A few bowls of weeknight chili with assorted toppings.

Weeknight chili shouldn’t be relegated to the Monday-through-Thursday dinner routine. Weekends are busy, too! This is my favorite, pared-down chili recipe. It comes together in about an hour and gets better by the day, so don’t be afraid to make it ahead of time.

If you’re entertaining on Sunday, don’t forget something green! Salads

And maybe another side dish or two! On the Side

And something sweet! Desserts

Have a wonderful weekend, Everyone. Go Team.

A bowl of weeknight chili topped with cheddar, scallions and cilantro.
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A bowl of weeknight chili topped with scallions and cheddar.

Super Easy Weeknight Chili

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5 from 4 reviews

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Author Notes: Adapted from several sources but mostly America’s Test Kitchen’s Cook it in Cast Iron.

This chili  should take about 1 hour to throw together start to finish. This chili tastes better the next day, so don’t be afraid to make it in advance.  I’ve also had success simply using diced onions and no peppers, so if you (as I) feel guilty buying peppers when they aren’t in season, you don’t have to!


  • tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 to 2 onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
  • red or green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, optional
  • Kosher salt
  • tablespoons chili powder
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, plus more to taste
  • tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • pound ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, homemade is best, or water (I always use water)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked beans, any kind you like, or one 15-oz can beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounces can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • tablespoon vinegar, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar, optional
  • Grated cheese, chopped cilantro, chopped scallion or onion, for garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and pepper, if using, and immediately turn the heat down to low. Season with a pinch of salt and add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Cook, stirring every so often, until the vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the stock and beans, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to gentle simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes.
  3. Uncover, add the crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili has thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste. If it needs a little bite, add the vinegar. If it needs a little sweetness, add the sugar. If it needs more salt, add a big pinch and cook for 5 minutes more. Taste again, and adjust with more salt, cayenne, vinegar, or sugar. Serve with cheese, cilantro, and scallions on top.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American