I don’t know about you, but some days I am done trying to think up something exciting for dinner. Those are usually the nights I head to see what’s in the pantry. Here is my tried and true quick and easy chili recipe from Costco pantry staples I always have. It’s an easy recipe, and I think you’ll love it!
What’s for dinner?
I’m tired of that question! Why do we have to eat all the time? Hahahaha, but since we do, I always have a few things that are my go-tos on the nights that I just don’t feel like thinking up something new.
At least I can serve something in my favorite milk glass bowls.
My standards in our house are tacos or chili. Since we are currently in chili season, I wanted to share with you my favorite chili recipe.
I say “favorite” because I have a few chili recipes that I use. One being a ground turkey chili that is diet friendly with lots of veggies, but I will share that another time. This one is my favorite classic chili recipe and is the one I know I always have the ingredients for.
Stocking up the pantry at Costco
I try to keep my pantry stocked with a few items that we always eat, and things I know I can throw together to make something. Plus my hubby loves to go to Costco.
It is a huge bonus since it is only less than 3 miles from our house. Most people that shop Costco or another club type warehouse go less frequently but buy the things they know they always use to justify the quantities needed.
Obviously, you don’t need to shop at Costco to make this quick chili recipe. If you are a chili lover, I will share with you what items you need and what some good substitutions are to come up with the flavor profile that you like.
Chili is all about getting the basics right, then tweaking it for your current mood or what you need to use in the fridge.
Should chili be thick or soupy?
In my world, chili should always be thick. And I’m certainly not saying that if you like yours soupy then we can’t be friends. Everyone is different.
But I wanted to put it out there that this is a wonderfully yummy and thick chili.
If you prefer yours more soupy, I will share a few tips for you to get it that way. But I think that the best chili recipe is one that feels like it sticks with you, and this one does. Especially with all your favorite toppings.
Can this chili be put in the slow cooker?
A slow cooker is one of those items that is great to dump all of your ingredients in and walk away for the day. But the best chili recipe will require some meat browning and a few details.
So I never put mine into a crock pot, since I am already cooking it in a large pot on the stove top that it will simmer in.
If you are headed out to a party that you are bringing this great recipe to, then YES stick it in the slow cooker to stay warm and allow the flavors to mingle. But most of that will be happening in your pot anyway.
Is it better to put tomato sauce or tomato paste in chili?
When you see this recipe, you will see, I do both. But to me, tomato paste is more important than the sauce, as there are other ways you can create sauce if you have paste. But when stocking your pantry, both are great staples for many recipes, not just chili.
Let’s get this chili party started
These are the basic ingredients I always have in my pantry from Costco ( a few not pictured) to make this beef chili recipe. Let’s go over each one and talk about substitutions if you are using what you have or stocking up at your local grocery. Chili really is the perfect meal.
- ground beef – Costco sells the 3-pack of lean ground beef that comes in a 1-1/4 pound package. If you are making the recipe, use one pack or up to 1-1/2 pounds of lean ground meat. If you are using a higher fat content beef, choose up to 2 pounds and make sure that you drain all the fat away!
- large onion – my favorite part of giant bags of veggies from Costco is the size! I love onions, and use one whole very large brown onion.
- tomato paste – one small can and this is the most important
- tomato sauce – I use half the can and then freeze the rest for another time. You could add a high quality beef broth as a substitution but this will change your flavor profile a bit. Whatever you use, use more of it if you like it soupy.
- kidney beans – I use from 2-3 cans of beans, ALWAYS drained! If I have them, my favorite bean combo is 2 cans kidney beans, 1 can pinto beans. And NO, I never use black beans for this chili recipe. I don’t think the flavor of them are that great with this very tomato-y base. I reserve those for my diet turkey chili recipe that has tons of veggies and only 1 can of beans and black beans work nicely with those different flavors.
- diced tomatoes – I use 2 cans. One of the cans I dump in, as is. The other, I crush the tomatoes more.
