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This quick and easy Cowboy Chili Recipe only needs 5 ingredients and 30 minutes to transform into a hearty meal with lots of flavor. It’s the perfect chili recipe for those busy weeknights when you need a nutritious meal on the table FAST!

A hearty bowl of cowboy chili topped with sour cream, Frito corn chips, and green onions.
Table of Contents
  1. What is Cowboy Chili?
  2. Ingredients for Cowboy Chili
  3. How to Make 5-Ingredient Cowboy Chili
  4. What to Serve with Cowboy Chili
  5. Cowboy Chili Recipe Variations, Cooks Tips, and FAQs
  6. More Easy Chili Recipes to Try
  7. Aunt Bee’s 5-Ingredient Cowboy Chili Recipe

My great Aunt Bee’s recipes haven’t ever failed me before – and this simple 5-ingredient cowboy chili recipe is no exception! When I think of “cowboy food,” I think of simple, hearty, bold ingredients. This chili recipe is exactly that – healthy, filling comfort food that the entire family will love.

What is Cowboy Chili?

Cowboy chili is a little bit different than a traditional chili recipe. Think of what old-time cowboys would crave after a long day of cattle drives out in the mountains. They’re around a fire at dusk, with few ingredients and even less patience for a long-cooking meal. They want a hearty, satisfying dinner, and they want it now. Cowboy chili is packed with chili flavor – hearty meat and chili sauce, protein from beans, and delicious spices. There’s no prep required, just toss everything into a large pot and let the flavors mellow together over the open flame. That is what cowboy chili is all about!

Now, Aunt Bee’s recipe was more about a quick, budget-friendly meal that fed a lot of people in a little time. Her original recipe is probably one that traditional chili lovers would scoff at, but in my house, it’s a staple because of how quick, easy, and delicious it is.

Ingredients for Cowboy Chili

Aunt Bee’s chili recipe is perfect for those last-minute rushed evenings because it uses just a few very basic kitchen staples, and it comes together in about 30 minutes. As always, you can find the complete ingredient measurements and directions in the printable recipe card at the end of the post. Here’s everything you need to make 5-ingredient chili:

  • Ground Beef: I find that lean ground beef is best here, so there’s minimal fat to drain.
  • Lipton Onion Soup Mix: a simple all-in-one seasoning mix that adds a ton of flavor to the chili.
  • Chili Powder: for spice and a little bit of heat.
  • Pinto Beans: to bulk up the chili.
  • Chili Sauce: for that hearty chili flavor.

Cowboy Chili Toppings and Serving Suggestions

Like most chili recipes, how you dress up your chili depends on your tastes – and the sky’s the limit! My kids love this hearty beef chili served over elbow macaroni, but I also think it’s great on its own, topped with some Fritos corn chips or served alongside a skillet cornbread.

Here are some extra topping ideas you and your family might also like:

  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese (any blend of cheddar cheese or pepper jack for some spice)
  • Chives, scallions, or green onions
  • Cooked bacon
  • Diced onion (red for sweetness, white for a bite)
  • Crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips
A closeup image of a while bowl filled with beef and bean chili, topped with Fritos, sour cream, and green onions. Two small ramekins filled with Fritos and shredded cheese sit in the background.

How to Make 5-Ingredient Cowboy Chili

This hearty recipe is a perfect stove top chili recipe if you’re craving that classic chili flavor, but you’re short on time. It’s minimal prep, minimal ingredients, but no shortage of flavor!

  • Brown the ground beef in a skillet until cooked through. Drain the fat.
  • Stir in soup mix, beans, and chili sauce. Add water to thin the chili.
  • Simmer the chili over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  • Serve in a small bowl and garnish with your favorite toppings.

What to Serve with Cowboy Chili

The great thing about this chili recipe is that it’s so easy, you can quickly prepare some delicious side dishes to pair with it in no time. Here are some classic options:

Cowboy Chili Recipe Variations, Cooks Tips, and FAQs

  • If you like a soupier chili, you can add a can of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, or a small can of tomato paste mixed with beef or chicken broth to add more liquid to the recipe.
  • You can swap out pinto beans for chili beans, kidney beans, or black beans.
  • If you prefer a no-bean chili, try Texas Chili or Beef and Beer Chili – these chili recipes have heartier ingredients, so the beans will not be missed.
  • If you want more substance to your cowboy chili, dice up some green bell peppers, hatch chiles, or fire-roasted green chiles.
  • Add some cayenne pepper for an extra kick of heat.

