Quick Weeknight Recipe: 5-Ingredient Chili

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This recipe delivers on nearly every expectation of a great weeknight recipe. It cooks in one pot, calls for just five ingredients, and makes for very good leftovers. It’s simple and delicious and perfect for the change of weather.

Here’s a recipe that takes 30 minutes to make — a recipe that you can stretch for a few nights if need be, or freeze so you’ve got another meal waiting in the wings. It might not be the most exotic chili you’ll ever try, but it’s a truly satisfying and tasty one-pot meal that I’ve actually made twice in the past two weeks. Since there are only two of us, we’ll usually have two meals from one pot of chili and freeze the rest. And I love to doctor it up with fresh cilantro or parsley and a big dollop of sour cream.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

For this recipe, you can use whichever beans you prefer. I like a mixture of black beans and kidney beans, so I use one can of each. As far as preparation goes, this is a pretty straightforward recipe, but do note that I cook the beef and onion together — the individual flavors complement each other as they cook. And you’ll notice I add the chili powder once the beef mixture is already cooked since it has a tendency to burn or become clumpy if you add it too early. Last, this recipe does call for 1/4 cup of water. Some folks like their chili thicker than others, so start slowly here. It’s much easier to add more water than to take it away.

5-Ingredient Chili

Serves 8

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 large white onion, diced
1/4 cup water
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 (15-ounce) cans beans, rinsed and drained

In a Dutch oven or large pot, cook the ground beef and onion over medium heat until the beef is browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir every now and then to help crumble up the meat.

Drain the meat mixture and return to pan. Add the chili powder and stir well.

Add the beans, water, and diced tomatoes to the pot and bring to a slow boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low; simmer for 20 minutes. Then uncover and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle chili into bowls and serve hot. Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro or chopped green onion — or anything else that makes you happy. Chili will keep refrigerated for a good 5 to 6 days. After that, freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.

Recipe Notes

You could certainly make this chili vegetarian by omitting the meat and adding cooked tofu instead. Because tofu doesn’t have the fat content that beef or turkey does, you’ll need to cook it with some oil so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Alternatively, add an additional can of beans and have a chunky bean chili.