Spicy and Savory: Authentic Chili Recipe for a Perfect Meal

Step into my kitchen and let’s cook up a storm with a recipe that has been passed down for generations. Get ready to treat your taste buds to the robust flavors of my Momma Shirley’s chili recipe. If you’re a fan of hearty soups, then you’re in for a treat.

Growing up, Momma Shirley’s chili was one of my favorite dishes. The aroma of sizzling ground beef and simmering beans wafted throughout the house on Sundays, announcing that it was time for a warm and cozy family meal. This mouthwatering and comforting dish has been a staple food in households across America for generations.

As a culinary explorer, discovering new recipes is always exciting, but there’s something special about the classics – dishes that have stood the test of time and become beloved traditions in families across the world. My Momma Shirley’s chili recipe is one of those classics.

The ingredients may be simple, but they come together to create a flavor explosion unlike any other. So roll up your sleeves, grab your apron, and let’s get started on this easy-to-make, satisfying dish that will have your family begging for seconds – or even thirds!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

My Momma Shirley's Chili
My Momma Shirley’s Chili

Shirley’s Chili Recipe is more than a simple recipe. It is a concoction of love, nostalgia, and the perfect blend of spices. I’m convinced that this chili recipe is the easiest and tastiest one you’ve ever encountered.

What makes this recipe so exceptional? First, it boasts simple ingredients that are readily available in your pantry or at your local grocery store. The combination of ground beef, chili powder, onion, tomato sauce, and kidney beans creates a savory base that you can customize with other spices like cumin and adobo sauce.

Secondly, Shirley’s Chili Recipe is versatile. You can serve it as a quick weekday meal with delicious sides like avocado slices, grilled cornbread, or shredded cheese. Or even add it to a hot dog or mix it with Puerto Rican rice and beans for an extra flair at family get-togethers.

Lastly, this homemade chili recipe carries a sentimental value that no other award-winning chili recipes can offer. As you sit down to savor every spoonful, you will feel as if you are right in Big Momma’s kitchen enjoying her home-cooking. This Shirley fabrication recipe was passed down from Shirley Scarborough’s holocaust memoir mother when she was just nestled in her shoes under six feet tall PhD Dr. Shirley Wachtel. Now it’s your turn to create an authentic home-cooked meal with ease based on her simple ingredients.

Shirley’s Chili Recipe is a winner because it’s easy, tasty, versatile, and has sentimental value – all reasons why we’re convinced it’ll become your new favorite meal!

Ingredient List

 A bowl of comfort: My Momma Shirley's chili
A bowl of comfort: My Momma Shirley’s chili

Here’s the list of ingredients you need for My Momma Shirley’s Chili Recipe:

The Essentials

  • 1 lb ground beef.
  • 2 cans (15 ounce) kidney beans, rinsed and drained.
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) tomato sauce.
  • 1 onion, chopped.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced.


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder.
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional).
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional).

Other Ingredients

  • 1 cup hot water.
  • 2 cans chili beans in sauce (14.5 ounces each)
  • Adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce).

All these simple ingredients guarantee an easy chili recipe that is sure to satisfy your taste buds. Try out My Momma Shirley’s Chili Recipe today!

The Recipe How-To


Are you ready to taste my Momma Shirley’s famous chili? Get your apron on and let’s get cooking!


To start off, finely chop 1 onion and 4 garlic cloves. In a large Dutch oven or pot, cook the onion until soft and translucent. Then, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Next, add 2 pounds of ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it is cooked through.

Adding the Ingredients

Add a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce, a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and two cans of kidney beans (15 ounces each) rinsed and drained to the pot. Then, add 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.

Simmering Process

Pour in enough hot water to reach your desired consistency (usually around a cup or so) and stir well. Finally, bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low then simmer gently for an hour or so, stirring occasionally.

Additional Step – Shirley’s Secret Ingredient

Here comes the secret ingredient that my Momma Shirley used to make her chili unique: a tablespoon of adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers in adobo.

Finishing Off the Dish

Before serving up piping hot bowls of this satisfying dish, do not forget to adjust seasonings as needed depending on your taste preference. You can serve up this fantastic homemade chili garnished with all your favorite toppings such as sour cream or shredded cheddar cheese.Perfect pairing would be cornbread or warm tortillas.

I promise you this chili recipe will not disappoint you!

