An Easy & Fast Weeknight Chili Recipe (That’s Better Than Shana’s)


My chili is far superior to Shana’s.

And it’s not because mine is typically a meat-based chili and hers is vegan; mine can be made vegan, too! My recipe is just…well…better. She might admit this obvious fact if you ask when not too many people are around (ha, ha), although she did request I post my chili recipe after my Back-To-School, Back-To-Real-Dinners article, so that’s BASICALLY admitting my recipe is better.

So here’s a quick little recipe post for Shana (in case she’s considering switching chili recipes — reminder, this CAN be vegan), and for those of you who were kind enough to inquire after my recent post.

Penzeys' pre-mixed chili seasoning! It's my foolproof "cheat" for the most delicious chili. Happily, this chili is delicious, fast & easy.

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I would love to say that this chili is comprised of my own secret mix of spices that I roast, grind and mix myself (ha, ha), or that this recipe has been passed down for generations through my family, OR even that I slow cook this recipe for hours and hours and hours…

None of this is true. 

My secret?

Penzeys' pre-mixed chili seasoning! It's my foolproof "cheat" for the most delicious chili. Happily, this chili is delicious, fast & easy.

The Secret To My Easy Stovetop Chili Recipe (Hint: It’s The Seasoning)

Penzeys’ pre-mixed chili seasoning! It’s my foolproof “cheat” for the most delicious chili.

I also follow Penzey’s basic chili recipe (with a few tweaks, see below), and I NEVER cook it as long as they recommend. Happily, this chili is delicious, fast and easy.

Penzey’s spices are the best. I LOVE them! And you can’t go wrong with the Chili 3000 or Chili 9000 mix. I use them both. And as I wrote in my Weeknight Dinners post, I’m loving Our Place’s new Perfect Pot for big-batch soup and chili recipes…primarily because it’s much lighter weight than most dutch ovens, cleans up very easily, and has a cute place to rest the spoon in two spots (the spoon rest is initially REALLY what sold me!)  

Below you’ll see Penzey’s basic chili recipe that I follow as a loose guideline for Chili Night. I wrote in parentheses a few little changes and substitutions I incorporate. I often don’t have the exact ingredients on hand, or I decide to doctor it a bit (extra beans, extra heat, swapping out the meat, etc.,), but no matter what I do, Penzey’s spice mix is magic. It makes everything — however you combine it — de-licious!

My Easy Weeknight Chili Recipe

Easy & Fast Weeknight Chili (Featuring Penzey's Spices)

Easy & Fast Weeknight Chili (Featuring Penzey's Spices)


  • 2lbs Ground Beef (I usually use ground turkey instead. Sometimes pork sausage. Vegan? I use a combo of different types of beans -chickpeas, black, etc or meat substitutes)
  • 3 Tbsp oil (1 Tbps if using the Perfect Pot)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp chili 3000 or 9000 seasoning
  • 3 - 4 tsp Salt
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1 (26 oz) can tomato puree
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans chopped tomatoes with juices
  • 2 (15 oz) cans drained kidney beans (more if I'm making it vegan and I sometimes use other types of beans as well)
  • 2 - 3 TBSP cilantro (mixed in at the end
  • 1 tsp cayenne (if we want more heat)
  • TOPPINGS: Chips, Chili Toppings, chopped onions, avocado, cilantro


Brown meat or meat substitute. Drain fat and set meat aside.

Use 3 Tbsp oil (or 1 Tbsp if you're using the Perfect Pot) to saute the onions for 5 minutes or so, then add red pepper and continue sauteing for about 2 minutes.

Stir in the spice seasoning and cook for about 30 seconds (the spices will get super fragrant), then quickly add the water. (Cooking the spices BEFORE adding the liquids makes a difference...DON'T skip this step).

Stir in the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, beans, and salt. Add back in the meat or meat substitute (that was set aside). Boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Recipe calls for simmering on low for 3 hours (with stirring every 15 minutes). I never do this. Simmering for 30-45 minutes or so (on low) works just fine for us. I give it an occasional stir.

NOTE: I will often keep simmering the leftovers after dinner for extra flavor and then pack them away before bed. 

ADD INS: If I have cilantro, I'll mix it into the chili a few minutes before serving and then have extra on the table to add on top, in addition to cheese, sour cream, (obviously, you could switch out for vegan substitutes) and chopped onions. Avocado is good too.

If I want a bit more heat...I'll add Penzey's cayenne.

And that’s it!