Spicy Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili Recipe (2024)

  • Chili
  • Mexican
  • Stovetop
  • Pinto Beans
  • Sausages

A quick, easy, and flavor-packed dinner that tastes like it's been simmering all day.


J. Kenji López-Alt

Spicy Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili Recipe (1)

J. Kenji López-Alt

Culinary Consultant

Kenji is the former culinary director for Serious Eats and a current culinary consultant for the site. He is also a New York Times food columnist and the author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.

Learn about Serious Eats'Editorial Process

Updated July 25, 2023

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Spicy Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili Recipe (2)

Why It Works

  • Fresh Mexican chorizo is already packed with flavor, so you only have a bit of doctoring-up to do to make this into a chili that tastes like it is cooked all day.
  • A dash of fish sauce may seem out of place in chili, but it's the ideal seasoning for adding meaty depth to your stew (and no, the chili won't taste like fish!).

This is the last in a series of three simple recipes I worked on featuring fresh Mexican chorizo. The first wassimple Mexican chorizo tacos.The second waschorizo sloppy joes. The last is a simple chili made with chorizo, pinto beans, and a whole slew of fresh toppings.

This is the kind of thing that happens when I move out of my old apartment and discover several pounds of thefresh Mexican chorizoI was working on a few months before in cryovac bags inside my freezer. Necessity might be the mother of invention, but excess and the need-to-get-rid-of-excess-crap is its first cousin.

Spicy Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili Recipe (3)

When you're starting with something as flavorful and juicy as chorizo, there's really not all that much that needs to be done to turn it into a delicious stew. In myultimate chilirecipe, I use a puréed mixture of whole dried chiles cooked in chicken stock as the flavor base, but with this recipe, expedience is higher on my list of priorities, so I stick with regular old chili powder, doctored up with onion, garlic, a bit of extra cumin, Mexican oregano, and—the secret ingredient—a dash of fish sauce.

Fish sauce is a concentrated source of glutamic and inosinic acid, two of the ingredients responsible for triggering our sense ofumami, or savoriness. A small dash of it added to a meat-based stew will up its meaty factor to Godzilla-sized proportions without actually imparting any sort of excessively fishy overtones.

Spicy Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili Recipe (4)

A couple of cans of drained pinto beans and a can of tomatoes go in to bulk it up. (I know, I know.Tomatoes and beans in chili???Don't even start with me.) The whole thing simmers for about half an hour on the stovetop, just enough time to grab your garnishes—and in the summertime, chili is just as much about the fresh garnishes as it is the meaty stew.

I like to go all out, with a mix of diced avocados, diced tomatoes (I use sweet little cherry tomatoes), sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, and a drizzle of Mexican crema.

Of course, now that I've managed to get rid of all that excess chorizo, I'm stuck wondering what to do with the extra avocado, tomato, scallions, cilantro, cheese, and crema I have sitting in my fridge. And thus the cycle continues. I smell somenachosin my future.

May 2014

Recipe Details

Spicy Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili

Active30 mins

Total60 mins

Serves4to 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 1/2 poundsstore-bought orhomemade fresh raw Mexican chorizo, casings removed if necessary

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes packed in juice, roughly squeezed through fingers to crush

  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 (15-ounce) canspinto beans drained and rinsed

  • 1 cuphomemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • Kosher saltand freshly ground black pepper

  • Diced avocado, diced tomatoes, cilantro, sliced scallions, Mexican crema, lime wedges, and crumbled cotija cheese for serving (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or a potato masher, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. There should be about 3 tablespoons oil pooled in the edge of the pan when you tilt it; drain any excess oil if necessary.

  2. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add oregano, chili powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, fish sauce, bay leaf, beans, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened to a rich stew-like consistency, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper (you may not need any salt, depending on how salty your chorizo and chicken stock were). Discard the bay leaf.

  3. Serve immediately with diced avocado, diced tomatoes, cilantro, sliced scallions, Mexican crema, lime wedges, and crumbled cotija cheese on the side.

Special Equipment

Dutch oven or large skillet

Read More

  • Easy Fresh Mexican Chorizo Recipe
  • Easy Pork and 3-Bean Chili Recipe
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
39g Fat
29g Carbs
29g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4to 6
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 39g50%
Saturated Fat 13g64%
Cholesterol 75mg25%
Sodium 1728mg75%
Total Carbohydrate 29g11%
Dietary Fiber 3g11%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 40mg199%
Calcium 108mg8%
Iron 4mg23%
Potassium 968mg21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Spicy Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili Recipe (2024)
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