This Easy Chili with Stew Meat is an easy to make chili recipe that slow cooks to perfection. Made with stew meat, crushed tomatoes, beans, spices and a little bit of cocoa powder and coffee. So tender and flavorful! Make this chili ahead of time for game day or a get together.
When the winter days get very cold, I crave soups, stews, and chilis. There are so many varieties of chili recipes. You can find recipes for white bean chili; slow-cooker white chicken chili; bean chili, no-bean chili (with ground meat, or ground turkey or chicken).
You will find vegan and vegetarian chilis. You may like a very spicy chili or a chili with just a touch of spice. It’s all up to you and your flavor preferences.
This delicious chili is dairy-free and gluten-free.
Watch my best Easy Chili with Stew Meat recipe web story here
This is a longer post with lots of tips. IF you happen to have a chili spice packet on hand that you like, go ahead and use that. I happen to have a pantry filled with all the different spices and seasonings. So the spice + seasoning list is long (but again, if you have a chili packet, use that plus the other ingredients like cayenne, cocoa, coffee).
Have you ever had a chili made with a touch of coffee and chocolate? It is so incredible! It’s really not that unusual. The combo of unsweetened cocoa with spices, chiles, nuts, and seeds is in the incredible Mexican mole sauce. It’s a sauce served with meats.
So, you’ll find in the Southern states chili recipes with this unusual combo. You’ll also find it in a Cincinnati chili (with the addition of some ground cinnamon). The Cincinnati chili recipe is a whole different conversation.
The thing is, there is not a wrong way of making chili. There are so many variations of this cozy and totally comforting dish that slowly simmers to perfection.
Chili was one of the first recipes I learned when I started cooking for friends. And this particular chili recipe came about inspired by my sister-in-law who makes the most incredible chili with cocoa, coffee and a strong dark beer! I make mine a little bit different (I left out the beer, but you could add some to replace some of the broth).
The unsweetened cocoa powder creates a layer of richness. The chocolate has a magical way of making the spices’ flavors pop. Adding to that a little bit of the coffee powder (or actual brewed coffee)also accentuates all of the chili spices.
Cocoa and coffee are secret ingredients that make the chili deeper and more luscious. It’s an unexpected and delicious combination of flavors.
Which is why I can’t stop making this chili! I’ve already made it three times in the last few weeks. First of all, because we have had really cold temps here. And the second and most important reason, is because I’ve been sharing it with friends and family that have wanted to try it out!
Why we love this recipe so much
This is a really simple but rich chili made with tender pieces of meat. The sauce has just the right amount of spice and deep layers of flavor.
It is truly a perfect meal on a cold day. Make it for the family for dinner or even to enjoy while watching a game on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There are the fans of chili with beans and chili without beans. This recipe has meat and beans. IF you’re looking for a delicious legume free chili, make this No-Bean Butternut Squash Chili.
How to make the best steak chili
Step 1: Gather all your ingredients.
Step 2: Dredge the meat in a little bit of flour. You could put it in a zipped bag and toss together or in a bowl, stir it all together to cover the meat.
Step 3: Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the meat pieces. Sear the meat until it’s got some color on both sides (should take about 10 minutes).
Step 4: Add in the onion and stir to combine. When the onion is translucent, add in the garlic and stir to combine.
Step 5: Add in the tomato paste and let it get some color. It will begin to darken and that’s when it’s time to add the spices in.
Step 5: Add in the tomatoes and stir to combine. Next, add in the beans and stir. Add some broth (or water). Start with 2 cups of the broth. Wait until the end to see if you need another 1/2-1 cup (if it’s too thick, add some more in).
Step 6: Add in all the spices, cocoa powder and granulated instant coffee.
Step 7: Stir it all together and add some salt and freshly ground pepper. Check the spices and add a dash or two of cayenne (depending on how hot you like it). Cover with lid, leaving partially, uncovered on a nice and slow simmer.
Step 8: When it’s almost ready, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (apple cider or balsamic vinegar work well for this recipe). Stir to combine. Taste the seasoning and add more salt or any of the spices
Can I make this chili in my slow cooker?
Yes, you absolutely can! Sear the meat first stove top (with the onions, garlic and tomato paste) and then add that to the slow cooker. Add in the canned tomatoes, beans, cocoa + coffee, and spices. Set for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
But here’s the thing, you can make this chili without the beans.
