Three Bean Chili

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Making chili from scratch is quite simple. My recipe for Three Bean Chili can be prepared on your stovetop in about 90 minutes or slow-cooked in a crockpot all day long. It’s made with ground beef, three kinds of beans, canned tomatoes and my homemade chili seasoning. It’s a classic chili recipe that we have enjoyed for years. Easily catered to the likes and dislikes of spiciness.  

Chili Weather

I have to say there is nothing like a bowlful of chili to warm you from the inside out on a cold day.  We had that kind of day just today.  The perfect day for a pot of my Three Bean Chili!

I love a hot bowl of chili, but none of that package mix here.  I always try to keep the beans on hand for when the urge strikes me, then I typically just throw it all together in the crockpot on a busy day.  

Picture me, dumping beans, and meat and tomatoes and this and that spice…that’s how it goes.  Finally, I decided I would go about the task of measuring it all out so I could share my chili “recipe” with you.  

You see until I did that I didn’t really have a chili “recipe.” It was just a pot of stuff I threw together that made chili!


Chili with or without Beans

I have to admit, I used to prefer my chili without beans. In fact, I used to pick them out!  For the better part of the early years of my marriage, I just omitted them, but my husband really likes them, so I started adding them in.

Truth be told though – the original red chili never contained beans, only meat and red chili peppers, so I wasn’t completely wrong.


What are the best beans for chili?

For chili, you are going to want a strong bean that can stand up to the cooking process. No wimpy white beans that will disintegrate while they cook!

The best beans for chili are Kidney beans, red or dark red, black beans, chili or pinto beans. Chili beans are actually pinto beans cooked in chili spices, so I tend to grab a can of them, thinking the extra spice can’t be a bad thing!

You can use dry beans for chili, but I have always just found it so much easier to open the cans and just dump them in!



How do you make chili from scratch?

One of the best things about making chili is that the ingredients are typically the ones that I have on hand. With the exception of the ground beef, I have it all in my pantry and spice cupboard.

Ingredients in Three Bean Chili: Ground beef, canned diced tomatoes, canned black, chili and kidney beans, onion, beef broth, garlic, chili powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt and seasoned pepper.


In a soup pot, begin by browning your ground beef with salt, pepper, onion and garlic. 

At this point, you can transfer the meat to your slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients, or add the tomatoes, chili seasoning and beans to the same pot on the stovetop.  Stir in the beef stock and cover it and let it simmer for about 90 minutes. Cook it low in the crockpot for about 6 hours.


Scoop it into a bowl and eat it as is or top the best classic chili with your choice of toppings!

How do you like to top your chili?


Love it? Pin it!!

Don’t forget where you found this fantastic easy Three Bean Chili recipe! Pin it to your favorite Pinterest recipe board before you go!


Pinterest image with text "Chili Seasoning from scratch"

Homemade Chili Seasoning Recipe


Chili topped with homemade cornbread is always a winner.

We typically have an assortment of things to serve with our chili: bread, crackers, cheese and tortilla chips. 



3 bean chili

Me personally, I like mine with a little bit of cheese and some tortilla chips!



More Chili Recipes to love!

Depending on the day, you may have a hankering for a different kind of chili, and that’s perfectly okay because there are so many chili recipes out there to be had! Here are some that I love for their uniqueness and wonderful flavor profiles:

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Baked Chili Cheese Bean Dip

Recipe Ideas for Repurposing Leftover Chili

But what about when you’ve got a bunch of chili leftover? Besides eating it, or freezing it, because chili is one of those foods that freezes really well, what can you do with it?

The answer to that is all sorts of things! In fact, I think it’s one of the more versatile things you can make! 

You can bet that if I have any chili leftover, my Chili Mac Skillet will make an appearance on our dinner table the next week.  During grilling season, my Spicy Grilled Cheese Chili Dogs will happen, and no matter what time of year it is, The Best Chili Dogs are always a hit around here!

One of my most favorite dips uses leftover chili, too. My Chili Cheese Bean Dip, pictured above. I mean … I am a little ashamed to say, I could eat half of that all on my own and not even blink an eye!


Ready to grab the recipe for this Three Bean Chili?  Let’s get it!  M.

Close up of Three bean chili in a white bowl
4.58 from 14 votes
Print Recipe

Three Bean Chili

Making chili from scratch is quite simple. My recipe for Three Bean Chili can be prepared on your stovetop in about 90 minutes or slow-cooked in a crockpot all day long. It's made with ground beef, three kinds of beans, canned tomatoes and my homemade chili seasoning. It's a classic chili recipe that we have enjoyed for years. Easily catered to the likes and dislikes of spiciness.  
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best beans for making chili, best classic chili recipe, chili with beans, chili with ground beef, crock pot chili, easy, how to make chili from scratch, simple, slow cooker chili, stovetop chili, Three Bean Chili
Servings: 10 -12 servings
Calories: 263kcal
Author: Michaela Kenkel


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef browned
  • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can of each: Black beans, Dark Red kidney beans and Chili beans
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup onion chopped (substitute 1/4 cup dry chopped onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • To amp up the spice add some cayenne pepper!!


  • Brown ground beef with some salt and pepper, add your fresh onion if using, if using dry it's not necessary. Drain any excess grease.
  • Dump everything in your crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours. (or cook on the stove top by simmering for 60-90 minutes)


Serving: 1g | Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 648mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g

This recipe was originally posted on December 3, 2014. It was updated to improve user experience and reshared on October 21, 2020.

Three Bean Chili


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  1. That’s how I tend to make all my recipes Michaela! A little of this, a little of that! It’s been a challenge to measure things so I can get them on the blog! πŸ™‚ I do love chili though and I am always up for trying another recipe…it’s perfect for a chilly winter day and we are going to be having a lot more of those at this point! πŸ™‚

  2. Have you tried chili over roasted garlic triscuits (buttered of course)? Put them in the bottom of your bowl and spoon it over… can you say YUMMM! LOL

  3. I have a chili recipe I have used for years and we love it. I decided to give Michaela’s recipe a try just for a change. We love it. I will be sure to keep the ingredients on hand so that I can make it again.

  4. Michaela, I LOVE your recipes and find a new one to make every week! I do have a question about this delicious chili recipe… can I use pinto beans instead of the black beans? My daughter left 2 cans of pinto beans in my cupboard and I’m trying to figure out what to do with them! Thanks for your help!

    1. For sure! Use whatever kind of beans you like! I love pinto and the hubs loves the black beans — we mix it up all of the time. Thank you for the kind words, too! I am so happy that you enjoy the recipes!

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