Ten-Minute Chili

Time: 10 to 15 minutes

When my daughter was 6 years old, she was not only a picky eater whose intake of food was limited to 10 items—chili among them—but also the kind of kid who might not feel hungry at 6:00 but two minutes later was ravenous. And so I came up with this incredibly easy recipe.

Serve with boiled white rice, couscous, or pasta.


  • 1 can (16 ounces) pink or small red kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • ½ pound ground lean beef round
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • ½ cup spaghetti sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnishes (optional): sliced scallions (green onions) and sour cream, plain nonfat yogurt, or shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Drain and rinse the beans. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble the meat into the skillet and sauté until the meat is somewhat brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute, then stir in the beans and spaghetti sauce. Cover and simmer until heated through, 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Ladle the chili into bowls and top with scallions and a dollop of sour cream.


All-Meat Chili: Increase the meat to 1 pound and omit the beans. You can successfully substitute ground veal or turkey for the beef. Or sauté 1 pound cubed, skinless, boneless chicken breasts instead of the ground meat.

Vegetarian Chili: Omit the meat and add another 16-ounce can of beans, drained and rinsed; increase the spaghetti sauce to 1 cup.

More Authentic Chili (if you’re not so pressed for time): Sauté 1 chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 chopped bell pepper until soft, 5 to 10 minutes, before adding the meat and spices. For an additional fiery touch, sauté 1 seeded and minced green or red chili with the other vegetables.