The Ultimate Go-To Chili Recipe

Over dinner one night, Jordan and I were talking about our top five favorite meals and, to his surprise, chili made the cut for my list.

There’s just something so comforting about that warm bowl of meat, veggies and beans, topped with cheese, served with a side of homemade cornbread and butter. Yummo.

I’ve experimented with many recipes over the years and have finally concocted my absolute favorite. The essential ingredient to the best chili? Tomato paste. You simply cannot get the right texture and consistency without it.

Tomato Paste

I know the weather is starting to warm up, for those of us this side of the equator, but it’s just so good you’ll want to turn on the air conditioner and pretend it’s winter just to make it. The rich consistency, perfect amount of heat, and blending of flavors makes this the ultimate chili recipe. For the Shirkmans at least.

The Ultimate Go-To Chili Recipe

The Ultimate Go-To Chili Recipe
serves 3-4 people

1 pound ground beef/turkey
1 bell pepper, chopped (I prefer red)
1 standard-sized can diced tomatoes
1 standard-sized can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, depending on desired consistency

Chili Seasoning
serving size: one pot of chili

Chili Seasonings Graphic | Frame of Reference

2 TBS cumin
1 TBS paprika
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if you prefer non-spicy)

  1. Chop the bell pepper into bite-sized pieces. Drain and rinse kidney beans, set both aside.
  2. Brown the meat in a large pot (no need to add an extra dish) until nearly cooked.
  3. In a small bowl, while the meat is browning, combine the chili seasoning ingredients and stir to blend.
  4. Add the seasoning to the meat along with the bell pepper, tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste and water. Stir until thoroughly integrated.
  5. Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Serve hot and garnish with your favorite toppings.


  • We prefer meatier and less soupy chili so I only add about 1/4 cup of water.
  • Add more or less spice depending on your heat preference.
  • May simmer longer. I’ve made it in the late afternoon and let it simmer for about two hours while I did things around the house.
  • You can make up a large batch of the seasonings to store. Just use 3 TBS per pound of meat.
  • Skip the Jiffy box and whip together your own homemade cornbread! Here’s my go-to recipe, that I of course tweak (add only 1/4 cup sugar, use half whole wheat/half white flour)

Ariel View of Chili

Do you have a favorite chili recipe? What are some additions or substitutions you would make?


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