Chili with Beans

Chili with beans video (scroll down for printable recipe)

I shared my dad’s Texas-style chili recipe several years ago and I love his chili. You know what else I love? This Frito pie chili we made a couple years back on a chuckwagon. You know what else I love? Beans. So over the years, and after all the chilis I’ve eaten, I’ve come up with my own recipe for chili … with beans. I may be committing Texas-suicide here but what do I care?

bowl of chili with beans recipe

Sing it with me:

Chili with beans! Chili with beans!

If you pull that shit in Texas, they’ll kill you dead

Serve this chili with classic cornbread or jalapeño cornbread for a real comforting meal.

Chili with beans recipe


Chili with Beans

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5 from 10 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 pound tomatoes, diced (or 1 16 ounce can)
  • 24 jalapeños or serrano chiles
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 ounces beer or chicken or beef stock
  • 1 1/2 cups drained kidney or pinto beans (1 15 ounce can)
  • Grated cheddar and chopped onions for serving


  1. Crumble meat into a large pot and add onions. Cook together over medium-high heat until meat is mostly cooked. Add tomatoes, chiles and garlic and cook a few minutes longer until the tomatoes have released some of their liquid. Add the spices and stir to combine.
  2. Add the beer and bring to heavy simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Add beans and cook, uncovered another 15 minutes.
  4. Serve with cheese and onions

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chili with beans


  1. Momma J on December 2, 2015 at 9:24 am

    It’s raining here….perfect weather for chili! Thanks!

  2. Kevyn on December 2, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    HAHAHA! I was so excited to see you throw bay leaves in this. I left a comment on your Texas chili post a couple years ago mentioning that I had added beer and bay leaves to that recipe and you replied:

    “Yes! So glad to hear that, Kevyn! Though my dad would shake his head at the idea of bay leaves, I say whatever floats yer boat. :)”

    I hope your dad isn’t shaking his head at you too hard! LOL!

    This new recipe is really very similar to how I’ve tweaked that old recipe, too. I never thought about adding paprika, though. I’ll definitely try doing that!

    Folks might also consider adding a can of chipotles in adobo sauce (kind of slice them up a bit and throw the chipotles and the sauce in with the tomatoes and stuff). I don’t feel as though they add that much heat, but they really give a great depth of flavor. You could cut out one or two of the jalapenos if you’re paranoid about spicy things, though. Also, if you do like I’ve done a couple of times and just completely get distracted and forget that you’re cooking something and end up burning the chili slightly, try adding a little bit of brown sugar. Not enough to make anything sweet, really just a hefty pinch or three, but it does a great job in masking any slightly burnt flavor. It won’t help, though, if it’s more than slightly burned.

    But, yeah, I was so excited to see an updated version of this recipe! You’re awesome, Hilah!

    • Hilah on December 2, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Yay! I’m glad I wasn’t a total bitch about the bay leaves back then 😉
      Chipotles, yes, yum. And that is a great tip about taking away the burnt flavor! I bet with the sugar, it makes it more like “caramelized” than burnt.

      • Jamie Hampton on January 26, 2016 at 2:25 pm

        That was the missing ingredient I had left out of my mom’s recipe, the BAY leaves.
        My 3 bean chili is quite similar to this recipe. It uses black eye peas, pork and beans (I used Van Camps) and kidney beans (or any other bean of your choice) which seems to bring out an unusual taste sensation of it’s own.

  3. The Other Randy on December 2, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Despite having an intense interest in the “anthropology of food”, I’d never dare call myself a food anthropologist. The only “study group” I can claim is my own family. But that being said, it’s a pretty big one that includes four great aunts, maternal and paternal grandfathers, a paternal grandmother, eight aunts and uncles and more than 40 cousins, all of whom, excepting my maternal grandfather and father, lived their entire lives in Texas (the exceptions are why I’m a proud and homesick native Californian). I’d estimate that I’ve eaten chili made by over 80% of those relatives and every single serving contained beans. When I first moved to Texas in the 70s, I was eager to become a “real” Texan (massive failure despite having being born with chili and bbq genes) and had no problem embracing bean-free chili, despite it being alien to my familial experience. But over the years, I began to wonder why my family (with Texan roots dating back to the 1830s) put beans in their chili. Finally, a couple of years ago, I reconnected with a cousin I hadn’t seen in three decades and who had married a Texan with a similar Texas lineage as the two of us. I asked her about the beans in her chili. Her response caused one of those “well, duh” moments: “my mom grew up during the depression…beans are a whole lot cheaper than meat”. So, I wonder if the exclusion of beans in Texas chili isn’t a generational thing. Food orthodoxies are often the result of financial well-being or lack thereof.