Substitutions and Variations

 The ultimate winter warmer: Homemade chili
The ultimate winter warmer: Homemade chili

If you’re looking to switch things up with My Momma Shirley’s Chili Recipe, there are plenty of substitutions and variations to try out. Here are a few suggestions:

– Heat level: If you’re not a fan of too much heat, feel free to reduce or omit the cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. On the other hand, if you like things really spicy, add more chili powder or use hotter peppers like serrano or habanero.

– Meat: My Momma Shirley’s Chili Recipe calls for ground beef, but you could also use ground turkey, chicken, or pork for a slightly different flavor. Another option is to use chunks of beef chuck roast for a heartier texture.

– Beans: This recipe uses both chili beans and kidney beans, but if you don’t have either on hand, you could substitute with black beans or pinto beans. Or if you’re not a fan of beans at all, omit them entirely.

– Vegetarian: To make this into a vegetarian-friendly recipe, simply omit the ground beef and replace the beef broth with vegetable broth. Add in extra veggies like chopped bell peppers, corn or zucchini for additional body and nutrition.

– Green chili: For a green chili twist on the recipe, chop up some canned or fresh green chilies and add them in along with the onion and garlic. You can even swap out the red chili powder for green!

With so many options at your disposal, it’s easy to see why My Momma Shirley’s Chili Recipe is such a versatile favorite! Feel free to experiment with different ingredient combinations until you find your perfect bowl of homemade chili!

Serving and Pairing

 Spice up your life with a delicious bowl of chili
Spice up your life with a delicious bowl of chili

Now that you have prepared the Shirley Chili Recipe, it’s time to serve it up and enjoy the mouth-watering flavors. But, what’s the best way to serve this tantalizing dish? Let me tell you!

First, choose your favorite style of serving dish. Some options include a classic chili bowl or a pretty ceramic soup tureen. Don’t forget about the toppings! There are tons of options like sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped scallions and diced avocado. Let everyone personalize their chili with whatever toppings they prefer.

But what to serve as sides? I strongly recommend a hearty bread such as cornbread or crusty sourdough for mopping up any lingering sauce. If you want something refreshing to balance out the bold flavors of the chili, go for a side salad dressed with vinaigrette.

As for perfect beverage pairings, you can’t go wrong with an ice-cold beer or crisp glass of white wine. However, if you want a non-alcoholic option, try some unsweetened iced tea or lemonade.

Lastly, make sure to save room for dessert! Shirley Chili pairs well with rich chocolate desserts like brownies or a chocolate lava cake. Alternatively, if you prefer something lighter, fruit salad can be a good option.

In summary, there are endless ways to enjoy Shirley Chili with its savory and spicy flavors. Serve it up creatively with your favorite toppings and sides; enjoy it either with glass of wine or cold beer while relishing in some decadent dessert afterwards — and savor every last bite!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Chili, the perfect dish for a cozy night in
Chili, the perfect dish for a cozy night in

Chili recipes, especially my Momma Shirley’s chili recipe, often get better with time as the flavors meld together. As such, this recipe is perfect for making ahead and storing for later consumption.

To make ahead, simply prepare the chili as per the recipe instructions and allow it to cool slightly before transferring it to an airtight container. You can refrigerate it for up to 4 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Reheating stored chili can be done in either the microwave or stovetop. If using a microwave, cover the container and heat on high until heated through, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, if reheating on the stovetop, transfer the chili to a saucepan and add hot water or broth as needed to thin out the consistency. Heat over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

When reheating chili, you may notice that it has thickened and lost some of its moisture content. In that case, add a little water or broth as needed until it reaches your desired consistency.

Remember that slow cooked dishes tend to develop more flavor when stored and reheated than when freshly made. So feel free to make extra and save some for another day – you won’t be disappointed!

Tips for Perfect Results

 This chili recipe is a crowd-pleaser
This chili recipe is a crowd-pleaser

To achieve the best outcome when preparing my Momma Shirley’s chili recipe, make sure to read these tips carefully. While the recipe is straightforward, a few small touches can go a long way in perfecting it.

First and foremost, use high-quality ingredients. Use fresh garlic cloves and onion for an aromatic touch that will bring the chili to life. Additionally, opt for 100% chili powder instead of chili seasoning mixes, which often contain unnecessary additives.

Don’t be afraid to play around with the spices – this recipe calls for cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, but feel free to adjust according to your desired heat level. Add a pinch of salt and pepper at the beginning stage of cooking and then again at the end of the cooking process, season to taste.

To create an even richer flavor profile, add a spoonful or two of adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers. The smoky flavor will complement the chili perfectly.

