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Homemade Chili Beans with Dried Beans

Raise your hand if you love a good bowl of chili beans! This Homemade Chili Beans with dried beans is a recipe you’ll want to try. It comes with all the classic ingredients: ground beef, dried red beans, tomatoes, and a little heat from fresh jalapeno peppers and canned chipotle peppers.  A long, slow simmer ensures a deep, rich flavor!

A bowl and spoon with chili beans.

There’s nothing like the warm, rich taste of hearty chili. This is an easy dish to whip up on a cold winter day. Just imagine yourself sitting at the table enjoying a steaming bowl of chili beans and a side of cornbread or sourdough bread.  Yum…you can make it happen! 

Why This Recipe Works

  • Budget friendly. Using dried beans is more economical than canned beans.
  • Better flavor and texture. By using dry beans, you wont get a metalic taste that canned beans have and they won’t be mushy.
  • Versatile and convenient. You can substitute the dried beans with canned beans if desired.
  • Chipotle adds a smoky, spicy flavor and you can adjust the heat level to your liking.
  • Ground beef makes this chili hearty and filling.

If you love chili beans try our pork chili beans, Instant Pot white chicken chili, or our turkey chili beans with beer.

ingredients used to make chili beans from scratch with dried beans.

The Ingredients

This recipe for chili beans has a nice bit of heat to it but it is not so hot that it distorts the flavors of the rest of the dish.  The actual heat comes from two seeded and chopped fresh jalapeño peppers and one canned chipotle pepper mashed to a paste.  Of course, if you like it really hot and spicy just add more of the chipotle peppers! Here is the ingredient list:

  • Dry red beans. We used small red beans but you can use kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, or Mayocoba beans.
  • Ground beef. Try to select ground beef that is 80 to 90 percent lean beef. You can use ground beef with a higher fat concentration but you will want to drain the fat after it cooks.
  • Salt
  • Onion and fresh garlic. We used a yellow onion but any variety will work.
  • Fresh jalapeno peppers. If you remove the seeds and the white pith, the pepper will not be as hot.
  • Fresh cilantro. If you don’t care for cilantro, substitute with parsley.
  • Canned tomatoes.
  • Tomato paste. The tomato paste adds so much richness and depth of flavor. A small amount goes a long way and you won’t need to use a whole can but you can freeze the leftovers. You can also purchase convenient squeeze tubes.
  • Canned chipotle pepper. Don’t use the whole can! You only need one pepper or maybe two if you like really spicy chili. You can freeze the peppers that you don’t use.
  • Beef broth
  • Spices. Chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika
  • Salt and pepper.

Dried red beans in a paper bag.

How to make Chili Beans with Beef:

This recipe is a hearty chili dish that can be made in a couple of hours if you start with a bag of dry red beans.  If you choose to use canned beans you will have this pot of beans ready to enjoy in under an hour. 

This is a brief description of the process, be sure to scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements and instructions:

  1. Cook the red beans according to the manufacturers directions. If using the canned beans, rinse them under cold water and drain them.
  2. Use a large dutch oven or soup pot to cook the ground beef. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeno peppers.
  3. Add the seasonings and chipotle peppers. Stir to combine well then stir in the reserved beans.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to its lowest point. Cover and simmer.
  5. Serve with a garnish of fresh cilantro and plenty of toppings.

Tip for Success

  • Save the extra chipotle peppers. When you open a can of chipotle chili peppers, you will not need to use all of them. You can save the extra chipotle peppers along with the adobo sauce for another recipe.

    I like to puree the remainder in a mini-food processor or mash them with a fork. Then I scoop spoonfuls of the puree onto parchment paper and freeze it. After it is frozen, I place them into a plastic bag and keep them in the freezer.
  • Cook the dry beans separately. Dry beans do not cook well if they get cooked with acidic foods like tomatoes. If you cook the dry beans separately, they will have a better texture. Add the beans to the tomato mixture AFTER they cook.
A large pot filled with chili and red beans.

