Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

Cover recipe- Cooking Light,  Beef and Pinto Bean Chili: Jan/Feb 2010

I wasn’t really sure which cover I wanted to tackle until I saw the January/February issue of Cooking Lighton the newsstands boasting their “best chili.”  A lot of people claim to have the best chili recipe (after all, there are entire cookbooks and cook-off events dedicated to chili…), so I decided it was a claim worth evaluating.  Plus, what could be better than chili simmering on the stove on a cold winter day?

The issue features three separate chili recipes – an all-veggie chili, a beef and bean chili, and a Texas-style chili.  In addition to the three recipes, the issue also includes a section on chili basics, allowing the reader to follow a few simple steps to create an unlimited number of original chili recipes.  While creating my own chili recipe sounded like a lot of fun to me, the cover shows a picture of the Beef and Pinto Bean Chili, so that’s the one I tackled.

Read my notes below to see what I thought of the recipe.

Print Print Recipe

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 2 hour


Cooking spray
1  pound  boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
2  tablespoons  canola oil
4  cups  chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1/4  cup  minced jalapeño peppers (about 2 large)
10  garlic cloves, minced
1  (12-ounce) bottle beer
1  tablespoon  paprika
1  tablespoon  ground cumin
2  tablespoons  tomato paste
3  cups  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1  (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1  (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2  cup  thinly sliced radish
1  avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped
6  tablespoons  small cilantro leaves
6  tablespoons  sour cream
6  lime wedges


1. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeño; sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broth, tomatoes, beans and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
2. Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls. Divide radish and avocado evenly among bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro and 1 tablespoon sour cream. Serve with lime wedges.


*My hubby and I don’t drink much beer, so I didn’t have any on hand when I was making this recipe. Instead, I substituted some additional beef stock. The substitution worked well, but I do think that the beer would have added some additional depth to the flavor of the dish.
*I followed the instructions and I coated my pan with cooking spray prior to cooking the beef.  However, it seems strange to me to cook the beef with the cooking spray and then add oil to cook the veggies. Next time, I will add the oil at the beginning to help to sear off the beef.  The veggies can then be cooked in the remaining oil and rendered drippings from the beef.
*It was really messy to drain and chop the canned whole tomatoes. Consider crushing the tomatoes in a bowl with a spoon or using canned diced tomatoes to avoid a lot of tomato carnage all over your cutting board (and countertops, if you’re messy like me).
*I generally prefer extra virgin olive oil to canola oil (except in baking and other situations where a lighter flavored oil is necessary), so I would probably substitute olive oil next time.
*I would also use smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika in this dish, because I like my chili to be really smokey.  Either way, be sure to use a good quality paprika!

Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1/6th of the recipe
Calories per serving: 421
Fat per serving: 23g
Saturated Fat per serving: 6.8g
Fiber per serving: 8.5g
Protein per serving: 21.6g
Carbohydrates per serving: 30.4g

Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2010

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

No. While I thought this was a decent chili recipe, I don’t think it lived up to the claim of being the “best.” I also found it interesting that this recipe had the most calories and fat of the three chili recipes featured in the issue. I would have much rather seen the all-veggie chili on the cover because I think it better represents Cooking Light and sounds just as flavorful!

Lori is the founder of She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at

Warning: Use of undefined constant rand - assumed 'rand' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /var/www/clients/client0/web83/web/wp-content/themes/culinarycovers/single.php on line 72

Leave a Comment