If you’re in a hurry, you can make this recipe using canned beans instead of dried ones. However, if you have extra time, consider soaking and cooking dried beans; they will add more flavor and texture to this homemade chili.

For those with a slow cooker at home, this recipe is very adaptable to being made in one. Simply brown the beef in a skillet then transfer everything else into the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours on low. On stove-top slow-cooking method, monitor regularly and adjust temperature setting accordingly.

Lastly, for reheating leftovers or making a bigger batch ahead of time, double the batch of the ingredients up or adjust accordingly when it comes to simmering time. Trust me – this hearty homemade chili tastes even better after resting in the fridge overnight!


As with any recipe, there may be questions that arise about the process or ingredients. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help clear up any confusion or concerns you may have. These answers should provide helpful tips that will lead to a successful final product that you and your loved ones can enjoy. So, dive in and tackle any issues you may come across when making my Momma Shirley’s chili recipe!

What is the secret to great chili?

Some unexpected yet delightful ingredients could spice up your dishes and give them a tantalizing twist. For instance, cocoa powder, which is commonly associated with sweet desserts, can be blended into savory dishes like chili, intensifying the flavor of peppers. Meanwhile, switching water or stock with beer could bring forward a whole new dimension of taste to your recipe. As for coffee, its earthy and roasted undertones, when used in careful proportions, can bring out the smoky flavor of grilled meats or add richness to stews. Moreover, cinnamon’s warm and slightly sweet essence may add depth to both sweet and savory dishes, enhancing its aroma and flavor.

Should chili be thick or soupy?

As a lover of chili, I know that the perfect bowl should be thick and filling enough to serve as a main course. However, it’s common to end up with a bit too much liquid in the pot. Although one option is to keep cooking the chili down, that approach comes with risks. Soft ingredients like beans may become overcooked and lose their texture, resulting in a less-than-stellar chili experience. But fear not, as there are ways to thicken chili without sacrificing its quality.

How much water do you put in chili?

For a hearty and flavorful meal, try making a delicious beef chili. This recipe calls for one pound of ground beef, one chopped onion, one can of tomato sauce, one can of kidney beans, one can of Italian-style stewed tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, one and a half cups of water, as well as a pinch of chili powder and garlic powder. With these ingredients, you can create a perfect balance of meaty, savory and slightly spicy flavors that will leave you feeling satisfied.

How do you make Alton Brown chili?

For this hearty stew recipe, you will need to prepare 3 pounds of beef by cutting it into 1-inch cubes. You will then heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pot and add 1 3/4 teaspoons of salt. Once the salt has dissolved, pour in a bottle of medium ale and 16 ounces of salsa. To add some extra texture, you can crush up 30 tortilla chips and add them to the pot. Finally, for some added heat, chop up 2 canned chipotle peppers and mix in 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a hearty and flavorful chili recipe, then look no further than My Momma Shirley’s Chili Recipe. This recipe is packed with simple ingredients that come together to create a delicious and satisfying dish that will leave you feeling satisfied and full.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic ground beef chili or something a bit more adventurous like a creamy white chicken chili or Puerto Rican rice and beans, this recipe has got you covered. And with easy stovetop or slow cooker options, it can even fit into your busy weeknight schedule.

So why settle for mediocre chili when you can have an award-winning recipe that’s been passed down through generations of family? Give My Momma Shirley’s Chili Recipe a try and taste the difference for yourself!

My Momma Shirley's Chili

My Momma Shirley’s Chili Recipe

This was one of the very first dishes my mother taught me to make. I think I made it for about a month straight. My friends were sick of it! I've perfected it a bit since but it's still my momma's chili!
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Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cup
Calories 166.1 kcal


  • 2 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chili beans
  • 1 chili brick
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (8 ounce) package McCormick mild chili seasoning


  • Brown lean ground beef (7%) with onions, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small pot.
  • In a large pot, add 1 cup hot water and chili brick. Heat on low until the brick dissolves.
  • Drain ground beef and add to chili brick.
  • Add reamining 2 cups of hot water, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, chili powder and chili seasoning to the pot.
  • Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
  • Serve over brown or white rice.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 182gCalories: 166.1kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 19.7gFat: 4.2gSaturated Fat: 1.8gCholesterol: 46.9mgSodium: 530.4mgFiber: 2.5gSugar: 0.6g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Beginner Cook, Easy, Inexpensive, Meat, Southwestern, Spicy
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