Amazing Chili Recipe: Perfect Comfort Food

Picture yourself on a cold winter day, dejected and lethargic, looking for something to lift your spirits. That’s where my favorite chili recipe comes to the rescue! This delightful dish is just what you need to lift your mood and warm your heart.

Whether you’re making it for your family or friends or just for yourself, this recipe promises to be the perfect comfort food that you can enjoy with minimal effort. The recipe is originally from America’s Test Kitchen (ATK), which means you can trust this tried-and-true recipe that has been perfected by the experts in the field.

I love how simple and easy it is to make, and how it doesn’t compromise on flavor. Plus, the aroma that fills my kitchen when I’m cooking it brings me so much joy.

So what makes this recipe stand out? It’s all about the ingredients and the little details. From using dried ancho chiles to adding a touch of light molasses, every element in this recipe is designed to create a unique depth of flavor that will leave you craving more.

In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know about making our favorite chili ATK recipe. From the ingredient list to a step-by-step guide on how to cook it, I’ve got you covered. So let’s get ready to dive into a bowl of hearty, delicious chili!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Our Favorite Chili(ATK)
Our Favorite Chili(ATK)

Why settle for mediocre when you can have the best? If you’re looking for the ultimate comfort food, then look no further than America’s Test Kitchen’s favorite chili recipe. Trust me, this recipe will captivate your taste buds and have you wanting more with every bite!

Firstly, let’s talk about the secret ingredient: cocoa powder. Don’t be fooled by this sweet ingredient, as it adds a depth of richness to the chili that’ll leave your mouth watering. Combined with the earthy flavors of ground cumin and dried oregano, it instills a bold and complex flavor profile which cannot be found elsewhere.

Next, let me introduce you to the star of this recipe – beef chili. Made with the best ground beef money can buy and packed with six dried ancho chiles and three árbol chiles, it yields a hearty and full-bodied broth that will satisfy any hunger pangs. Paired with creamy peanut butter (yes, you heard that right!), it gives a nutty undertone which balances out the overall taste.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, don’t feel left out just yet! This recipe has got you covered. You can swap out the beef for your preferred plant-based option without sacrificing any flavor.

Lastly, let’s not forget about its versatility. Whether eaten on its own topped with cheese, a dollop of sour cream or paired with crunchy tortilla chips or warm cornbread, it’s perfect in all forms! Plus, it only takes three hours to cook on low heat which is perfect when you’re short on time but hungry for homemade chili.

In conclusion, America’s Test Kitchen’s favorite chili recipe is just simply everything your taste buds could ever ask for. From the secret ingredient to all its versatile components, it has everything you need to make any chilly night warmer and tastier!

Ingredient List

 A warm and satisfying bowl of chili, ready to take on a cold winter night!
A warm and satisfying bowl of chili, ready to take on a cold winter night!

Here are the ingredients that you will need to prepare our favorite chili recipe:


  • 2 lb of ground beef


  • 1 pound of dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
  • Low-sodium chicken broth, for cooking beans

Dried Chiles:

  • 6 dried ancho chiles
  • 3 dried árbol chiles

Fresh Aromatics:

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced

Canned Tomatoes:

  • Four 14.5-ounce cans of diced tomatoes with their juice


  • 3 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 oz of lager beer (optional)

Spices and Seasonings:

  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup of light molasses
  • 2 tablespoons of cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Table salt

Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before starting the recipe.

The Recipe How-To

Cooking this Chili recipe

Now that you have gathered all of the needed ingredients, it’s time to whip up a delicious pot of chili.

Step 1: Make the Chili Paste

In a small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons of chili powder and 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.

In the food processor, pulse together the dried ancho chiles until they turn into flakes. Transfer these flakes to a large dutch oven and cook over medium heat for around 5-7 minutes until they turn brownish and then set them aside.

Place in the food processor 6 dried arbol chiles, stems removed, and process it until its flakes with few large pieces left. Transfer this to the pot with ancho.

Pour 1 bottle (12-ounces) of lager beer into a measuring cup or a tall glass. Set your glass near your stovetop as you’ll add it to the chili later.

