Lots of crunchy, sharp and creamy toppings turn a simple bowl of beef and bean chili into dinner in an instant. (Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

Lots of crunchy, sharp and creamy toppings turn a simple bowl of beef and bean chili into dinner in an instant. (Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

This beef and bean chili is the easiest route to dinner

Made with just ground beef, beans and spices, this no-chop chili is ready from start to finish in under 30 minutes.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

Several years ago, my partner and I spent a month in San Antonio, where his family lives. We were both unemployed at the time, so we spent the days driving around the city, exploring and eating all the wonderful food. We consumed a lot of chili.

We ate the “authentic” kind, consisting of cubed beef chuck or sirloin cooked in a mole-like gravy of hydrated and pureed dried chiles, and we ate plenty of the Tex-Mex kind, in which ground beef stands in for cubed and is seasoned with ground chili powder made from a mix of dried chiles, but often of the New Mexico varietal.

Beans and tomatoes — highly contentious ingredients to add to chili in Texas — were found in several iterations we tried. After sampling so many, we decided that the ground beef version with beans — but with tomato paste and not canned tomatoes — was our favorite. It has been a staple of our quick weeknight dinners ever since.

Consisting of just ground beef, beans and spices, it’s incredibly easy to execute for beginner cooks (there’s nothing to even chop!) and is ready from start to finish in under 30 minutes. Once it’s ready, we dole it out in bowls and top it with cheese, sour cream and diced avocado. We use red onions and scallions because I like the sharp bite of the former and the vivid color of the latter.

The only thing that’s not allowed in the chili is greens or vegetables of any kind — that would be sacrilege.

Easy beef and bean chili

You can use this recipe for a simple chili and then flavor it in different ways. Experiment with single ground chiles in place of the mixed chili powder; ground coriander along with the cumin; or smoked paprika for smoky depth and an extra rich red color. Whichever way you choose, keep it simple so the spices shine through. You can also use ground lamb, bison or turkey instead of beef, or vegan meat substitutes such as Beyond Meat. For chili cheese hot dogs, fries or nachos, use this chili and top with finely shredded cheddar cheese.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound ground beef

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups beef or chicken stock (or water)

1 can (15 ounces) organic red kidney, pink or pinto beans, undrained

Shredded sharp cheddar or Colby jack cheese, sour cream, diced avocado or guacamole, diced red onion and thinly sliced scallions, for serving

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring to break it up, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the chili powder, oregano, cumin and paprika and cook, stirring, until the spices are toasted in the fat, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the beef and cook, stirring, to cook off the raw flavor of the flour, about 1 minute. Pour in the beans, liquid and all, then pour the stock into the can of beans to help loosen any stuck beans and rinse the rest of the liquid out of the can; pour it into the pan. Stir everything to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and season again with salt and pepper.

Serve the chili in bowls and top with cheese, a dollop of sour cream, avocado, red onion and scallions.

Makes 4 servings.

Variations

No-Bean Chili: Omit the beans and their liquid and double the beef for a total of 2 pounds.

Vegan Chili: Substitute 1 pound Beyond Meat for the ground beef and substitute vegetable stock, mushroom broth or water for the beef stock.

Seasoned Ground Beef for Tacos: Cook the recipe through Step 1, then remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Use as a filling for tacos.

Make ahead: The chili will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Talk to us

More in Life

Follow these step-by-step directions to plant all summer long and never lose one to the heat. (Getty Images)
Gardening pro shares 7 steps to successful summer planting

When a landscape contractor in the Sacramento Valley, he planted all summer long and never lost a plant.

sandwich with ham, tomatoes, lettuce and toast isolated on white background, healthy breakfast, lunch
You voted: The best darn sandwich in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people have their favorites

Evan Thompson / The Record
The Shifty Sailors performed at the Celebrate America event on July 3 at Freeland Park.
It’ll be concerts ahoy! on Whidbey Island this weekend

The Shifty Sailors and the Saratoga Orchestra will perform two pop-up concerts. They’ll do the TikTok sensation, “The Wellerman.”

"Betty Corning" clematis' lavender-blue petals dangle from long flower stems, which look like ballerina skirts floating in the air. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ aka viticella clematis

This clematis’ lavender-blue petals dangle from long flower stems, which look like ballerina skirts floating in the air.

This large, enameled copper plate is decorated with a stylized rooster, fish and three star-like designs. The back is textured enamel with the mark "Karamu OH Hykes." (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Enameled bowl by talented Karamu artist should fetch thousands

The shallow bowl with a stylized picture of a rooster on the front was signed “Karamu OH Hykes” on the back.

This year's Quilts on the Beach is scheduled for July 31 at Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island. (Cama Beach Quilters)
Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

The Pilchuck Boyz will release their new album "Leisure Village" on July 23.
Snohomish’s Pilchuck Boyz release new album of ‘mossy reggae’

With their silly, hooky tunes and willingness to make fools of themselves, the duo have been compared to the Flight of the Conchords.

At The Landing, prime rib is also sliced and served as sliders and a hearty English-cut sandwich. (Quil Ceda Creek Casino)
Taste of Tulalip: Prime rib with horseradish sauce and au jus

Now you can roast Quil Ceda Creek Casino’s classic prime rib at home. Pro tip: Turn it into sliders or sandwiches.

A double smash burger with cheese is messy to eat, but easy to make. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Eat This: Double-decker smash burgers with secret sauce

This recipe calls for stacking two burgers between three buns, so it’s messy to eat. Be sure to have a stack of napkins.

Most Read