If there's a more perfect winter comfort food than chili, we have yet to find it. It's simple to make, easy to scale up, and comes together in just one pot. Our hearty, spicy beef version needs little more than a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chives to shine, although a wedge of classic cornbread or a tangle of spaghetti, Cincinnati-style, doesn't hurt. And if you've still got some chili left over, or if you're looking for a new way to enjoy it, our test kitchen has got you covered. Our food editors are taking the stew to new heights, using it to make a pan of nachos, spooning it over polenta, and stuffing it into bell peppers. The best part? You can make all three recipes with just one batch of our simple beef chili.
Easy Beef Chili
No beans here! It's all about the meat in this fuss-free stew: ground beef is cooked with chili powder for heat and cocoa for richness, then simmered with fire-roasted tomatoes. You can and should make the chili ahead: leftovers keep beautifully in the refrigerator or freezer. You can also use ground turkey for a lighter chili or substitute pork if you're not a beef fan.
Skillet Chili Nachos
Two Super Bowl MVPs come together to make a truly, well, super appetizer. Chili is layered with tortilla chips, black beans, and cheddar cheese, and after a quick turn in the oven, garnished with radishes, jalapeños, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, and avocado. Take it from us, these nachos can go the distance beyond game day—they’re that good.
Chili with Polenta and Vegetables
Yes, chili can be elegant! Here, it's served atop a mound of creamy, buttery polenta and gilded with garlicky sauteed spinach and mushrooms. A spoonful of sherry vinegar gives the vegetables an extra boost of umami.
Bulked up with rice, the same chili makes a delicious filling for charred, roasted bell peppers. The vegetables are then baked in a pool of tomato sauce spiked with the spicy North African condiment known as harissa. Fluffs of fresh parsley dressed with lemon juice and olive oil act as a bright counterpoint.