Step 2: Cook the Beef

Take a large skillet and cook on medium-high heat until browned for around 10-15 minutes. Once browned, transfer it to another pot using a slotted spoon making sure to leave behind any drippings.

Add oil, diced onions and jalapeños peppers(the seeds removed) to the skillet over medium heat until it softens in around 5-7 minutes.

Add minced garlic cloves and let it cook for around 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Step 3: Simmer

Once everything is cooked, remove from heat and add the chili paste, 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, 2 teaspoons of cornmeal, 1 teaspoon of light molasses, and 1 teaspoon of table salt mix everything well.

Add 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth to the beef pot along with canned diced tomatoes(two cans) cover with lid, bring to boil then reduce heat.

Now add drained and rinsed picked pinto beans (you can use homemade ones if you have them) and simmer on low heat for two hours until sauce thickens. Stir occasionally scraping deep at bottom pot corners to make sure nothing burns.

Final Step: Ready for serving

After two hours mix in peanut butter(optional), simmer for five minutes more then serve hot with shredded cheese on top.
Enjoy your delicious batch of chili!

Substitutions and Variations

 This chili recipe is perfect for game day or gathering with friends and family!
This chili recipe is perfect for game day or gathering with friends and family!

In cooking, we sometimes have to adapt to what’s available in our pantry or what’s preferred by our taste buds. Here are some substitutions and variations that you can try with this recipe:

– Beer: You can substitute the lager beer with any light beer or skip it entirely if you prefer a non-alcoholic version.

– Molasses: Use dark molasses if you want a deeper flavor, and skip the molasses if you don’t have any on hand.

– Meat: Ground turkey or chicken are great alternatives to ground beef if you’re looking for a healthier option. For a vegetarian version, use textured vegetable protein or extra beans instead of meat.

– Beans: Dried kidney or black beans can be used instead of pinto beans in this recipe. If you’re using canned beans, rinse and drain them well before adding them to the pot.

– Peppers: Substitute jalapeno chiles with serrano or poblano peppers if you want less heat, or add some diced bell peppers for a milder flavor.

– Spices: Chili powder can be used instead of dried ancho chiles if you don’t have any. You can also experiment with other spices like paprika, cinnamon, or chipotle powder to customize the flavor to your liking.

Remember that cooking is all about experimenting and finding what works best for you. These substitutions and variations are just suggestions to get you started. Feel free to play around with different ingredients and methods until you find your perfect homemade chili recipe.

Serving and Pairing

 Get your toppings ready, because this chili is about to take your taste buds on a journey!
Get your toppings ready, because this chili is about to take your taste buds on a journey!

I find that the best way to serve a warm and hearty bowl of chili is with some crunchy tortilla chips or freshly baked corn muffins. The crunch from the chips and the sweet heat from the muffins complement the spicy and savory flavors of the chili beautifully.

If you prefer something lighter, you can also serve your chili atop a bed of rice or quinoa. This not only adds extra texture to your dish but also makes it more filling and satisfying. Plus, rice and quinoa both have a neutral flavor that pairs perfectly with the bold flavors of the chili.

For an extra indulgent twist, try topping your chili with some grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, or fresh guacamole. The richness and creaminess of these toppings provide a cooling effect to your taste buds while enhancing the different layers of flavor in your favorite chili.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a beverage pairing to go with your homemade chili, I highly recommend serving it with a cold lager beer or a full-bodied red wine. A glass of beer cuts through the spiciness of the dish beautifully while a glass of wine complements its bold flavors perfectly.

Whatever way you decide to serve and pair this delicious beef chili recipe, I guarantee it will be a hit with family and friends alike!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 With its rich and savory flavors, this chili is sure to become your new favorite recipe!
With its rich and savory flavors, this chili is sure to become your new favorite recipe!

When it comes to chili, leftovers are often better than the first serving. That’s why I always make a double batch of this recipe and keep it in the fridge or freezer for later. The best part about this chili is that it tastes even better the next day after all the flavors have had time to meld together.

To make-ahead, simply let the chili cool down to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. You can store it in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze it for up to 2 months. Before reheating, let the chili thaw completely if frozen.