Do you have to make a meat chili with beans?
No, the chili does not have to have any beans. And from what I’ve heard, there are some areas of Texas where chili is absolutely made without any beans at all. So if you’re following Paleo, just cut out the beans!
Toppings for steak chili
Typically, I set out some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. But you may find this chili is so rich, that the chopped onions are all you need! And can’t forget, some chopped jalapeños. I’ve made this for friends, and they added on the cheese and sour cream and loved it. So completely up to you and your taste.
Most importantly, serve it with the toppings and Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread.
Our favorite way to top this stew meat chili:
- Red onion: pickled or chopped. I always have some homemade pickled onions in the refrigerator, so I add some on when I make this.
- Jalapeños: fresh or pickled (try our easy pickled jalapeños) , same thing like the red onions, it adds great flavor!
- Tortilla chips: whichever brand is your favorite.
- Cilantro: if you are a cilantro fan, some chopped fresh cilantro on top is really nice!
Tips to make the best stew meat chili:
- Drain and rinse whatever beans you use.
- Cut the stew meat into bite size, even pieces.
- Leftover steak could be repurposed in this chili.
- I used a 5 qt. Dutch oven, but use whatever large pot you have.
- Don’t forget to make a delicious cornbread, like Grandma’s Buttermilk Cornbread (it really is the most delicious combo!).
- Best to make this chili day before and refrigerate overnight. Helps all the flavors to really meld together and tastes even more incredible!
Can I use dry beans instead of canned beans in a chili?
Yes, you can. If you have time on your hands, soak dried beans the night before. You’ll have to cook the beans on a slow temperature.
The next day, add the beans to a large pot (or Dutch oven) covered with water (be sure to cover beans with 2 in.of water). Bring it to a boil for a few minutes. Remove the pot of beans from the heat. Cover and let it stand for 1 hour. When ready to get the chili going, drain and rinse out the beans (discard the water it was boiled in).
Which is the best meat for a chili?
I used stew meat, but you could use chuck steak. Or any cut of beef labeled “beef roast” or “stewing beef”. A lean meat like sirloin, porterhouse or rib-eye probably will be dry out too much in this chili recipe (so do not use those more expensive cuts of meat).
Can I make this chili with ground beef?
Yes, you can make it with ground beef. I’ve even made it with a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground turkey (so good!)in place of the stew meat.
Can I make this chili with ground turkey?
Yes, if you’re cutting red meat out of your diet, you could absolutely make this with ground turkey (or ground chicken). You’ll begin the recipe by cooking the ground turkey in the olive oil, and follow the rest of the recipe.
Can I make this chili vegan or vegetarian?
Yes, you could make this delicious chili vegan just by cutting out the meat and only using the beans. Also, leave out the honey (you could use some vegan sugar in its place). Add another can of beans (you could even add a can of cannellini beans or black beans.
Do I have to add cocoa powder to chili?
No, it’s not required to make a chili. But the addition of cocoa powder together (+ the coffee) with the spice from cayenne pepper is truly amazing. The cocoa powder makes the chili very rich and even luscious. I have seen recipes also where they add pieces of chocolate instead of the cocoa powder. And it melts away creating this mysterious flavor dimension that is absolutely delightful!
Why add a spoonful of vinegar to chili?
Well, this is from my mom’s chili making tips. She insists it’s not the same without a little bit of vinegar. She uses apple cider or even balsamic. Mom says it makes the spices and every thing else really POP! Mom also says go ahead and use the juice of two limes if you don’t have vinegar on hand.
Should chili be thin and soupy or thick?
Chili is always thicker. But here’s the thing, as it’s simmering away, the liquid does cook down. I usually do not add all the liquid in the beginning. I keep some broth (or water) to add in as it’s cooking away and if it seems too thick. So just check on your stew as it’s simmering, and if needed, you could loosen it up a bit. But chili should be thick (not soupy!). If you feel it’s too thin, let it simmer a little longer.
Served alongside a side of moist cornbread or topped with sour cream, cheese, or green onions, there’s also no wrong way to eat it.
This is enough for a family of 4 and there will be some leftovers (depending on how many portions everyone has).
What else can I make with leftover steak chili?
- If you are into savory for breakfast, scramble or fry some eggs and heat up some of the chili (serve with warm tortillas).
