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5 from 18 votes

Classic Chili

Classic chili with ground beef and beans flavored with smoky chipotle and ancho chiles, cumin, and cinnamon.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8


  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 16-ounce cans kidney beans drained
  • 1 12-ounce bottled Guinness
  • 2 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 1 1/2 ounces 70% dark chocolate
  • cayenne pepper to taste, see notes below

For the ground spice mixture

  • 2 dried ancho chiles stems and seeds removed
  • 2 dried chipotle chiles stems and seeds removed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder note: if not using whole dried chiles increase to 5 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup crushed tortilla chips


For the ground spice mixture

  • Remove the stems and seeds from the dried ancho and chipotle peppers. Toast the chiles in a dry pan over medium heat for 30 seconds per side or until fragrant. Remove chiles from the heat to a plate then add the chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon to the pan and toast for 1 minute stirring frequently.
  • Place the peppers along with the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and tortilla chips into a food processor. Blend until a fine powder is formed.

For the chili

  • Preheat oven to 300f and set the rack to the middle level.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven to medium heat and saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until soft (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the ground beef and saute until browned while breaking it up with a wooden spoon (about 7 minutes).
  • While the beef is cooking bloom the spice mixture. Heat a pan to medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil along with the prepared spice mixture. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until very fragrant. Once fragrant add a 1/4 cup of water to the pan.
  • Once the beef is browned add the bloomed spice mix to the beef and continue to cook for another 1 minute stirring to incorporate.
  • Add the tomato paste to the beef and cook for 3 minutes stirring well to combine. Next, add the salt, sugar, and garlic powder and mix well.
  • Add the Guinness, low-sodium beef stock, and kidney beans, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, give it all a stir then turn the heat off and cover. Place the Dutch oven in the oven for 75 minutes.
  • After 75 minutes remove the lid and return to the oven for another 30-45 minutes or until the chili has thickened. For a thicker chili, cook uncovered for another 30 minutes. Alternatively, place the pot on a burner and cook over medium heat until thickened to your liking.
  • Remove the pot from the oven and add the chocolate, stirring to combine. Taste test the chili and adjust salt and spice levels to taste. An easy way to bring up the spice level quickly is with cayenne powder to taste. Serve in bowls topped with sour cream, diced raw onion, cheddar cheese, or whatever you like. Enjoy!



  • The single most important thing you can do to improve your chili is to make it one day in advance and refrigerate overnight!  The flavors will be so much better.
  • The amount of cayenne or omitting completely will depend on the spice level of the dried chilis and commercial chili powder you use.  For this reason, it's recommended to wait until the end before adding the cayenne.
  • Anaheim, Pasilla, or Guajillo can be substituted for the Ancho chiles.
  • 2 dried ancho chiles equal approximately 2 tablespoons of chili powder and 2 dried chipotles equal approximately 1 tablespoon of chili powder.  If using just ground chili powder increase from 2 to 5 tablespoons total.  
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.


Calories: 768kcal | Carbohydrates: 75.3g | Protein: 45.6g | Fat: 30.4g | Saturated Fat: 10.3g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 814mg | Potassium: 1620mg | Fiber: 17.3g | Sugar: 9g | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 9mg