When reheating, you can do so on the stovetop or microwave. For stovetop, heat the chili over medium-low heat until it’s hot and bubbly. If you find that the chili has become too thick, you can add a splash of water or broth to thin it out. For microwave, transfer the chili to a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through.

One thing I love about this recipe is that it’s versatile in terms of how you serve it. You can enjoy it straight-up as a bowl of chili with some toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, and avocado. Or use it as filling for tacos, burritos or even as a topping for baked potatoes.

In summary, You can make this recipe ahead of time and store in either fridge or freezer for later consumption. When ready to eat again simply heat on stovetop or microwave until hot and bubbly throughout.For storage in fridge should not exceed 4 days while store in freezer should not exceed 2 months. Enjoy your left-over chili alone or pairing with different dishes like tacos, burritos or as topping for baked potatoes.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Don't be afraid to add a little extra heat to this chili if you like it spicy!
Don’t be afraid to add a little extra heat to this chili if you like it spicy!

When it comes to making the best chili, it’s all about the details. Here are a few tips to ensure your homemade chili turns out perfectly:

1. Don’t skip the cocoa powder. It may seem like an unconventional addition, but trust me, it adds a subtle depth of flavor that will take your chili to the next level.

2. Rinse and pick through the dried beans before cooking. This will remove any debris or rocks that may have been mixed in during packaging.

3. Be sure to choose good-quality ground beef for your chili. Look for packages labeled “80/20,” which means they contain 80% lean meat and 20% fat. This will help ensure a rich, meaty flavor and prevent your chili from becoming too dry.

4. Brown the beef thoroughly before adding any liquid ingredients. This will allow any excess fat to render off and create a flavorful, caramelized crust on the meat.

5. Whisk together the cornmeal and water before adding it to the chili. This will prevent lumps from forming and help thicken the mixture evenly.

6. If you prefer a milder chili, feel free to reduce the amount of chili powder or skip the jalapeno peppers altogether.

7. Let your chili simmer low and slow for at least 30 minutes (but preferably longer) to allow all of the flavors to develop fully.

8. Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different toppings and serving suggestions! Some of my favorite options include shredded cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, or a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

By following these simple tips, you’re sure to end up with a delicious and satisfying homemade chili that everyone will love!


Now, let’s look at some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about this delicious chili recipe. From cooking time to ingredient substitutions, these answers will help you make the best homemade chili possible.

What is the secret to making good chili?

As a culinary aficionado, I’ve discovered numerous techniques to enhance the flavors of dishes, and I’m excited to share them with you! First off, I’m going to show you how to whip up some homemade chili powder that’ll make your taste buds dance with excitement. Next, it’s time to spice up the spices themselves by toasting them. Apart from this, I advise you to prepare your veggies correctly for optimal flavor. Speaking of a flavor punch, giving your beans a brine could add an extra level of seasoning to your recipe.
To top that off, you’ll want your meat choices to be impeccable. I’m going to provide some tips for treating your meat right, whether chicken or beef. One tip for ground beef is to go low and slow, allowing the meat to hold onto its flavors. And let’s talk about fat- some folks might ask you to trim it down, but I say don’t do it! Fat carries a plethora of scrumptiousness, so embrace it.
Through these tips and more, you’re sure to make a chili recipe like no other. Get ready to wow your tastebuds!

What secret ingredient will deepen the flavor of your chili?

One delicious way to elevate the taste of your chili is to add some pureed pumpkin at a specific step in the recipe. After sautéing your aromatics like onions and garlic, but before pouring any liquid, stir in the pumpkin. Doing so will create a richer and sweeter flavor profile that beautifully complements the chili peppers and heat. It’s a simple but effective technique that will surely impress your taste buds.

Why do you put baking soda in chili?

After combining the ingredients for the beef mixture, it is best to let it sit undisturbed for about 20 minutes before cooking. This allows the baking soda to work its magic by raising the meat’s pH, which helps to retain moisture and speed up the browning process during cooking. It’s a simple step that can make a big difference in the texture and flavor of your finished dish. So, take a break, relax and let the baking soda do its job before proceeding to the next step.

Why do you put peanut butter in chili?