- Another idea is to make enchiladas. Wrap some corn tortillas with cheddar cheese and some onions and line up the tortillas rolled up in a casserole. Spoon the leftover chili on top and a sprinkle of some more cheese. Bake on 350F until it is heated through and the cheese is melted.
How to store a chili?
Let the chili completely cool down. Once it’s cooled, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a saucepan on medium-low to medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and it’s ready when it’s heated through.
Can I freeze steak chili?
Yes, it can be frozen. Simply let it cool down completely and add it to airtight freezer containers (or large zipped lock bag). Just be sure to date the container (or bag)and it will stay good for up to 3 months.
How to reheat frozen chili?
Let it defrost overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, add your portion to a sauce pan and heat on medium low. Stir it while it’s beginning to simmer and raise the heat to medium-medium-high and serve when it’s heated through.
Some other comfort recipes to enjoy:
- Ziti al Forno -Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce
- Pasta e Ceci-Italian Chickpea Soup
- Slow Roasted Italian Pork with Polenta
- Italian Wedding Soup
One last thing…I promise!
Just a quick request: if you enjoyed this really easy chili with stew meat as much as we did, would you kindly leave me a 5-star rating and a short (or long!)comment–the ratings are what helps get my recipes and hard work discovered, so I can keep leaving you more delish recipes!
Your comments mean the world to me….and I really SMILE when I read them. Thank you so much! XX
Easy Chili with Stew Meat
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds stewing beef
- ¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot starch or flour, if you're not gluten-free
- 1 large onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 5.5 ounce can tomato paste 1 small can
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 15.5-19 ounces kidney beans rinsed and drained 2 cans
- 3 cups beef bone broth unsalted
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons instant coffee grounds
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2-4 teaspoons salt
- ½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Chili Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 Tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon vinegar apple cider or balsamic
- Cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Add the meat to a large bowl and sprinkle on the cornstarch (or arrowroot starch or flour, if you’re not gluten-free). Use a spoon to combine the meat with the flour (I used my hands…it’s messy, but I toss it all around to coat the meat).
- You could also add (or the meat into a large zipped lock bag with the cornstarch, seal it, and shake to combine. Place a Dutch oven or a large pot on medium-medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add in the meat pieces.
- Stir and let the meat start to get some color on both sides (takes about 8-10 minutes). Once it’s getting a nice light brown color on both sides, add in the onions. Stir to combine and lower the heat a little if it’s too high. Add in another tablespoon of olive oil, if needed.
- Add in the chopped garlic and stir together.
- Add in the tomato paste and stir to combine. The tomato paste will start to darken and caramelize a bit.
- Add in the diced tomatoes. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot. Add in the beans and stir.
- Next, add in broth, starting with 1/2 the amount (1 1/2 cups of broth and if you don’t have any broth on hand, add water in its place).
- Add in all of the seasonings, cocoa powder and granulated coffee, and bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. After about one hour, check if chili needs some more broth (or water)and add another 1 - 1 1/2 cups...it's about 3 cups total of broth or water). Simmer the chili for 1 ½ hours. Check meat for tenderness. Add the vinegar and stir to combine.
- Check the flavoring, and add a dash of cayenne if you like it a little spicier. Check the salt and see if it needs a little bit more (I wanted a more rich flavor of coffee, so I added a little bit more during the last 30 minutes of cooking).
- Add in the vinegar and stir to combine. Continue to cook for another ½ hour, or until meat reaches desired tenderness (total cook time is about 2 hours).
- When the meat is tender and the texture is nice and thick and the seasoning is right, it's ready. Remove bay leaves.
- Plate out in bowls and serve with your favorite chili toppings. I used some chopped onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and tortilla chips. You could serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.
- Broth: Start out with 1/2 the broth and add more as it’s cooking. It may thicken so much before the stew meat is tender, that you may need to add a little more broth (you could also use water).
- If you like it spicy: add extra chili powder. Go slow with the spice. Start with less and add just a little bit more at a time to get to the level of heat you like. Or serve with jalapeños.
- Take care to simmer the chili nice and low and slow. Keep stirring it and making sure it’s not needing a little bit more broth (or water). A lot of the liquid from the tomatoes and broth cooks down while it’s simmering.
- I really love “Better than Bouillon” and add some of that if I don’t have homemade broth on hand.