Updated: Jan 31
Chili. Is there any better cozy, cold weather meal? It's hearty and warms you up from the inside. And for me, it always hints a bit at nostalgia, reminding me of cold winter nights after playing in the snow with the fire crackling in the background and Jeopardy! on the tv in the foreground.
But why is this called porch chili? Simply enough, when I make this in the cold months, I usually make it a day in advance and I put the big dutch oven out on the porch to keep it cold and not take up all the fridge space. It's a little hillbilly but that's how I grew up and I'm ok with it. My husband makes fun of me, but he loves the chili so he only makes fun of me a little bit.
A lot of (most?) people have their own chili recipe that they always make and will never stray from it. I get it. Chili is a deeply personal dish that many are unwilling to try making a new recipe. Regardless, I'm here to share mine. I spent years changing around seasonings, adding new things, trying to find the right balance of flavor and heat. What resulted is a very simple, straight forward, no-fuss recipe that hits all the right spots for me. I found that all the extra "fuss" I was trying to add into it for years to make it something unique was actually straying further and further from the essence of chili. A humble, simple, and easy meal that warms your body and soul.
One of the things I love most about chili are all the fixin's. You can take a basic recipe like this and really change it up from bowl to bowl. For instance, one night I'll have this with the traditional sour cream and cheddar cheese. The next night I'll serve it over a little mac and cheese. You can add oyster crackers, tortillas, or Frito's, each of which inserts its own flavor and texture, making it an entirely different experience from one topping to the next.
Feel free to make your own spin on this or any chili recipe. For me, this base recipe is the perfect blend of simple spices, textures, and consistency. I make it several times a year and it never fails to satisfy.
No-Fuss Porch Chili Makes ~ 6-8 servings Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes
Click the file below to download and print the recipe
I recommend reading the recipe all the way through, including the recipe notes at the bottom, before you start cooking.
3lbs ground beef, preferably 85/15
1 15oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (or regular canned diced tomatoes)
1 15oz. can tomato sauce
2 15oz. cans of beans, drained and rinsed (I like black beans and pinto beans. Use what you like).
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. of prepared jarred garlic)
3.5 TB chili powder
3 TB cumin
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3-6 shakes of hot sauce to taste
3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1 TB white vinegar
In a large, high sided pot like a dutch oven, brown the ground beef over medium heat, breaking it up with the back of a spoon until the meat is cooked through. Pour the meat into a large colander in the sink to drain off the excess fat and set the beef aside.
In the same pot, return the pan to medium heat and drizzle in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the diced onions and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until they are soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. If they start to brown or scorch, turn the heat down.
When the onions are cooked, turn the heat down to low (if not already) and add the minced garlic to the pan and stir, cooking for about 1 minute. Then add your spices (chili powder, cumin, cayenne, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder). Mix the spices into the onion/garlic mixture for about a minute to wake up the spices and make them fragrant.
Add the meat back to the pot along with the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, white vinegar, and 12-15 oz. of water (just fill the can from your tomato sauce and pour it in) to the pot along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Give it a good stir to evenly distribute everything.
Bring to a low simmer then cover, leaving a small crack between the lid and pot to allow steam to escape. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. If it is sticking to the bottom of the pan, turn down the heat.
Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.
Serve immediately with your favorite fixins or refrigerate until ready to serve. If you like your chili a little thicker, continue cooking it until more of the liquid evaporates. Or you can make a slurry from 2 TB corn starch and 1/4 cup of water mixed together. Pour the slurry into the hot chili and stir. Allow to cook for 10 minutes to thicken.
*Recipe notes + Variations*
*Definitely feel free to swap out beef for ground chicken or turkey.
If you're feeling spicy, add in diced jalapeños or poblano peppers with the onions.
Freeze extras in single servings in zip top bags. Defrost slightly by running warm water over the bag then dump the frozen chili in a sauce pan to reheat.