How Long You Should Be Cooking Chili

Who doesn't love a steaming bowl of chili? A seemingly timeless dish that's a favorite at family dinners, potlucks, tailgates, and, of course, cookoffs, chili most likely originated — or was at least popularized — in 19th-century Texas, according to What's Cooking America.

The earliest versions of chili, notes What's Cooking America, were probably the chili con carne type: Not the beans-loaded chilis we're familiar with today, but a simple stew of beef in a glossy sauce made from dried chilis. Over the decades, the conception of "chili" has expanded enormously, with preparations ranging from vegan three-bean chili to white chicken chili with cannellini beans to a woodsy venison chili with pinto and black beans. But whichever chili version is your favorite, you might be wondering: Is this a dish you can whip up quickly when the mood strikes, or does it benefit from an hours-long, slow simmer?

Cooking chili low and slow is the way to go

Although the internet abounds with recipes for quick-cooking chilis that take as little as 20 minutes (via MyRecipes), this stewed dish truly benefits from a longer cook time that will gently coax all the flavors out of the meat, legumes, vegetables, and spices in the recipe. According to Southern Living, you'll want to let any chili recipe cook for at least an hour to fully enjoy its spectrum of tastes.

Of course, in this day and age, many of us are so busy that we sometimes don't have an hour to spare — even in the name of delicious chili. For those occasions, the outlet counsels, slow cooker chili is a wonderful option: Though there can be a few minutes' worth of prep time involved, the appliance does the rest of the work unattended, turning out a deeply flavored chili in a few hours' time. Otherwise, Southern Living recommends using a pressure cooker (or the pressure cooker function on your Instant Pot): Our creamy white chicken chili loaded with beans, peppers, tomatoes, and a plethora of fragrant dried spices hits the table after just 15 minutes of prep times and a flat half hour's cook time in the handy appliance.