Wonderfully chunky no-bean chili is ready in just 30 minutes, and it's as flavorful as if you've cooked it for hours! Topped with cheddar and sour cream, it makes a filling, hearty meal.
My late father in law used to make amazing chili. He would make a huge pot of it, and we would all rave about how good it was, and how it became even better the next day. His recipe did contain beans, and it was delicious.
Now that I'm on a low-carb diet, I decided to make my own version. This no-bean chili is such an amazing comfort food. It's tasty, hearty, and very filling. The best part: this recipe is super easy. It's ready in just 30 minutes!
What is real chili?
There seem to be different opinions on the question of what is "real chili" and whether it includes beans or not.
I actually like both versions. But for anyone who prefers to avoid beans (such as anyone on a keto or paleo diet), this recipe is obviously the better choice.
A quick and easy recipe
While I realize that chili is supposed to be cooked lovingly for at least an hour over low heat, I'm way too impatient for that.
So this recipe is ready in 30 minutes - and it's intensely flavorful and absolutely delicious. If anything, the meat is juicier because of the shorter cooking time.
The ingredients you'll need
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this tasty chili. Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.
Seasoning paste: Cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, tomato paste, and minced garlic. Make sure the spices you use are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this delicious oil. But if you'd rather use an oil with a high smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Vegetables: Onion and diced tomatoes.
Ground beef: I normally use extra-lean ground beef in this recipe (93% lean and 7% fat). It's fine to use lean ground beef (85/15).
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use, or the chili could end up too salty.
Beef stock: Store-bought is fine - just check the ingredients to make sure they look OK.
Dried bay leaf: Adds an extra layer of flavor, but not mandatory.
How to make a no-bean chili
It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Mix the seasoning paste. You start by mixing together the ingredients for the seasoning paste.
Cook the beef and onion. Next, you cook the onion and beef in olive oil with some kosher salt.
Add the remaining ingredients. Add the seasoning paste. Then add the beef stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, more salt, and black pepper.
Simmer. Now simmer the chili, uncovered, until it thickens and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. It's a good idea to stir occasionally.
How to serve it
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can use ground turkey or ground chicken in this recipe instead of ground beef. Just make sure to use ground dark meat. It's juicier and more flavorful than white meat.
- If you don't have fresh garlic, simply use a teaspoon of garlic powder instead. It won't be the same, but it's still pretty good.
- It's fine to use regular paprika instead of smoked paprika. You can also replace the dried oregano with dried thyme.
Frequently asked questions
It's often referred to as "Texas chili," since in Texas it's usually prepared without beans. It's also made without tomatoes. "Chili con Carne" translates to "chili peppers with meat," so that's what the Texas-style recipes focus on.
You don't really need to replace them. Simply increase the amount of meat you use. But if you must, chopped portobello mushrooms are a good option.
Many classic recipes instruct you to simmer it for at least an hour. However, I have found that 20 minutes is enough to thicken the stew and meld the flavors.
More chili recipes that you might enjoy
And pumpkin chili may sound suspicious, but it's wonderful. It's actually my favorite chili recipe these days. And no, you can't actually taste the pumpkin!
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No Bean Chili Recipe
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ (6 oz can) tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped (6 oz)
- 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
- 1 ½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt divided
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, no salt added, undrained
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- In a small bowl, with a fork, mix together the seasoning ingredients to create a thick paste.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, beef and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring to break up the meat, about 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the meat is browned.
- Add the seasoning mixture (use a small spatula to scrape it off the bowl) and cook, stirring to mix it into the beef and vegetables, one more minute.
- Add the beef stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, the remaining salt and the black pepper. Lightly mash the diced tomatoes while stirring them into the mixture. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Garnish the chili with your favorite toppings, such as diced red onions, chopped scallions, sour cream, shredded cheddar, and guacamole.