When adding peanut butter to chili, it serves as a useful ingredient to thicken and achieve a creamy texture without the need for flour or cornstarch. This is especially handy when your chili has turned out to be too thin.

Bottom Line

Now that you have your very own personal culinary compass, it’s time to set sail with America’s Test Kitchen’s “Favorite Chili” recipe as your guide. With its bold and balanced flavors, hearty yet tender textures, and simple yet satisfying ingredients, this chili recipe is sure to become a beloved staple in your household for years to come.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started on your culinary journey, this recipe is undoubtedly one of the best chili recipes out there. With its use of unique ingredients such as the aromatic dried ancho chiles and cocoa powder, it adds depth and complexity to the dish, elevating it from good to great.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your apron, stock up on ingredients, and get ready to simmer up a storm. This recipe is perfect for meal prep or even freezing leftovers for chilly nights or sudden cravings.

In conclusion, America’s Test Kitchen has done it again with their “Favorite Chili” recipe. It is tried and true – tested by experts with proven results. It provides many options for substitutions and variations in case you want to experiment with flavors or ingredients. Be bold and add a spoonful of peanut butter like the test kitchen does – you never know if it could become your own secret ingredient.

Happy cooking!

Our Favorite Chili(ATK)

Our Favorite Chili(ATK) Recipe

A 4-pound chuck-eye roast, well trimmed of fat, can be substituted for the steak. Because much of the chili flavor is held in the fat of this dish, refrain from skimming fat from the surface. Wear gloves when working with both dried and fresh chiles. Dried New Mexican or guajillo chiles make a good substitute for the anchos; each dried árbol may be substituted with 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. If you prefer not to work with any whole dried chiles, the anchos and árbols can be replaced with 1/2 cup commercial chili powder and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, though the texture of the chili will be slightly compromised. Good choices for condiments include diced avocado, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, lime wedges, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. The chili can be made up to 3 days in advance. Prep time includes the beans soaking time.
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Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1 pot
Calories 335.6 kcal



  • 3 tablespoons table salt
  • 1/2 lb dried pinto bean, rinsed and picked over (about 1 cup)

Homemade Chili paste

  • 6 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed, and flesh torn into 1-inch pieces (about 1 3/4 ounces)
  • 2 -4 dried arbol chiles, stems removed, pods split, and seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth


  • 2 medium onions, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 3 small jalapeno chiles, stems and seeds removed and discarded, and flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced-pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons light molasses
  • 3 1/2 lbs blade steaks, 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of gristle and fat and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (see note)
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle mild-flavored lager beer, such as Budweiser


  • Beans: Combine 3 tablespoons salt, 4 quarts water, and beans in large Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.
  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Chili paste: Place ancho chiles in 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat; toast, stirring frequently, until flesh is fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, reducing heat if chiles begin to smoke. Transfer to bowl of food processor and cool. Do not wash out skillet. Add árbol chiles, cornmeal, oregano, cumin, cocoa, and ½ teaspoon salt to food processor with toasted ancho chiles; process until finely ground, about 2 minutes. With processor running, very slowly add ½ cup broth until smooth paste forms, about 45 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Transfer paste to small bowl.
  • Chili: Place onions in now-empty(uncleaned) processor bowl and pulse until roughly chopped, about four 1-second pulses. Add jalapenos and pulse until consistency of chunky salsa, about four 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl as necessary.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture has evaporated and vegetables are softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chili paste, tomatoes, and molasses; stir until chili paste is thoroughly combined. Add remaining 2 cups broth and drained beans; bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Add half of beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to Dutch oven. Add ½ bottle lager to skillet, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, and bring to simmer. Transfer lager to Dutch oven. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil, steak, and lager. Once last addition of lager has been added to Dutch oven, stir to combine and return mixture to simmer.
  • Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until meat and beans are fully tender, 1½ to 2 hours. Let chili stand, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir well and season to taste with salt before serving.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 256gCalories: 335.6kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 14.1gFat: 9.8gSaturated Fat: 1.4gSodium: 3524.2mgFiber: 11.8gSugar: 5.7g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, From Scratch, Meat, Steak
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