipe.

    Chili con carne just translates to “chili with beef,” so it’s no surprise that beef is the star of the show. Still, just because beef is the best option doesn’t mean it’s your only option! You can make chili using so many different meats, like:

    And if you don’t want to include any meat at all? Lots of veggies work wonderfully in a chili dish!

    Texas Chili: Low Carbohydrates, Big Flavor

    Speaking of other recipes, beanless Texas chili is made a bit differently than the classic chili we talked about before. Although Texas chili normally uses chuck roast, you can always pick the beef that feels right to you — whether it’s ground beef or any other option from our list above.

    What You’ll Need

    • 4 lbs of trimmed and cut into ½ inch pieces of chuck roast
    • Salt and pepper
    • 6 tbsp olive oil
    • 3 jalapenos, seeded and diced
    • 1 large diced onion
    • 5 minced cloves of garlic
    • 1 seeded and finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
    • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
    • 3 tbsp tomato paste
    • 4 cups of beef broth
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 tbsp chili powder
    • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tbsp ground cumin
    • 1 tbsp dried oregano
    • 2 tsp chipotle chili powder
    • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • ½ tsp ground cinnamon


    1. Season the cut chuck roast with salt and pepper.
    2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the meat. Remove from heat and set aside.
    3. Heat the remaining olive oil in the crockpot for 30 seconds before adding jalapenos and onions. Cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft. Make sure not to brown them.
    4. Stir in the garlic and seasonings, and cook for 30 seconds.
    5. Put the beef back into the pot along with the rest of the ingredients.
    6. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low.
    7. Simmer, uncovered, for three to 3.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more broth if it becomes too thick.
    8. Remove the bay leaves before serving plain or with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, or green onions as garnish.

    Serve with a slice of sweet jalapeno cornbread, and dig in!

    The Best Meat For Chili

    Chili is a hearty, delicious meal with rich flavor that goes great in a bowl with a side of cornbread or even over a plate of spaghetti like with Cincinnati Chili. No matter how you eat your chili, ground beef is by far the best meat for your recipe.

    Of course, any meat will be oh-so-tasty in your chili, so get cooking and give them all a try! There’s no such thing as too much chili.


    A Complete Guide to Cuts of Beef and What You Can Do With Them | The Kitchen Community

    Sweet Jalapeño Cornbread Recipe | All Recipes

    Cincinnati Chili Recipe | Simply Recipes

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