The first time my husband made chili for me when we were dating, I was blown away. If I hadn't already been head-over-heels in love with him, that chili certainly would have done the trick. It was rich and hearty, and packed with layers of flavor, but what really made it stand out was one single ingredient — one that I had eaten so many times before, but never thought to stir into a pot of chili until then. Now I include it as often as possible.
Cubes of Seared Beef Will Upgrade Your Chili
Go beyond ground beef and make your next pot of chili even better by also adding cubes of seared beef. With a rich, caramelized outside and a texture so tender from braising in the chili sauce, these cubes are like little treasures hidden beneath the surface of your bowl.
This upgrade is a natural fit with beef chili, but it's really an irresistible addition to any and all chili recipes — especially those with a long cook time. As a rule of thumb, I start with about one pound of cubed beef for every six- to eight-serving batch of chili. You'll need a little extra oil, salt, and pepper to sear the meat, but other than that, there's no need to alter anything in the ingredient list.
The Best Cuts of Beef to Add to Chili
Because chili benefits from a long cook time on the stovetop (or in the slow cooker), not all cuts of beef are an ideal fit here. Like other slow-cooked braises, the best cuts of beef for chili are chuck roast and bottom round roast. Both are inexpensive, tough cuts that are transformed into full-flavored, tender bite-sized bits after a slow, steady simmer.
Add Cubed Beef to Any Chili — No Recipe Required
Plan to sear the beef first, transfer the meat to a plate, and then proceed with the chili recipe as written. Whether you're following a stovetop, slow cooker, or Instant Pot recipe, sear the beef in the same pot you plan to cook the chili or sauté the aromatics in. It means extra flavor, and one less dirty dish. Once the chili is ready to simmer, return the seared beef to the pot and cook as directed.
Get a refresher: How To Sear Meat Properly