Can I make cowboy chili in the slow cooker? 

While most of the time I agree there are few things better than a slow cooker chili simmering all day long, let’s be real… there are plenty of days where I’m not organized enough to get it going! Because cowboy chili has minimal ingredients, it’s the perfect last-minute, figure out how to feed my family meal. I don’t recommend making cowboy chili in the slow cooker because there’s just not enough liquid for slow cooking. Stick to the stove top for this 5-ingredient chili!

Can I make cowboy chili with another kind of meat? 

Cowboy chili is all about using what you’ve got. If you don’t have ground beef on hand, use ground turkey, ground chicken, ground sausage, or even chorizo.

How do you store leftover chili?

Chili freezes extremely well, so if you make a larger batch and have leftover chili, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. It will also store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Reheat leftover chili on the stovetop over medium low heat until warmed through. You can add additional chili sauce, water, or even beef or chicken broth to thin the chili if it’s too thick.

A small white ceramic bowl of cowboy chili garnished with Frito corn chips, sour cream, and green onions. Text in the top corner of the image reads "5-ingredient cowboy chili"

More Easy Chili Recipes to Try

If you’ve tried my Aunt Bee’s Cowboy Chili or any other recipe on The Seasoned Mom then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to see what I’m getting up to.

Aunt Bee’s 5-Ingredient Cowboy Chili

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 171 kcal
This easy 5-ingredient cowboy chili recipe is perfect for a camping trip, busy weeknight dinner, and everything in between! You only need a handful of pantry staples and 30 minutes for this tasty, hearty chili recipe.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lb. ground beef
  • 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cans pinto beans rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup chili sauce
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • For serving: Fritos or other corn chips or tortilla chips; cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions

Instructions

  • Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain and return to skillet.
    1 ½ lb. ground beef
  • Stir in soup mix, chili powder, beans, chili sauce, and 1 ½ cups water. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
    1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 cans pinto beans, ¼ cup chili sauce

Notes

  • If you like a soupier chili, you can add a can of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, or a small can of tomato paste mixed with beef or chicken broth to add more liquid to the recipe.
  • You can swap out pinto beans for chili beans, kidney beans, or black beans.
  • If you prefer a no-bean chili, try Texas Chili or Beef and Beer Chili – these chili recipes have heartier ingredients, so the beans will not be missed.
  • If you want more substance to your cowboy chili, dice up some green bell peppers, hatch chiles, or fire-roasted green chiles.
  • Add some cayenne pepper for an extra kick of heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 24gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 262mgPotassium: 460mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 475IUVitamin C: 1.8mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 3mg
Keyword: 5-ingredient chili, chili recipe, cowboy chili
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: The Seasoned Mom

 

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says:

    Oh this five ingredient chili sounds amazing, Blair! What a perfect bowl of comfort food! I’ve never made a chili with so few ingredients before, so I’m loving this. Just perfect!

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you so much, Gayle!! You can’t believe how good this tastes with so little effort. 🙂

  2. Anna @ Sunny Side Ups says:

    Yup, down here in Arizona, a lot of “cowboy food” is served, and it’s always about the beef and the beans! 🙂 More and more lately, I’m scrambling to get dinner made and served last-minute, and this chili is such a perfect meal for that! Pinning to make soon!

    1. Blair says:

      Oh, good! I’m so glad to know that my take on “cowboy” food is relatively accurate. 🙂 Enjoy this one!

  3. Sherry says:

    Am going to make aunt bee’s chili tomorrow. .sounds awesome!…will let you know how it turns out..will make the dump and bake in a day..all sounds wonderful

  4. Emily Kemp says:

    5 stars
    Wow this looks so comforting and delicious, I absolutely love chili!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Emily! We love chili too, and this is definitely an easy one!

  5. Jessi says:

    What chili sauce do you recommend?? 🙂

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Jessi! I usually use the Heinz chili sauce. 🙂

      1. Jessi says:

        Ok great! Thank you!

  6. thomas cook says:

    I am curious to try recipes on your site. I like to cook but i have tried others recipe and alot seem to not taste as good as they say or maybe they leave out ingredients………i am trying aunt bees swedish meatballs and tuna casserole………..i will let you know,thx tom cook

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Tom! I hope that you enjoy the recipes! Aunt Bee’s meatballs are a family favorite!