This easy beef chili may be controversial because of the carrots. But when you have to clean out the crisper, this chili recipe is the perfect vehicle for veggies about to go bad.
Normally, I prefer chili to be made with beans, protein (beef or turkey), and a variety of peppers. Some days though, you look in your fridge and all you see staring at you is carrots. Just carrots. I don’t know why I have 3 half-used bags of carrots, but I do.
I’ve used sweet potatoes and butternut squash in chili and I figured, they’re both sweet and starchy like carrots, so it should work.
And it did! Though I don’t expect to win any competitions with this chili, and I don’t expect to convert any chili purists. This recipe is for the people who end up with too many carrots or for those just looking to sneak in some extra veggies into their chili.
The resulting chili has just a subtly sweet undertone with plenty of heat thanks to Cobanero chili flakes.
How to make this easy beef chili recipe with carrots:
First, cook the beef in a bit of oil. I like a very well-seasoned chili, so I season everything along the way. The beef is seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, Cobanero chili flakes, paprika, and cumin for good measure. Once the beef is well-browned, transfer it to a bowl.
Add a bit more oil, if needed, and then add a diced onion, diced hot pepper (such as red Fresno or jalapeño, and diced carrots) and cook until they begin to sweat. Add the remaining spice mixture and let it bloom in the hot pot for about 1 minute, stirring it regularly.
Next, add the liquid. I used water, but feel free to use beef stock. From there, simply add the black beans, a can of diced green chiles, and a big can of fire-roasted tomatoes. Top off with more water or stock, if needed, and then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 30–45 minutes or until thickened. The carrots should be completely tender. You can mash the carrots into the pot as they cook if you like. Season to taste and that’s it!
If you have corn tortillas and want to make homemade corn chips, great. Simply fry them up in hot oil as the chili cooks and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt while they are still hot. If you don’t have corn tortillas, serve the chili with bagged tortilla chips or omit them.
Looking for more beef recipes? Check my archives!
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Easy Beef Chili
- Large pot
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons Cobanero chili flakes or use crushed red pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil plus more as needed
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 1 red Fresno chili pepper trimmed and diced
- 3 small carrots peeled and small-diced
- 1 ½ cups water or beef stock plus more if needed
- 7- ounce can diced green chiles
- 15- ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
- 28- ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes excess liquid drained off
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Neutral oil
- 5 corn tortillas cut into 2” strips
- Flaky sea salt
- Crème fraîche or sour cream
- Shredded cheese
Prepare the spice mixture:
- Gather the spice mixture ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
Brown the beef:
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add the beef and cook for 6–7 minutes, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Add half the spice mixture and toss to coat. Continue cooking until the ground beef develops a golden-brown crust around the edges, 8–10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a bowl.
Cook the aromatics:
- If needed, add a touch more oil to the pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, red Fresno pepper, and carrots, and cook for 6–7 minutes until they begin to sweat and just start to soften. Season with salt.
Bloom the spices:
- Add the remaining spice mixture to the onions and carrots and toss to coat. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Simmer the chili:
- Pour in the water or beef stock and bring to a boil. Add the beans, green chiles, and tomatoes. Add the cooked beef back to the pot. If needed, add a bit more water to ensure the ingredients are covered—taste and season with salt. If you like, add brown sugar.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes until the chili is thickened and the carrots are very tender. Stir the chili occasionally to prevent it from sticking, and add more liquid as needed. Mash the carrots against the side of the pot as the chili cooks. Taste and season once more to your preferences before turning off the heat.
Fry the corn chips:
- In a skillet or pot, add 1/2”–1” of oil to the pot. Turn the heat to medium-high. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the sliced corn chips and fry, occasionally turning, for 3–4 minutes or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the oil and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Immediately sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with the corn chips, crème fraîche, and shredded cheese if you like. Enjoy!