- Chili seasoning – This is a great choice when throwing things together for that quick, simple recipe. When I am feeling more culinary (hahahaha) I will make my own homemade chili seasoning from the spice drawer goodies. I Usually use 2 tablespoons of a high quality chili powder, a dash of cayenne pepper, a heaping teaspoon of ground cumin, a bit of brown sugar, and my secret ingredient. No, I DO NOT use garlic powder or garlic salt. Not the best flavor for chili, in my humble opinion. Even though I love garlic for many other things!
Variations to try if you have these ingredients hanging around
When I have them, these are good too for your pot of chili:
- bell pepper – I only use one during the summer, if I have some in my garden.
- red pepper – I like the flavor of these better than green. If I have one in my fridge that needs to be used, I will throw it in.
- fresh herbs – same reason, if I have some hanging around.
- bean variety – I have talked a little about my favorite type of beans for chili. And kidney beans will always be the best choice, but if you have a favorite, try a mixture and find your best variety!
The must have secret ingredient
Many friends over the years have commented that they have followed my recipes I have shared with them ‘to the letter’ but it never tastes the same. The joke then became that it must have needed ‘my cooties’.
Obvi, that was a fun joke between friends, because it’s not like any recipe was actually getting any cooties from me. But after listening to much whining from a few friends (who shall remain anonymous) I discovered it was the salt.
YES! The type of salt you use really does make a difference.
This is the only kind allowed in my kitchen. It’s a must have because it brings out the flavor of foods unlike regular table salt. (I don’t even keep that in my kitchen anymore unless I’m making homemade Playdoh for the grandkids).
Use this one and only this one. You’ll thank me later. I keep mine in a cute little salt holder near the stove.
Should I use chili beans or kidney beans for chili?
When eating a high bean chili, the variety is key. Most chili beans I have seen on the market are already seasoned. Right off, those are a NO for me. You never know what seasonings you are getting, and that is a hard pass from me because I want to build my flavor profile to taste.
Kidney beans are the best, as they don’t get mushy when cooked, and have the best flavor for chili. Of course, if you want, you can vary whether they are light or dark for some visual interest.
If my local grocery is having one of those big “stock up on canned goods” sales, then I will buy both. Killer combo is this; one can each of light and dark kidney beans, and that one can of pinto beans. Always drained and rinsed, I can’t say that enough.
What about the toppings
Sometimes the point of eating chili might feel like the toppings offered. But when you have a good chili, toppings don’t need to cover the flavor. They should enhance the depth of flavor of a great chili. Here is how we like to eat it:
- cheddar cheese – shredded cheese melted is a must. We love the Colby/Jack variety.
- real sour cream – yes please. I put this in a baggie to squeeze it out in a nice plop.
- my corn thing – OMG you guys, I will have to share this recipe later with you too. It’s literally amazing!
- green onions – even with onions cooked into the chili. You can never have too many onions. Well, usually.
- hot sauce – this is a NO for me. But my hubby loves this addition, as do the other spice lovers in the family. I don’t make a spicy chili, since my grandkids love chili and we like to eat this fast chili recipe together.
All the details of leftovers
With a large stockpot full of chili, you probably will have extras. And you should, as it is always soooooo good the next day. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator after it has cooled. Serve leftover chili on top of a nice grilled hot dog for a meal that doesn’t feel like leftovers.
I hope you will try this chili and make it your own, seasoning how you like it! It’s a great quick and easy chili recipe that you can always bust out fast! Follow me on Pinterest for more food and design inspiration.
- large brown onion, chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce, use half the can or more
- 2- 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
- 3-15.5 oz. cans kidney beans, drained
- 1/4 c. chili seasoning
- 1-2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
- Chop onion and place in hot olive oil to cook, cook over medium high heat.
- Add ground beef and brown.
- Drain off any fat. Reduce to medium heat.
- Add tomato paste to ground beef and brown slightly.
- Add tomato sauce.
- Add one can of diced tomatoes. Then place one can into bowl and smash them with potato smasher. Add to chili.
- Drain and rinse kidney beans.
- Add chili seasoning to pot.
- Add beans.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Stir frequently.
- Simmer for at least 30 minutes, and up to one hour.
Read blog post for tips and tricks, along with variations to use and serve.