Toppings for Chili Beans

The best part about eating chili beans is adding all the toppings. Here are some suggestions to pile on this hearty bowl of stew.

  • Sliced green onions
  • Shredded Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese
  • Avocado chunks
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Sour cream dollops
A bowl of chili beans with cheese on top.

What to Serve With This Homemade Beefy Chili Beans

An easy no-knead focaccia bread with a drizzle of garlic butter sauce would be lovely with a bowl of chili beans. You could also add a crisp tossed green salad to the menu.  And how about dessert?  Make it something easy like a dish of vanilla ice cream with homemade salted caramel sauce!

A bowl and spoon with chili beans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Freeze Chili Beans?

This recipe makes a good size pot of chili beans, luckily, they freeze and reheat very well. To freeze, scoop into lidded containers, label with the date, and place into the freezer for up to three months.

Can I Use Canned Beans?

Yes, you can!  I love cooking up my own bag of dry beans but often, when I am in a hurry I use canned beans for their convenience.  If you choose to use the canned beans be sure to rinse and drain them of their canning liquid before adding to the rest of the ingredients.

Should I cook dry beans before adding them to chili?

It is best to cook the beans first. Acidic foods like tomatoes prevent dry beans from cooking adequately. If you cook the dry beans separately then they will have a better texture and flavor.

How do I convert dry beans to canned beans?

A half-cup of dry beans will make about the same amount of beans in a 15-ounce can. A one-pound bag of dry beans will make the equivalent of approximately 6 cans of beans.

Helpful Tools:

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A large Dutch oven or stockpot. Misen makes a great stainless steel heavy-duty stockpot and we love their Dutch oven that comes with a lid that you can use as a grill.

Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Our Chili Relleno Casserole is a twist on the old favorite chili relleno but in a casserole form. There is no frying here and we added some heat from the Pepper Jack cheese and spicy salsa. Try it, it’s guaranteed to be a hit!

This classic beef stew dish features lean beef chunks, veggies, herbs, and red wine in a slightly thickened delicious sauce. This beef stew is a filling and nutritious one-pot dinner.

Our Chipotle Black Bean Soup is vegetarian and totally delicious! And did we mention it is ‘Budget Friendly’? You will love this easy soup, it has a bit of a kick from the chipotle. We smashed a portion of the black beans to give a smooth texture to the soup.

A bowl of chili beans with cheese on top.

Homemade Chili Beans with Beef

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

We are starting with dried red beans and making this pot of chili beans from scratch.

This recipe has a nice bit of heat to it from the spices and a chipotle pepper but it is not so hot that it distorts the flavors of the rest of the dish. There is a generous amount of lean ground beef which, with the vegetables and savory herbs all lend flavor to the beans.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry red beans or 4 cans (14.5 ounces each) beans of choice
  • 2 pounds lean (15%) ground beef chuck
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 green jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cans (14.5 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, mashed to a paste
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smokey paprika
  • Fresh Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook the red beans according to the manufacturers’ directions, drain and reserve. If using the canned beans, rinse them under cold water and drain and reserve.
  2. In a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat, add the ground beef breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the salt over the ground beef and cook until brown. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and chopped jalapeno peppers and continue to cook until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the cilantro, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle pepper, broth, chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and paprika. Stir to combine well then stir in the reserved beans.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to its lowest point, put a lid on the pot, and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
  5. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro.

Notes

When opening a can of these hot chipotle peppers, if you find that you do not use all of them, puree them in a mini-food processor. Scoop spoonfuls of the puree onto parchment paper and freeze it. After frozen, place them into a plastic bag and keep them in the freezer. Thaw and use as needed.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 216Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 488mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 29g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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This recipe was originally published on 9/28/2015. We updated the post with fresh photos.

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John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 24th of November 2021

Yum! Like anything and everything chili. These beans look terrific. Just need a biscuit or piece of cornbread, and I'm all set. :-)

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 24th of November 2021

Thanks John

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