Chili, the way you like it, is the easiest route to dinner

Illustrated animation of a can of beans and a package of ground beef dancing in a rain of paprika, cumin and coriander
Ground spices like cumin, dried oregano and mixed chili powder add the unmistakable “chili” flavor to ground beef and beans.
(Hanna Carter / For The Times)

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With so many of you having to stay home and cook for the first time — ever or more than you have in a long time — we get that it can be overwhelming to have to cook all your meals from scratch. So, we’re here to get you started.

Each day we’re going to post a new skill here and go in detail about how to do it — a resource for cooking basics so you can get food on the table and get through this.


A series of simple tutorials for making some basic recipes at home.

March 26, 2020

Lesson 56: Beef and Bean Chili
Several years ago, my partner and I spent a month in San Antonio, where his family lives. We were both unemployed at the time, so we spent the days driving around the city, exploring and eating all the wonderful food. We consumed a lot of chili.

We ate the “authentic” kind, consisting of cubed beef chuck or sirloin cooked in a mole-like gravy of hydrated and pureed dried chiles, and we ate plenty of the Tex-Mex kind, in which ground beef stands in for cubed and is seasoned with ground chili powder made from a mix of dried chiles, often of the New Mexico varietal.

Beans and tomatoes — highly contentious ingredients to add to chili in Texas — were found in several iterations we tried. After sampling so many, we decided that the ground beef version with beans — but with tomato paste and not canned tomatoes — was our favorite. It has been a staple of our quick weeknight dinners ever since.

Consisting of just ground beef, beans and spices, it’s incredibly easy to execute for beginner cooks (there’s nothing to even chop!) and is ready from start to finish in under 30 minutes. Once it’s ready, we dole it out in bowls and top it with cheese, sour cream and diced avocado. We use red onions and scallions because I like the sharp bite of the former and the vivid color of the latter. The only thing that’s not allowed in the chili is greens or vegetables of any kind — that would be sacrilege.

Easy Beef and Bean Chili

Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 4