How to make chili beans from scratch

Making family memories

There are people who are perfectly happy to eat chili with or without beans from the can, others will use a combination of fresh meats, and vegetables, and add this homemade, or partially homemade portion of a recipe to several cans of prepared beans of one or more varieties.

While this will do in a pinch if you don’t have half the day to wait, to prepare really homemade chili beans is a labor of love, for your family, for your friends, or maybe just to satisfy your own inner cravings for real homemade chili beans.

Then again, there are those who derive a lot of satisfaction from preparing chili beans, (with or without meat) from scratch. They may use canned tomatoes, or tomato sauce, but there really is a big difference between canned and homemade chili beans, whether you like meat(s) added to the recipe or not.

The aroma wafts throughout your kitchen and dining area, and possibly even into the living room, as well. A meal made completely from scratch is getting to be a rare treat in many homes, and that is really too bad.

Don’t you recall when you were a child returning home from school, entering the door, to a pleasant aroma of food being prepared or cooking in readiness for dinner when your dad would return from a log day a work? That really is one of life’s binding memories for many, and something many of the younger generations may not have for their memories of childhood.

This is a from scratch, cook for four or five hours recipe. It will be a special dish, even if it is something as relatively simple as chile beans. This is a very hearty meal, whether or not it is served over rice, or with corn bread and lemonade, or beer, or a soft drink. It is one of those meals that most people just love to eat, especially at meals when many people are gathering together for fun and games, etcetera.


Step 1

Bean Preparation:

If you are using dried beans:

  • Soaking all night option:

For each pound of dried beans, first clean and rinse beans well under running water in a colander large enough to contain the full amount of beans you are preparing. You want to be sure there is no soil or other trash left over from the farm and processing. Move the beans around, allowing the water to throughly rinse the beans.

Allow the beans to sit overnight, or at least eight hours to absorb the water and rehydrate the beans.

  • Soaking for one hour in boiled water option:

After cleaning and rinsing the beans as described above:

Use a saucepan that is large enough to hold all the beans you will be using, as well as at least 6 to 8 cups of water per pound of beans.

Add beans and water to saucepan. (do not add salt or seasoning to this mix).

Bring to a rolling boil, then lower the flame just enough to allow the beans to continue to boil, but so much as to overflow the sauce pan.

Allow to boil for about 5 minutes.

Shut off fire, cover beans and allow to soak for at least one hour.


  • After the beans have rehydrated, and before your cook the beans, be sure you drain the water that was used for soaking, whether they soaked overnight, or using the quick one hour soaking.
  • While beans are soaking, you can begin preparation of the meats and seasonings.
Step 2

Meat Preparation:

You can either cook all of your meats together, or separately.

A wok is a good choice of pans for preparing these ingredients, especially if you don’t happen to have a skillet large enough.

Combined meat version:

Add your meats (or meat) to the pan, and cook on a medium fire, breaking it up, so it is in small pieces to that when your meal is served every spoonful with have not only beans, but also a healthy bite of meat.

Cook the meat so it is fully cooked, but not caramelized. Once you have cooked the meat, add your onions, garlic, and salt and pepper. You may need to add some cooking oil, to prevent ingredients sticking to the pan.

Step 3

Cooking chili:

Now that you have your meats, onions, etcetera combined and cooked, add the uncooked, rehydrated beans to your cooking pot, or crock pot, along with the meats, and all the vegetables you are planning to add to the chili beans:

  • Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, the salt, pepper, chili peppers, and any of the other ingredients that you may have opted to add.
  • Depending on what kind of pork meat you add, you may have to adjust the salt later in the cooking process, as some sausages have more salt than others, and you don’t want to overdo the salt.
  • Be sure you have enough tomato sauce, as you may have to add more as the chili beans cook.
  • Add water sufficient to cover the entire mix and cover with a lid.
  • Turn the crock pot on high, and go about your business. It may be a good time to do some shopping, or take in a movie.
  • Allow at least four to six hours for the chili beans to cook. When you get back home, check the chili, and if necessary, as more water, and correct the salt to taste.
  • It is a personal choice when it comes to how thick or thin you like your sauce in your chili beans, so monitor that, and adjust according to your liking.
  • If you decide to allow the chili beans to cook overnight, leave it on the high or low setting. For some
  • reason, if you leave it on the warm or medium setting, it seems to change the flavor of the chili beans.


If you do leave it cooking overnight, be sure you have added water sufficient to prevent burning or sticking to the crock pot. It actually will have a better developed taste if it does cook overnight.

Step 4

To serve:

Now, when you finally get to serve your homemade chili beans (with or without meat) be sure you have something great to accompany your chili beans.

If you didn’t add the whole kernel corn, you can either use it now, or opt for cornbread, (hopefully also made from scratch) along with a nice side dish of green beans, or a wonderfully simple salad.

Don’t forget to serve either fresh lemonade, or wonderful southern iced tea. If that’s not to your liking, how about either some ice cold soft drink, or even your favorite ice cold adult beverage. Beer maybe?


Now that you have attempted this adventure in hearth warming, why not experiment with this recipe so the next time you make it, you can customize it so that it becomes «your speciality» for many special cold weather dinners, and many big family gatherings. It should also be a welcome addition to the next block party in your neighborhood..

Things Needed
• A crock pot or other stovetop cooking pot large enough to contain and cook the entire amount of ingredients you are planning to prepare.
• 2 pounds dried beans (pintos, pinks, kidney, or white beans, it’s your choice) You can also combine two different varieties if you choose.
• 1 pound lean ground beef (you can substitute stew beef cut into smaller bite sized pieces, if you like)
• 1 pound ground turkey
• 1 pound chorizo (mexican pork sausage with added chili powder)
• 1 or 2 large onions (diced to your desired size)
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic (minced finely) You can also use powdered garlic, or even other garlic, such as Kirklands garlic in jars that is finely diced.
• Tomatoes (to taste) You can use either fresh or canned diced tomatoes, with or without seasoning.
• 32 ounces tomato sauce (to taste)
• 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper to taste
• corn (whole kernel) fresh or canned (optional)
• 1 16 ounce can Black olives, drained, whole or cut up (optional)
• chili pasilla (this is a chili powder that is not hot, but will add flavor, as well as color to your chili
• Tobasco or your favorite hot sauce (to taste)
• Chile Jalapenos (hot green peppers) canned or fresh, skinned, and seeds removed. (optional)

Tips & Warnings
• Be careful not to add too much salt when you add all your ingredients, as the chorizo, or other pork sausage may contain enough salt to make the chili too salty if you add two teaspoons of salt.
• Make sure your chili beans and meat mixture is covered with plenty of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and water before leaving home, as you certainly don’t want the juices to evaporate, and not have enough liquid to prevent your chili from sticking or burning.
• Taste test your chili beans every now and then, so you can adjust the seasonings to your liking.
• Don’t forget, some people like their chili beans spicier that do others. If necessary, put a bottle of hot sauce on the table when you serve the chili, so if it isn’t as hot as some may like it, they can always add more hot sauce.


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