Suzanne’s Superb 3 Bean Chili Recipe

Want a simple and easy way to feed a crowd this fall? Try my 3 Bean Chili recipe! Guests rave over the nice balance of heat and sweet, thanks to the addition of some perfectly sautéed corn.

Now, there are parts of the country like Texas where beans *never* find their way into chili. Guess what? We don’t live in Texas! So, this recipe features a whopping three kinds of beans that each add amazing flavor and a nice crunch.

The best part? It’s a great make-ahead meal, so if you’ve got guests coming over, you can spend time with them rather than standing over your stove. Just like my pot roast recipe, the flavor gets even better a day or so after you make it!


1 cup of sweet or vidalia onion, diced

2 lbs ground beef (90% sirloin for best flavor while still lean)

3 cloves garlic, minced or put through garlic press

2 tablespoons chili powder (or more for an extra kick)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1 28 oz can of tomato sauce

3-4 dashes of Holtkamp Heat Wave hot sauce (or your favorite hot sauce, to taste)

1 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained

1 15 oz can black beans, drained,

1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained

1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes with juice

2 ears fresh corn kernels, cut off the cob

1 tablespoon unsalted butter


In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, add a tablespoon of oil and onion over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt to help the onion sweat, 5-7 minutes until translucent.

Add ground beef, turn heat to medium high, season with a hefty pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and break up with wooden spoon. Once all meat is browned, add spices and garlic, mixing carefully for 30-45 seconds.

Pour in tomato sauce and all beans, mixing the chili after each can. Add the diced tomatoes with as much of the juice to make the chili the consistency you prefer. Cover with tight fitting lid and reduce heat to low.

While the chili simmers, cut the kernels off two cobs of fresh corn. Either place the cob into a bowl to catch the kernels, or line your cutting board with a clean rolled dish towel to keep the kernels from escaping!

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium high heat and add corn kernels with some salt and pepper. Sautée the corn for 6-8 minutes until nicely browned and sweetened. Add to the chili as soon as corn is ready.

Stir occasionally for 30 minutes, tasting each time for seasoning. (careful, it’s hot!) You will likely need to add some salt until it’s “just right.” Add chili powder or hot sauce if you want more “kick.”

Consider serving over saffron rice and with tortilla chips, sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, fresh diced tomatoes, minced red onion, lime wedges or your favorite toppings. Plus, you can always pair it with an amazing cast-iron skillet buttermilk cornbread, but that’s a recipe for another day.

If you want to warm up your next party or tailgate with a real crowd pleaser, be sure to try my superb 3 Bean Chili Recipe!


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