The Pioneer Woman’s Simple, Perfect Chili


We have the pleasure of sharing this perfect Pioneer Woman chili recipe with you, courtesy of Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.

From The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

This is my go-to chili recipe for everything from Frito pies to chili fries.  It can be left very basic or made more interesting with additions like chopped onions, kidney and pinto beans, and cans of diced tomatoes and chilies.  But whatever the eventual use, I never make chili without adding a mixture of masa (used in Mexican cooking) and water.  While acting as a thickener for the chili, masa also lends a distinctive corn flavor, which gives the chili a wonderful dimension.  Make this in huge quantities and freeze smaller portions – I love having chili in the freezer.


(385 votes, average: 3.46 out of 5)
The Pioneer Woman’s Simple, Perfect Chili


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup masa (corn flour, found in Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
  • Optional Ingredients:
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes and chilies (I use the Rotel brand)
  • For Serving:
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped onion
  • Fritos


  1. Begin by measuring the spices: chopped garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, and chili powder.
  2. Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic. Cook the beef until brown
  3. And unless you want to tick off your cardiologist, drain off the excess fat.
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce. Followed by the spices and the salt
  5. Stir together well, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add in ½ cup water at a time as needed.
  6. After an hour, place the masa in a small bowl. Add ½ cup water and stir together with a fork.
  7. Dump the masa mixture into the chili.
  8. Stir together well. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and add more masa paste and/or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor. Add the beans, jalapeño, and tomatoes if desired. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Serve with shredded cheddar, chopped onion, and Fritos.

Yield: 6


Helpful Hint: To freeze the Pioneer Woman chili, allow it to cool completely, then place it in 1-cup portions in freezer bags. Flatten the bags for easy storage in the freezer.

Reprinted with permission from Harper Collins.

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Carolyn wells
Carolyn wells

I have hunted the masa Harina at every store in Chattanooga and no one has it. I bought something called Maseca! Is that the same and does anyone know where I can find the Masa Harina or something I could substitute???? Thanks a bunch!!


I used corn starch and felt it was a suitable sub


Powdered corn tortillas work.
They are made out of masa harina, after all.

Ivette Rivera
Ivette Rivera

MASECA is the item you’re looking for.


What can I use in place of the masa ? Or can I omit it?

Jeannine Malon
Jeannine Malon

I think it came out great!
I did “tweak” a few ingredients-
Added sautéed garlic, a pinch of Paprika and a few squirts of Frank’s Red Hot.
I omitted the green chilies from the tomatoes, the jalapeño and chopped onions ( on top).
Very easy to make & everyone loved it


I make this without adding the beans. Grandkids love it for Frito Pie. A little fritos with a cup of chili…topped with grated cheese.


This is the 2nd time to make this. I added a bit of water and a bell pepper and a great big jalapeño. It was so good I won our school Chili cook off against 7 other entries!


I have been making chili for many years, and I just love the simplicity of this recipe, plus I like the idea of using Masa corn flour to not only thicken the chili but sweeten it with corn as well. Also, this recipe could easily be doctored up by adding some extra things such as some puréed chipotle peppers; beer maybe; chicken or beef broth; or even chocolate. I sometimes like to make my own chili powders too by using a high speed, coffee grinder to pulverize dry chili peppers purchased in bulk from the grocery store.


I thought there was a typo in the amount of tomato sauce to use. Only 8oz?? I used 2 15oz cans of tomato sauce and 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes. Turned out great. Never used masa before, the chili was very good. What a great tip! Really, only 8oz of tomatoes??


I tried this recipe exactly as written and it’s awesome. I used to always make chili with diced tomatoes and using the sauce alone is significantly better (IMO). I also never used masa and find it to be a game changer. “2 15oz cans of tomato sauce and 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes” sounds more like you’re making a tomato sauce versus a chili. I’m sure it tasted great though. I’ve played with chili recipes over the past 30 years and decided to take a big step back and keep it simple. Ree’s recipe was a great find for… Read more »


I agree with Dawn. The recipe was dry with only 8 oz—We used 2 15oz. cans of tomato sauce and 2 15oz. cans of diced tomatoes as well. It was delicious and our family’s favorite chili recipe!


I make a vegetarian version of this based on this recipe. Mainly due to being on a diet and having two daughters who are vegetarians. I use four 15 oz cans of beans, one 10 oz can of a Ro-Tel type product and one 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes. Peppers, onions, grated carrots and the spices mentioned. Family loves it. Oh- I also add some dried epazote to keep the gas down.


Um…. carb count? 

Lorena Marquez
Lorena Marquez


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