How to Make Chili

Chili is easy to make in large batches, making it perfect for game day. The classic recipe calls for sauteing onion and garlic with lean ground beef or another protein of your choice (including vegan or vegetarian options), then simmering with tomatoes and beans. And of course, chili wouldn’t be chili without its flavorful and robust seasonings, most importantly its namesake chili powder.

Chili was traditionally made on the stovetop, but there are now many recipe variations for the slow cooker or instant pot. Keep on reading for some recipe inspiration!

What’s in Chili?

While Texas chili is bean-free and beloved, most other chili recipes call for beans of any variety — kidney, white, pinto or black beans are all great additions, and can be substituted in any recipe. Lean ground beef is commonly used in chili, but there are many recipes for white chicken chili and other chilis that call for turkey, bison or vegan-friendly meat alternatives. We’re partial to our recipe for Vegan Quinoa Slow Cooker Chili, below.

Nutritionally, the beans and meat (or meat alternative) provide protein and fiber, while tomatoes (which make up the base of the soup and are typically canned, crushed, diced or stewed) are high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and aids the immune system, and the capsaicin found in chili peppers can increase your metabolism.

How to Make Chili from Scratch

Some may say that making chili from scratch means you have to dice fresh tomatoes by hand and soak and cook dried beans, but in reality it’s perfectly acceptable to use canned tomatoes and beans! If you do use fresh tomatoes, be sure to taste frequently and adjust seasonings as necessary. Most canned tomatoes are pre-seasoned, and chili recipes take this into account. If you use fresh tomatoes, adjust the seasoning as needed to avoid a watery chili.

What Makes a Good Chili

For chili to be truly great, it must have excellent seasoning. Be sure to work the chili powder and other seasonings into your meat before sauteing it, and continue to season the chili throughout the cooking process. You can heighten your chili’s flavor by allowing it to simmer longer on a lower temperature, which also thickens the chili as it cooks.

Some people love chili served over white rice (which is also a great way to stretch the meal if you have more hungry mouths than anticipated).

Garnishes are critical when serving chili. Set out a colorful toppings bar so everyone can customize their own bowl. Pick and choose toppings to your liking or based on what you have available. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sliced avocado or guacamole
  • Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce and/or salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Jalapenos
  • Red or green onion
  • Tortilla chips, cornbread, saltines or oyster crackers

Chili Recipes

With so many ways to customize your chili, it can be hard to choose a direction. But once you’ve decided on a recipe, chili is so easy to make! Check out some of our favorite recipes below, each with an easy way to add the ingredients you’ll need to your shopping cart.

How to Make Chili

Chili is easy to make in large batches, making it perfect for game day. The classic recipe calls for sauteing onion and garlic with lean ground beef or another protein of your choice (including vegan or vegetarian options), then simmering with tomatoes and beans. And of course, chili wouldn’t be chili without its flavorful and robust seasonings, most importantly its namesake chili powder.

Chili was traditionally made on the stovetop, but there are now many recipe variations for the slow cooker or instant pot. Keep on reading for some recipe inspiration!

What’s in Chili?

While Texas chili is bean-free and beloved, most other chili recipes call for beans of any variety — kidney, white, pinto or black beans are all great additions, and can be substituted in any recipe. Lean ground beef is commonly used in chili, but there are many recipes for white chicken chili and other chilis that call for turkey, bison or vegan-friendly meat alternatives. We’re partial to our recipe for Vegan Quinoa Slow Cooker Chili, below.

Nutritionally, the beans and meat (or meat alternative) provide protein and fiber, while tomatoes (which make up the base of the soup and are typically canned, crushed, diced or stewed) are high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and aids the immune system, and the capsaicin found in chili peppers can increase your metabolism.

How to Make Chili from Scratch

Some may say that making chili from scratch means you have to dice fresh tomatoes by hand and soak and cook dried beans, but in reality it’s perfectly acceptable to use canned tomatoes and beans! If you do use fresh tomatoes, be sure to taste frequently and adjust seasonings as necessary. Most canned tomatoes are pre-seasoned, and chili recipes take this into account. If you use fresh tomatoes, adjust the seasoning as needed to avoid a watery chili.

What Makes a Good Chili

For chili to be truly great, it must have excellent seasoning. Be sure to work the chili powder and other seasonings into your meat before sauteing it, and continue to season the chili throughout the cooking process. You can heighten your chili’s flavor by allowing it to simmer longer on a lower temperature, which also thickens the chili as it cooks.

Some people love chili served over white rice (which is also a great way to stretch the meal if you have more hungry mouths than anticipated).

Garnishes are critical when serving chili. Set out a colorful toppings bar so everyone can customize their own bowl. Pick and choose toppings to your liking or based on what you have available. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sliced avocado or guacamole
  • Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce and/or salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Jalapenos
  • Red or green onion
  • Tortilla chips, cornbread, saltines or oyster crackers

Chili Recipes

With so many ways to customize your chili, it can be hard to choose a direction. But once you’ve decided on a recipe, chili is so easy to make! Check out some of our favorite recipes below, each with an easy way to add the ingredients you’ll need to your shopping cart.

Chili Recipes