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Meatball Chili

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2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16-ounce) box or bag frozen precooked meatballs
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (16-ounce) box beef stock
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water

Meatball Chili

Meatball Chili is a delicious, warming recipe perfect for cold winter nights.

  • Serves 6
  • Easy

About This Recipe

Meatball chili is the perfect recipe to make when it’s cold outside. The combination of rich tomatoes, beans, chili powder, and tender meatballs is delicious and warming. And this is the best meatball chili on the planet.

One of the nice things about making chili yourself, rather than just pouring it out of a can, is that you can control the ingredients you use, and, more importantly, control the spiciness of the recipe. I myself do not like spicy food; it may be my Norwegian heritage, but chili peppers do not agree with me. If you feel differently, feel free to add as many spicy peppers to this recipe as you want. Just be careful at first – you can add more, but it’s difficult to reduce the spiciness of a recipe.

The recipe uses canned beans and frozen meatballs, which I think makes it doable even on nights when you’re tired and just don’t want to cook. When everything is in the pot, you can relax while your home fills with wonderful spicy aromas.

Serve with some cheese crackers or cornbread for the ultimate comfort.

How to Make the Best Meatball Chili

  • You really do need to cook the onions and garlic for awhile until the onions are nice and soft and starting to turn golden around the edges. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.
  • Chiles you can use include jalapeños, poblanos, smoked chilis, different varieties of chili powder, cayenne pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Just don’t invite me over for dinner.
  • Let the chili simmer until it is slightly thickened and combined – and looks like chili!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Meatballs add a smoky richness and depth of flavor to this recipe you just don’t get with ground beef or pork. Use your favorite brand.
  • Make sure you add tomato paste, which adds a smoky flavor and richness that diced tomatoes can’t provide.

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In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion softens and starts to color around the edges, about 4 to 8 minutes.


Add the meatballs to the onion mixture and stir. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, beans, 2 cups water, chili powder, and cumin and stir gently. Bring to a simmer.


Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 to 2 hours or until the meatballs are heated to 160°F and the mixture is blended.


In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water and mix well. Stir into the chili and stir well to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes longer or until thickened, and serve with sour cream and grated cheese.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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