This classic Blue Ribbon Chili with beef and beans is the ultimate comfort food for cool weather, football watching, and potlucks. Plus it just might be the easiest chili recipe you’ll ever make!

Bowl of beef and bean chili with cheese and corn chips.

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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. It’s adapted from a popular All Recipes entry, Debdoozie’s Blue Ribbon Chili, which my husband had been making for himself before we began dating. Over the years we’ve made a few tweaks, and this version is our ultimate family classic.

Blue Ribbon Beef Chili

This beef and bean chili is:

  • Hearty and filling.
  • Packed with flavor from spices, tomatoes, and salsa!
  • Extremely easy to make.

How To Make Blue Ribbon Chili

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

For the traditional stovetop version, here are the basic 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!

Depending on the fat content of your ground beef and personal preference, you may want to drain the grease from the browned meat before adding the rest of the ingredients. A large mesh strainer makes this fast and easy. You can also just push the browned meat to one side of the pan and soak up a bit of grease with paper towels.

I usually skip straining entirely if I’m able to use ground sirloin or beef that is 90+% lean.

Slow Cooker Option

This recipe is easy to make in your Crockpot, as well, if you want to set it and forget it. Brown the meat and onions in a skillet, then transfer to the slow cooker, stir in the remaining ingredients, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. You’ll come home to delicious chili, ready to serve!

Bowl of chili.

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 – we love sharp cheddar
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Cubed avocado
  • Cornbread
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Corn chips (My husband got me started on corn chips with chili, and now I consider them a must. So good.)

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

Bowl of chili with a spoon, ready to eat.

Recommended Equipment

Saute tool

Sauté Tool

Medium mesh strainer.

Medium Mesh Strainer

Oval Dutch oven

Oval Dutch Oven

If you try this Blue Ribbon Chili, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

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Bowl of beef and bean chili with cheese and corn chips.
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Blue Ribbon Beef Chili

This classic Blue Ribbon Chili with beef and beans is easy to make and a must-have dish for cool weather, game day, and potlucks.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 medium 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
  • 15-20 cranks fresh-ground black pepper


  • In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the ground beef and chopped onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently to break up the beef, until the meat is browned and the onion is tender. Drain grease, if there is a lot of excess.
  • 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 about 60 minutes. Remove bay leaves.
  • Serve warm with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, corn chips, cornbread, or other toppings as desired.


  • Kidney Beans. We like to use one can of dark red and one can of light red kidney beans, just for the variety. Feel free to swap one or both cans for pinto beans, black beans, or any others that you like. 
  • Slow Cooker / Crockpot. To make this chili in the slow cooker or Crockpot, 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 6-8 hours, then stir again, remove bay leaves, and serve.
  • Recipe. 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!

This recipe was originally published September 24, 2018, and has been updated with new photos and more helpful text.