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It’s officially chili season!

Staff, America's Test Kitchen on

Ground beef is an easy base for chili, as it doesn’t require any preparation such as chopping or slicing beforehand — just put it in the pot and go! This convenience comes at a price, however, as ground meat can give up a lot of moisture as it cooks and becomes dry and pebbly. But don’t worry: This chili recipe uses a secret ingredient to keep the beef tender and juicy.

To keep the beef tender and moist, treat it with baking soda. Yes, baking soda! The baking soda raises the meat’s pH, helping its proteins attract more water and lock it in during cooking. This keeps the meat juicy and also helps it brown more quickly.

Beef and Bean Chili

Serves 6

1 pound 85% lean ground beef

2 tablespoons water


1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 (15-­ounce) can pinto beans

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion, peeled and chopped


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