This classic beef and bean chili is the ultimate comfort food for cool weather, football watching, and potlucks. Plus it’s the easiest chili recipe you’ll ever make!

A bowl of beef chili garnished with cheese, cilantro, and corn chips.

As the weather turns cooler, there is simply no comfort food quite like a heaping bowl of chili.

This beef chili recipe is a fall and winter staple in my home. My husband actually made a version of this even before we began dating, and over the years we’ve taken the basic recipe and adapted it a little here, a little there. It’s now the ultimate beef chili: hearty and filling; packed with flavor from spices, tomatoes, and salsa; and best of all, extremely easy to make!

How to make beef chili with salsa

I was planning on sharing “process” photos of this recipe, and even snapped a series while I was making this batch. But I have to admit: photos of ground beef browning are just not that appealing. So, we’re going to go ahead and skip straight to the finished product. I hope you understand!

Since this is an incredibly straightforward recipe, I think it’ll be OK without the visual guide!

Are you ready? Here are the steps:

  1. Brown ground beef and onion
  2. Add tons of flavor, in the form of red beans, crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and a couple bay leaves. And the not-so-secret secret ingredient: a jar of salsa!
  3. Stir, let simmer, and serve!

See? So easy!

I do like to strain the meat before adding the rest of the ingredients, just to cut back a bit on the grease and fat. A simple, large mesh strainer makes this really fast and easy to do!

Dutch oven vs. slow cooker

My favorite thing to do is to make this on the weekend on the stove in my oval Dutch oven, which is a fantastic workhorse. Letting the chili simmer for an hour this way makes the whole house smell cozy and amazing!

But, if I need to make it during the work week, this recipe adapts well to the slow cooker. Just brown the meat and onions beforehand, then transfer to the slow cooker and stir in the rest of the ingredients. You’ll come home to delicious chili, ready to serve!

What to serve with chili

Of course there are as many ways to top a bowl of chili as there are families in the world, but here are a few of our favorites:

  • Shredded cheese (a must!)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Cubed avocado
  • Cornbread
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Corn chips (my husband’s favorite!)

All of these toppings also go great with sweet potato black bean chili, if you’re in the mood for a vegetarian version!

Looking for more easy ground beef recipes? You’ll love our Instant Pot Ground Beef Tacos, and the best American Goulash and Homemade Hamburger Helper recipes, both from Pip and Ebby!

A bowl of beef chili garnished with cheese, cilantro, and corn chips.

Enjoy! If you make this Blue Ribbon Beef Chili or any other recipe from Nourish and Fete, please rate it and leave a comment below. We love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!

A bowl of beef chili garnished with cheese, cilantro, and corn chips.
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Blue Ribbon Beef Chili

The easiest chili recipe you’ll ever make!


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 15 ounce cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 ounce jar salsa
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few turns freshly-ground black pepper


  • In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the ground beef and chopped onion. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until the meat is browned and the onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, beans, salsa, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, bay leaves, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 60 minutes.
  • Serve warm with cheese, cilantro, corn chips, cornbread, or other toppings as desired.


  1. I like to use one can of dark red and one can of light red kidney beans, just for the variety. They are usually sold right next to each other on the shelf, so it’s just as easy to buy one of each kind! 
  2. To make this chili in the slow cooker, brown ground beef and onion as directed in step 1, then transfer to the slow cooker, add remaining ingredients, and stir well. Cook over high heat for 5-6 hours or low heat for 8 hours, then stir again, and serve.
  3. Adapted from

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 303kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 143mg, Potassium: 394mg, Fiber: 1g, Vitamin A: 1185IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 2.9mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!

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