Small-Batch Chili


Sometimes you just need a few bowls of chili instead of a big batch. This chili recipe makes a cozy dinner for four or two that hits the spot on a cold winter night!

Small-Batch Chili
Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
35 mins

This classic small-batch chili recipe will save you time, headaches, and fridge space! A smattering of green bell peppers and a sprinkling of chili powder balance the meaty flavor of the beef, kidney beans, and tomato sauce. The basil on top gives the whole dish a fresh aroma and flavor. The shredded cheddar cheese and cream cheese may be optional, but any dairy-lover's chili isn't complete without it. If you'd rather skip the lactose, there's always the hot pepper sauce waiting to spice up your meal. There are no wrong choices when it comes to this chili recipe.

If you want a cooking challenge, go the extra mile and prepare this chili Cincinnati-style. Leave the bell pepper in the fridge and bring some warm, spicy flavor to the dish with cinnamon, cocoa powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. This Cincinnati original uses classic Mediterranean spices which bring a warm, sweet flavor. Serve over spaghetti and pile high with cheddar cheese, chopped onions, and/or kidney beans. The choice is yours.

If you're planning a more intimate dinner for two, never fear. Just split our recipe in two and prepare as directed. This small-batch chili recipe is versatile and delicious, no matter how many people you're serving. Just sit back and let the flavor speak for itself!


  • 1 pound ground beef

  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper (1 small)

  • ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)

  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic (4 cloves)

  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

  • 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, undrained

  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

  • 2 - 3 teaspoon chili powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon dried basil, crushed

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

  • Dairy sour cream (optional)

  • Bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)


  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven cook and stir ground beef, green pepper, onion, and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender; drain off any excess fat.

  2. Stir in tomato sauce, kidney beans, tomatoes, chili powder, salt, basil, and black pepper until well combined.

  3. Bring to boiling and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

  4. If desired, top each serving with cheese and/or sour cream. If you'd like more spice, try adding some hot pepper sauce on top.

Chili for Two Variation

  1. Prepare as above, except cut all ingredients in half.

Cincinnati-Style Chili Variation

  1. Prepare as above, except omit green bell pepper. With tomato sauce, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Omit the basil and optional garnishes.

  2. Serve each serving of chili over 1/2 cup hot cooked spaghetti and top with 1 to 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped sweet onions, and/or 1/4 cup additional kidney beans. You can top this chili recipe with hot sauce if you'd like more heat.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

381 Calories
15g Fat
35g Carbs
32g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 381
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 71mg 24%
Sodium 1265mg 55%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Protein 32g
Calcium 111.1mg 9%
Iron 5.2mg 29%
Potassium 905mg 19%

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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