Easy chili made with pantry ingredients and packed with flavor? It’s not too good to be true, I promise.
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The Easiest Chili
Seriously. This is it. The easiest chili you’ll ever make. I intentionally developed this recipe to be packed with flavor with minimal effort.
This recipe was invented out of necessity. One night, fridge looking rather bare, and the will to cook a complex meal drained from me with the fatigue of the week, I had a craving. Chili cheese fries. I had an abundance of vegan cheese (I’m lacto intol) and a NEED for something cheesy, carby and savory.
I decided to attempt to whip up a quick chili to serve as a condiment to my fries. It wasn’t supposed to be the star of the dish. But the star it became.
Feel free to adjust this recipe as needed. The spices can become totally your own. Though I would advise not going crazy with the salt, since canned beans, enchilada sauce AND chorizo (vegan or otherwise) already all contain a fair amount of sodium.
What you need to make 3 Ingredient Chili
Of course, you probably know by now. It’s only three ingredients. (That, and half your spice cabinet, if you desire. If not, just use whatever you have on hand that makes it tasty for you.)
Here they are. Our superheroes:
- Red kidney beans
- Red enchilada sauce
- Chorizo (soy or regular)
Red Kidney Beans
A staple in traditional chili, red kidney beans mash easily, but retain their shape well when simmered. In this recipe, we’ll simple add the whole can to the chili, undrained. Why? Because all that bean juice contains additional flavor (and liquid) to fortify the chili. In a pinch, it’s quicker and more flavorful, to add the entire contents of the can, not just the beans.
Feel free to use low sodium beans if desired. If you aren’t inclined toward red kidney beans, cannellini beans (white beans) or pinto beans would make a satisfactory substitute. Black beans typically have a distinct flavor that may change the overall flavor of the dish. However, if that’s what you prefer, then experiment away! Let us know how it turns out in the comments below.
Red Enchilada Sauce
For this recipe, you’ll only need a cup (8 oz) of enchilada sauce. I reached for enchilada sauce when developing this recipe because it contained so many cornerstone ingredients of traditional chili including tomato puree, onion, garlic and chiles. I prefer the El Pato brand, but feel free to substitute with your favorite.
Since we’ll only be using a small amount in this recipe, here’s some other ways to use enchilada sauce (besides of course, for enchiladas):
- Marinades for pork and chicken
- Add to soups
- Freeze into cubes and add to any dish that needs some quick flavor
Chorizo of Choice
3 ingredient chili is equally delicious with soy chorizo, or regular. The choice is up to you! Cacique and Reynaldo’s are both good, affordable brands for both soy and regular chorizo.
Chorizo is a great addition to this recipe, as it contains so much flavor on its own. Full of spices and flavorful fat that combines with the enchilada sauce to make a quick and easy flavorful chili.
For this recipe, use Mexican chorizo, which is typically more spicy and sold in raw form. Spanish chorizo, on the other hand, has a more smoky flavor, thanks to the paprika. Additionally, Spanish chorizo is cured and smoked, making Mexican chorizo the best choice for this 3 ingredient chili.
3 Ingredient Chili Serving Ideas
There are many ways to serve this 3 ingredient chili. This recipe was developed to be served with other dishes, as opposed to a traditional chili, which stands well on its own. Here are some ways to make 3 ingredient chili a great, easy meal!
Chili Cheese Fries
Our first serving idea is a tribute to how this recipe came to be — chili cheese fries. Use your favorite frozen fries from the store, or make your own from scratch if you are feeling extra.
Change up the chili cheese fries by substituting waffle fries, or, my personal favorites, tater tots!
Baked Potato with Chili
Is there anything simpler than a baked potato? Pop the potatoes in the oven while you prepare the chili, and dinner will be ready in no time. Top with your favorite toppings, like sour cream, cheddar and chives.
Baked potato with 3 ingredient chili is a great easy weeknight meal, simple to prepare and relatively easy cleanup. A bonus? Potatoes, and the ingredients for the chili, are all inexpensive, making it budget friendly to boot.
Chili Mac (and Cheese)
Ever had chili mac? If not, you are missing out. A combination of classic creamy mac and cheese and spicy, savory chili, chili mac makes the perfect meal for a cozy night in. Make your own mac and cheese from scratch, or use a boxed mix for something quick, easy and affordable.
To make chili mac, simply make your mac and cheese and usual, then add the finished 3 ingredient chili over the top and serve.
If you are vegan (or just lactose intolerant like me), I recommend using Annie’s Vegan Mac and Cheese. It’s easy to have in the pantry and super convenient! Or, make your own vegan mac and cheese powder to have in the cabinet whenever you get the craving for a good mac and cheese.
Another classic, chili dogs! Serve this 3 ingredient chili over your favorite hot dogs. This makes a great summer meal. Make a double batch for the next barbecue.
Since this recipe can be made vegan, you can easily serve it over your choice of plant-based hot dogs to keep it all vegan.
Chili and Cheesy Bread
Serve this chili with your choice of cheesy bread. Here are two options to get you started.
First, a Quick and Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread muffin recipe made using Jiffy Cornbread muffin mix. Spice it up with your choice of add-ins.
If you are feeling like making something out of the ordinary, try this recipe for Pão De Queijo. This traditional brazilian cheese bread is cheesy, soft and delicious. Tapioca flour melts with the cheese to make them so stretchy and delicious!
How to Make 3 Ingredient Chili
Making 3 ingredient chili couldn’t be simpler.
First, cook the chorizo in a medium saucepot. Using the saucepot to cook the chorizo ensures all the great flavor and fat from the chorizo is incorporated into the chili.
Next, add the enchilada sauce and the whole can of beans. Into that, stir in a medley of seasonings. Feel free to adjust the seasonings as needed to your own tastes, and what you have available in your spice cabinet.
Let simmer for about 20 minutes on the stove, to allow all the flavors to fully incorporate. Once done, adjust seasoning to taste. Then it’s ready to serve!
- In a medium saucepot, cook chorizo through. Use medium-high heat to brown the chorizo nicely, getting a variety of texture.
- Add 1 cup enchilada sauce and the whole can of red beans, undrained.
- Add all spices. Simmer 20 min on low heat.
- Add water as needed to thin or more enchilada sauce.
- Taste. Adjust seasoning as needed. Serve over fries, tater tots, alongside baked potatoes or cornbread. Enjoy however you'd like!