Easy Two Bean Chili with Masa Harina

This is a “go-to” chili recipe. It’s simple, easy to make, and lends itself to other vegetable two-bean-chiliadditions (like zucchini), and to variations in the type of beans in it. Always use grass-fed ground beef – its flavor is so much…beefier, and it’s a lot leaner, too. I ripped off the idea of adding masa harina to the chili from a good friend whose chili happens to be super delicious. The masa thickens the chili and adds an extra bit of savory depth of flavor. You can easily omit if you don’t happen to have masa on hand. (Don’t be tempted to use cornmeal. It won’t work, trust me.)  The only chili-related bone of contention in our household is what the consistency of chili should be. My husband likes it soupy. I like it a little thicker. Sometimes I compromise and make it the way he likes it. Sometimes. You can vary the consistency to your taste by omitting the water or adding an extra bit of masa harina (to make it thicker). Add a little more water, or omit a tablespoon or two of masa if you like it a little soupier.The best thing about chili: it tastes so much better the next day, or even the day after that. It’s also really good with homemade tortillas. (Since you’re using masa harina anyway – why not?)


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (ribs and seeds removed, if you don’t like spicy)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 7 tablespoons good-quality chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed with your hands (I use fire-roasted canned tomatoes)
  • One 24-ounce bottle tomato sauce (I like Bionaturae brand)
  • 1/2 cup water (optional, see above)
  • 2 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons dried masa harina, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Garnish: sour cream or yogurt, shredded cheese, chopped onions, cilantro (optional)


  1. In a large, heavy pot, add the olive oil, onions, red bell pepper, and jalapeno over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until vegetables are soft, 6-7 minutes (do not brown).
  2. Add the garlic and stir one minute.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, and coriander, and stir one minute.
  4. Add the ground beef, a good pinch of salt, and couple of grinds of black pepper. Break up the beef with a fork and continue cooking until the beef has lost most of its raw, red color.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and optional water, and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
  6. Add the kidney and the pinto beans. Simmer the chili for another 20 minutes. Taste and correct for salt.
  7. Stir in the masa dissolved in water and bring back to a gentle boil. Turn down the heat and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  8. Serve with any or all garnishes listed above.