This Classic Chili for a crowd recipe is perfect for game day, big family dinners or gatherings. I like to make a big pot of chili and freeze the leftovers for a quick meal later.
Making Classic Chili for a Crowd
The crisp days of fall are almost here and Halloween is around the corner. I love Halloween and my classic chili recipe is a big part of it.
My kids are a bit beyond trick or treating. To be perfectly honest, I was never thrilled about those plastic masks and the jog from house to house to fill up a pillow case to the brim with candy. Several years ago we started a tradition of making chili for a crowd and serving it to our neighbors along with grilled hot dogs in our driveway. Sometimes I make Candy Corn Cupcakes too. Everyone in the neighborhood stops by and we even get a few vegetarians that sneak a hot dog in that day.
When Halloween falls on a Saturday, the festivities go on a little longer. After the candy is given out there might be some pumpkin beer or spiked cider involved in the celebration for the adults only, of course. A big pot of chili goes great with beer and on hot dogs.
I try different kinds of beans every time I make it. It all depends on what I have in the pantry. I have used white beans, pinto beans, black beans and red kidney beans. They are all good. And if you don't like beans, I make a low carb chili that leaves the beans out.
You can easily double or triple this classic chili recipe and the leftovers freeze well. It's always nice to pull some frozen chili out of the freezer on a busy night. Whether you are making chili for 20 people or 6, this recipe is great because you can have extra for another meal.
This chili can be used in tacos or served over rice. I like to have a big bowl with a slice or two of cheesy beer bread. It's also great to scoop up with tortilla chips. I also love topping hot dogs cooked in the air fryer with it for the easiest week night dinner. Chili is the best comfort food.
Make a big pot of chili for a crowd and enjoy the leftovers too!
- ground beef - or use another type of ground meat like turkey or chicken
- beans - canned can be a real time saver
- oil - my favorite is always olive oil
- chopped peppers- vary the color and hotness to your taste. Bell peppers are sweet and jalepenos are hot so adjust the amount according to what you like.
- chopped onions - gives lots of flavor and I dice themn small and they dessolve. My husband likes the taste but not the chunks of onion oin his chili.
- tomatoes - canned crushed tomatoes are very convenient
- seasonings - I use various seasonings plus some fresh cilantro. Again different tastes vary so use less or more of both chili and cumin powder.
- hot sauce if you like chili hot
- In a large Dutch oven or sauce pan, heat olive oil to medium high heat. Add ground beef. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain any extra grease.
- Add bell peppers, onions and jalapeno peppers. Cook on low until vegetables are wilted. Add beans, cilantro, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and sugar. Cook on low while stirring occasionally. If chili gets too thick a little water can be added to thin out.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hot sauce and garnish if desired.
See recipe card below for exact ingredient amounts and directions.
Buying ground beef
- If you can, look for beef that's been ground in-store on the same day you're buying.
- Even better, if you can request for a butcher to grind it for you on the spot, you'll know you're getting the freshest product available.
- 80/20 ground beef is widely considered the perfect blend for things like burgers or this chili. It may seem like this is a lot of fat, but most of it ends up rendering out during cooking and you can drain any excessive grease.
How do I buy the best bell peppers?
- Your peppers should be thick and firm, with a nice shiny skin. Regardless of what type they are, the color should be solid and vibrant.
- If the pepper looks at all shriveled or has major blemishes or soft spots, it's best to stay away.
- While most bell peppers are at the peak of in-season during the summer and early fall, you should be able to find quality peppers all throughout the year.
How do I buy the best jalapenos?
There tends to be a large variation in the hotness of these peppers, and if you want your chili hotter or milder, here are some tips.
- For milder jalapenos, look for peppers that are smooth and don’t have many blemishes.
- Hotter peppers will have white stress marks in their skin, which comes from aging, and typically indicates a hotter flavor.
- Much of the pepper’s heat is concentrated around the seeds, so if you scrape them out before adding the pepper, you can slowly add them back in until your chili is the desired spiciness.
How do I buy the best onions?
- Almost all dry varieties of onions (red, yellow, white) abide by the same principles: look for onions that are firm and have no wet spots. The neck part of the onion should also be dry and tight.
- Onions can last for up to four weeks if they’re stored somewhere cool and dry.
- For an onion that’s been chopped already, though, the remainder should be wrapped in plastic, stored in the fridge, and used within a day or two.
How many servings does this pot of chili make?
- This pot of chili makes 18 servings so it's perfect for a crowd or if you would like some leftovers. (See below for storing.)
- Make sure your chili has cooled to room temperature before storing. Transfer the chili to an airtight plastic container or a ziploc bag and keep it in the fridge. It should last for at least 3 days!
- You can also freeze your chili for a crowd in case you've made too much and know you'll want to pull it out again down the road. Use the same method as storing in the fridge; it should last 2 months or so in the freezer. I also like to freeze cooked rice and heat both up at the same time for a super quick supper!
- To reheat your chili, either cook it on the stovetop or in the microwave. Ensure you cook until the chili boils to kill any bacteria that may be present. From frozen, allow the chili to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Chili Recipe Variations
- Ground chicken or turkey can be used in place of the ground beef.
- Chili is a great dish to decorate with a variety of toppings. Try sprinkling some cheddar or pepper jack cheese, corn or tortilla chips, or sour cream and avocado.
- For even more health factor, add more vegetables! Corn or chopped squash would make delicious additions.
- You can easily turn this classic chili recipe into a completely different dish by serving it with cooked pasta.
- Seasonings are another great way to switch up the flavors. Use garlic, chipotle powder, or red pepper flakes to change the flavor profile and highlight different ingredients as you see fit!
What to Serve with Chili
- Homemade Cornbread from Bless This Mess
- Cheese Beer Bread
- Air Fryer Baked Potatoes
- Baked Corn Dogs via The Baker Mama
More Game Day Recipes
- Super Easy Guacamole
- Buffalo Chicken Flatbread with Bacon
- Best Steak Tacos
- Spicy Oven Fried Chicken
- Spinach Artichoke Dip from Tastes Better From Scratch
If you like this classic chili recipe for a crowd, please give it a 5- star rating below.
Big Crowd Chili
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 3 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 large red bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
- 5 jalapeno peppers seeded and minced
- 3 cans 15 oz beans, rinsed and drained (you can use your favorite)
- ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
- 6 cups pureed fresh tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes can be used
- 2 TBS chili powder
- 1 TBS ground cumin powder
- 2 TBS sugar
- salt and cayenne pepper to taste
- hot sauce fresh chopped cilantro and shredded cheddar cheese for garnishing and serving
- In a large Dutch oven sauce pan, heat olive oil to medium high heat. Add ground beef. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain any extra grease.
- Add peppers, onions and jalapeno peppers. Cook on low until vegetables are wilted. Add beans, cilantro, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and sugar. Cook on low for 1 ½ hours while stirring occasionally. If chili gets too thick a little water can be added to thin out.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hot sauce and garnish with cilantro and cheese if desired.