    Considering how intense the debate over beans in Texas chili is, it’s fascinating to ponder the almost total lack of debate over the inclusion of another ingredient: tomatoes. One of my great aunts was one of the last San Antonio chili queens and, thanks to her, the one universality in every member of my family’s chili recipes is NO tomatoes. At least that’s what my father said. I suspect she didn’t include beans, either. But that’s pure speculation. Unfortunately, I only met her twice when I was a little kid and I never had the pleasure of sampling her chili.

    For the past three decades I’ve made chili without beans (I’ve used your father’s recipe from the day you posted it!), but you’ve made me really homesick for chili with beans. So I suspect that this will become one of my go-to chili recipes (the other being your vegan chili recipe).

    • Hilah on December 6, 2015 at 10:16 am

      Hey Randy!

      When we shot the Chuckwagon Chili video I asked Cookie why, if cowboys ate both beans and chili on the trail, why did they never combine the two. He didn’t really know. I suspect that it’s just because the original “chile con carne” was a straight meat-and-chiles dish (not even tomatoes) and that tradition keeps it that way in Texas. That’s really cool that your great aunt was a chili queen! Anyone in your family have her recipe?

      But the depression reasoning for adding beans makes perfect sense. I wish my grandmother Hornsby was still alive so I could ask her how she remembers chili as a kid.

      • The Other Randy on December 6, 2015 at 4:55 pm

        Surely her daughter (who I never met) got the recipe for her chili. I did meet her granddaughter when we were both 9 or 10, but I haven’t seen or heard anything about her since. I emailed one of my cousins (the daughter of my father’s oldest sister) about putting beans in chili and she surprised me by saying that her mother had stopped putting beans in her chili about 20 years before she died. My cousin is pretty sure that her mother had gotten a hold of several of our Chili Queen great aunt’s recipes, but couldn’t find them when she died. I suspect my aunt switched from cheddar to queso fresco in her cheese enchiladas thanks to one of those recipes.

        I just skimmed though (so I might have missed it) Robb Walsh’s The Texas Cowboy Cookbook and he doesn’t offer any reasons for not combining beans with chili, either. Interestingly, Walsh’s The Tex-Mex Cookbook mentions how Mexicans consider chili an abomination and an insult to Mexican cuisine, but he also reveals that there was a large migration of Canary Islanders to San Antonio in 1731 and speculates that they are the source of the “exotic” flavors of Tex-Mex, especially the heavy use of cumin.

        • Jamie H. on February 21, 2016 at 12:38 pm

          Maybe the cowboys of Texas just wanted the Mexicans to remember that the U.S. gave permission for General Houston to steal the territory of Texas for the U.S. government. Texas chili was mad different from the Mexican style to rub it in. I am just hypothesizing about he chili and poking fun at the Texans who don’t know why they say chili with beans is not chili.

  4. celise on December 3, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Girl, I be lovin’ your shit! I find that so many of your recipes are ones that I use on the reg, but your videos just give me the extra kick or added ingredient that I never thought of. Thanks so much. I’m a fan 🙂 And this recipe is exactly what my mom used to make in the crockpot so that my brother and I could have meals for the week. I’m living in Brazil, and if you feel like tackling the “coxinha”, I think it would be really cool to show this epic Brazilian treat to the American public. It’s a fried potato dough in the shape of a drop of rain filled with chicken and creamy cheese. Google that shit and show me whacha got. Beijos from Brazil.

    • Hilah on December 4, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Thanks, Celise! I have not heard of coxinha but it sounds yummy as hell! Pao de quejo has also been on my list of Brazilian things to try making. Thanks for the idea!

    • Chuck on May 11, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      I make these with tuna, onions, egg and breadcrumbs instead of chicken, cheese etc. Then I top it off with a mayo, cream of mushroom gravy OMG!!! I LOVE me some tuna croquettes! I will have to try this way now too. Thank you!

