Busy Weeknight Bean Chili

October 15, 2018

Author Notes:

You’re five ingredients away from this for dinner. Bonus points for toppings like grated cheddar, chopped scallion, and sour cream.

Emma Laperruque

Food52 Review: This is one of our Big Little Recipes. Read more here: A 5-Ingredient Chili That Tastes Like It Took All Day (But It Didn't).The Editors

Serves: 6
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 pinches kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans kidney beans, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 large onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 green poblanos, finely diced (about 1 heaping cup)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups water, plus more as needed
In This Recipe


  1. Drain and rinse 1 can of kidney beans. Dump onto a cutting board and roughly chop.
  2. Set a large soup pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter. When it’s melted and just starting to smell nutty, add the chopped beans. Spread into an even layer, then don’t touch! Fry for about 6 minutes until crispy. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  3. Immediately add another 2 tablespoons butter to the pot. When it’s melted, add the chili powder. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds until it’s very fragrant—but not longer, or else it will burn. Add the onions, poblanos, and a big pinch of salt. Stir to completely coat the vegetables in the chili butter. Cook, stirring every so often, for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft; lower the heat and add a small splash of water as needed to prevent any burning.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the second can of beans.
  5. When the vegetables are soft, add the canned tomatoes and their juices. Smash with a spoon to roughly break up the tomatoes. Add the water, chopped-fried beans, whole beans, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and another big pinch of salt. Adjust the heat to bring to a simmer.
  6. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the flavors are full and delicious to you. Taste and adjust the salt again if necessary.

More Great Recipes:

Reviews (22) Questions (1)

22 Reviews

cchalk05 January 1, 2019
Great recipe! Tasty and warm. Used vegan butter and it was delish. I couldn't get the kidney beans crispy but they still added a nice texture. <br />
cchalk05 January 1, 2019
Great recipe. Best chili we've had. Did a vegan version with non-butter. The red beans didn't get real crispy. Any ideas?
Dakota B. December 31, 2018
Love this recipe! The browned butter and fried beans adds so much dimension. I substituted the water for bone broth & reduced the added salt. Topped with cheese, avocado & scallions. Amazing.
Author Comment
Emma L. December 31, 2018
Thanks so much, Dakota!
Shawn A. December 22, 2018
Ive never like chili to be honest but i entertain a lot on weekends and one of them is a vegetarian so i just had to try again. Its the BEST chili Ive ever had. Ive made it about 5 times now when the day gets ahead of me and the only ingredient i have to pick up is the peppers. Its an affordable way to entertain a bigger group too! I add a little more spice but find these peppers just nicely warming without taking over and i put a dot of yogurt on top for good measure. Its not like any other chili I've tried thanks for such a great recipe.
Author Comment
Emma L. December 23, 2018
Thank you so much, Shawn! I'm so happy to hear that the recipe has become a go-to for you.
Dale D. October 29, 2018
We made this for lunch today and it is really good. It has a meaty flavor with no meat in it. My wife who follows Weight Watchers said this was a keeper and relatively low in points.
Author Comment
Emma L. October 29, 2018
Thanks, Dale! So glad that you and your wife enjoyed.
Emily W. October 28, 2018
How much kick does this chili have? I’m wondering if I need to tone it down for my young kids.
Author Comment
Emma L. October 28, 2018
Hi Emily! I personally don't consider it super spicy—with the butter added at the end and especially if you serve sour cream (or yogurt, etc) on top. But always better safe than sorry: You could drop the chili powder to 2 tablespoons or even 1 1/2, then add more at the end if need be.
Tammy B. October 25, 2018
Made this chili earlier in the week and it is so delicious! I love the quick cooking time and limited ingredient list. I couldn't believe how flavorful it was! Topped with sour cream, sharp cheddar and scallions as suggested and it was perfect. Just finished off a bowl of leftovers for lunch and still so yummy. Quick dinners like this that give me lunch leftovers are my saving grace throughout the work week!
Author Comment
Emma L. October 25, 2018
Thank you so much, Tammy!
eliza October 24, 2018
Very good & fairly quick to make. I used powdered chilis I roasted & combined (New Mexico + ancho + chile piquin) since I prefer my own blend. I added lots of garlic. We found the chili tasty but too much like soup. Hooray for leftovers! The day after, I added half a cup of bulgur after soaking it in boiling water for half an hour, which gave it a thicker, coarser consistency. Good topped with avocado, chopped cilantro, squeeze of lime & a dab of creme fraiche. Yes, this is "riff-worthy"!
Author Comment
Emma L. October 25, 2018
Hooray for garlic! Bulgur is such a fun idea, too—I've been eating quinoa chili all week for lunches.
Loris October 21, 2018
Delicious! I added two small red and yellow bell peppers, reduced water to one cup, and reduced butter to five tbs. Very flavorful and filling.
mrslarkin October 21, 2018
Made this the other night for dinner. Loved it! Thanks, Emma!
mayfrates October 20, 2018
I made this according to the recipe and it is so good!! Frying the beans and toasting the chili powder resulted in big flavor!
Author Comment
Emma L. October 21, 2018
Awesome! So happy to hear that.
Margaret G. October 19, 2018
Delicious! Because my husband loves meat I added 1 pound ground turkey and half pound of Italian sausage. It was a big hit.
Author Comment
Emma L. October 21, 2018
That's great! Love how you made it your own.
Hollis E. October 17, 2018
i like this recipe, but i must have some meat with my beans, always. so i'd add some sausage or bacon at the start, then fry up the beans in the grease. i also don't have poblanos; just a mess of jalapenos and serranos, along with Hatch green chili powder. i don't keep red beans around; just cannellinis, black-eyes, chickpeas, butterbeans, and then a mess of dried. i think black-eyes will go with bacon and jalapenos, turning this *bean chili* into a version of black-eyed peas with bacon, chilies, and tomatoes. and i don't think okra will go with the chilies, but i'm thinking some collards will. now i'll have to revise my toppers -- no cheese with the black-eyes or collards, or sour cream, either, but definitely some of my Tabasco garlic or Scorpion sauce. maybe a spoon or two of salsa verde, too.
Author Comment
Emma L. October 21, 2018
Chili is endlessly riff-worthy! Thanks for sharing all these fun possibilities.