Easy Busy Day Chili

Busy day chili recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
490 Calories
11g Fat
60g Carbs
41g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 490
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 281mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 60g 22%
Dietary Fiber 16g 58%
Protein 41g
Calcium 193mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy busy day chili is made with lean ground beef and ingredients you probably have on hand. Garlic, onion, cumin, and chili powder are the flavor ingredients, and small red beans and tomatoes add substance and color.

This chili can also be made with canned black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans. If you prefer a chili without beans, add more ground beef and a small amount of water broth if needed. The chili may be made with ground turkey as well.

The recipe is easily doubled for a big meal or tailgating party. Put it in a slow cooker and take it along to a potluck or party. Set the slow cooker on low for serving.

If you need an easy, hearty meal for a fall or winter day, this chili recipe is an excellent choice.


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can small red beans with liquid
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for busy day chili
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch Oven or large saucepan over medium heat; brown the ground beef with the onions.

    Heat the vegetable oil
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Add the garlic to the beef mixture and continue cooking for a minute or two. Drain off excess fat.

    Add garlic to beef
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Add the tomatoes, beans with liquid, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

    Add the tomatoes
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings.

    Taste and adjust
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Serve the chili with freshly baked cornbread and a tossed salad. The chili is delicious with rice as well.

    Serve chili
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga


  • To thicken the chili, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to the chili.

Recipe Variations

  • Add about 1 tablespoon of minced jalapeño pepper to the chili, or a small can of mild chopped green chile peppers.
  • Sauté about 1/2 cup of diced green or red bell pepper along with the ground beef and onions. 
  • Sauté a shredded carrot to the ground beef and onion mixture. It's a great way to get an extra vegetable into the kids, and it adds some subtle natural sweetness.
  • Top servings of the chili with sliced green onions, shredded cheddar jack or pepper jack cheese, pickled jalapeño rings, or a dollop of sour cream.