  5. A.J. on July 29, 2016 at 9:12 am

    thanks for the recipe Hilah..I loved your video…definitely gave me new insight on making chili

    • Hilah on July 29, 2016 at 10:34 am

      Hope you try it!

  6. Gigi on September 15, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Looks great, Hilah! You had me LOLing with the folks’ comments about how you’d get sick if you didn’t fully brown the meat prior to adding liquid. I have never heard that either, and it doesn’t make any sense to me because, of course, even if you didn’t brown it at all, by the time you simmer it for 30 minutes or an hour it is fully cooked. That said, I do fully brown mine, even though it then goes into a slow cooker for hours. But, that’s because I grew up on a farm in the deep south with great grandparents and grandparents who always cooked the meat well done so it has to be brown for me, LOL. I think it adds flavor, but I think the real reason they did it was from back in the old days when refrigeration was iffy. 😀 Nowadays, since I eat very little meat, and only certified humane, I’ve taken to adding as much beans as meat in my chili. I mix it up and add different kinds, black beans, chili beans, kidney beans, white beans, etc. It may not taste quite as yummy, but at least it is colorful.

  7. Edromaximus on April 25, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    You’re hysterically funny, and some great recipes. Well done.

    • Hilah on April 26, 2018 at 10:53 am

      Why thank you 🙂

  8. Brianna on May 1, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Is this recipe spicy? I’m trying to make it for my family and I don’t cook very much, so I’m not sure if 4 jalapenos will make it spicy or not.

    • Hilah on May 1, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Hi Brianna,
      It depends on whether you leave the membranes and seeds in the jalapeños or not. If you want it mild, cut those out (wash your hands with soap afterwards!). If you want it medium, leave them in. If you want it hot, add more or add some serrano chiles, too.

  9. Sam on June 12, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Are you really cooking the meat for over 45 mins?

  10. Denise Mangini on August 19, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Best chili I have ever made! I used 3lbs of meat so was worried when I had to triple the amount of spice. So I mixed them all together an added half. Gave it a taste and decided to go for it. It tastes perfect! Still not sure about added 3-12oz beers as it seems like too much liquid with just one. Kudos

    • Hilah on August 20, 2018 at 7:22 am

      Thanks, Denise! So glad it turned out. Smart idea to make a spice blend and add it in stages. You’re right, I think the beer probably doesn’t scale the same as the rest of the ingredients.

  11. Jerry on October 22, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Have you ever tried adding a one-pound tube of Jimmy Dean or Owen’s hot breakfast sausage in place of one pound of ground meat? (If you’re using, say, three pounds of meat to make a large batch of chili.) It gives the chili a nice spicy taste with just a little taste of pork (emphasis on little). Mostly it just adds flavor and it doesn’t clash with the taste of the chili overall. Just a thought. Had some one evening at a friend’s house. It was really good.

    • Hilah on October 23, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      I haven’t but it does sound good!

  12. Sonya on January 21, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Awesome receipe!

  13. Mj on October 14, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Dang on good! Made last night. Didn’t have beef stock on hand and chicken stock in ground beef didn’t sound so appetizing to me, so we used a Corona….OMG! SOOOOOOOO GOOD!!!!!! Watched your video after making and was cracking up, because not only did my 2 year old eat this chili, she LOVED IT!!!!!! GOOD JOB!

    • Hilah on October 14, 2019 at 7:48 am

      Wow! That’s something that your 2 year old liked it! I don’t think my 5 year old has ever had a bite of chili in his life 😀

  14. Bobbi Ragland on November 29, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Love this recipe. It is my go to. The spice mix is perfect and it also works well if I have to sub other beans or meat or canned jalapeno. Big bonus , it freezes great. Thanks Hilah!!

  15. Cori on January 5, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    I love the kitchen. I have read over many recipes but this one is the one that stood out! Because i am a Texan and Hispanic, (recipes and spices are a family tradition that must be carefully used!) the combination of spices was attractive! As a Hispanic woman let me tell you that tomatoes and beans are used in many, many recipes! Yes I am aware that this is “Texas” chili but because of tradition, I used this recipe and it was a crowd pleaser! Thank you!

  16. KimmyD on July 25, 2022 at 9:37 am

    This recipe is comfort food to the MAX!!!!!! It’s 100 degrees out right now and about to make this for dinner!

    BEANS BELONG IN CHILI, fight me about it! Am a Texan.

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