making homemade chili

Recipes and Tips for Making Homemade Chili

Whether you’re prepping food for game day or simply looking for a recipe to combat the cold, nothing satisfies quite like making homemade chili.

From meat-forward and bean-focused recipes to regionally inspired flavors, discover the different styles and check out our tips for making chili from scratch.

With special equipment like slow cookers and Instant Pots and tons of great recipes at your disposal, the world of chili is practically endless.

Chili con Carne

Chili con carne is Spanish for “chili with meat.” When making homemade chili, this is easily one of the most popular types, while still offering opportunities for customization.

Beef, pork and venison are all popular proteins for chili con carne. Ground options tend to be easier for most cooks – and cook faster – but cuts of chuck roast make for an especially hardy, stew-like dish.

Although this kind of chili demands meat, it also usually includes ingredients like garlic, onions and tomatoes. Beans are optional. When it comes to seasoning, chile peppers or chile powder are musts. Other spices like cumin, oregano and paprika are also common.

Check out this chili con carne recipe from Simply Recipes with coriander, oregano and thyme. For something a bit different, this Food Network recipe is made with beer and cocoa powder. Or try this ground beef chili con carne with a four-star rating on All Recipes, seasoned with cumin, cinnamon sticks and clove.

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Chili Verde

Popular in southwestern states like Colorado and New Mexico, chili verde or “green chili” is made with ingredients like jalapenos, tomatillos and oregano, all of which help to give it its signature color.

Green chili often has meat, although it can be made vegetarian. Pork is commonly used to make chile verde, with cubes of pork loin or shoulder (also referred to as pork butt) being the most popular.

Leave yourself plenty of time to make this type of chili, because the pork needs to simmer for a few hours to become tender. Roasting or charring your tomatillos and peppers adds a smoky flavor and seasonings like cilantro, cumin and oregano give nice depth.

This chili recipe from Simply Recipes features jalapenos and green chiles (Anaheim or poblano), while this slow cooker version from the food blog The Salty Marshmallow takes out some of the hassle.

Vegetarian Chili

A vegetarian chili calls for plenty of beans. Black, kidney and pinto beans are all great options that bring protein and fiber. “Meaty” vegetables like mushrooms or eggplant along with meat substitutes like tofu or tempeh can be used to give the chili more body. Lentils can also help make your veggie chili more filling, like with the Minimalist Baker’s one-pot red lentil chili.

Use classic chili ingredients like garlic, onions and tomatoes and consider additions like soy sauce or Worcestershire (go for a vegetarian version if you don’t eat anchovies) to provide depth and savory flavor to your vegetarian chili. Or, go the route of celebrating vegetables by adding a mix of bell peppers, sweet potatoes or carrots.

This homemade vegetarian chili recipe by Cookie and Kate uses a mix of classic spices and two types of beans, while this variation from Allrecipes uses a meat substitute for authentic flavors and textures.

Texas Chili

An offshoot of chili con carne, since it typically contains meat, Texas-style chili is known for its lack of beans and tomatoes – although the latter is sometimes debated.

Texas chili is all about the meat and heat, focusing on the chile peppers, protein and seasoning. When making a Texas chili, it’s common to create a homemade paste from a combination of dried peppers.

This true Texas chili recipe, starring beef chuck and 2 ounces of dried chiles, is approachable, while this (no beans) Texas-style Classic Chili Con Carne from New York Times Cooking combines ancho chiles and bacon with your choice of beef chuck, buffalo or venison.

Black Bean Chili

Opposite of the Texas interpretation of chili, this type makes beans the star. Black beans are packed with nutrients like folate (vitamin B9), iron, magnesium and thiamine (vitamin B1), with just half a cup of these beans boasting 8 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.

Black bean chili can include some meat, though usually ground as to not take away from the texture of the beans, but there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian versions, too.

Keep things simple with an Instant Pot recipe for beef and black bean chili or vegetarian chili. This chili recipe pairs black beans with ground turkey. For meatless options, there’s this simple vegetarian black bean chili and a vegan, slow cooker black bean chili from Jessica in the Kitchen, which incorporates quinoa for even more protein.

White Chili

This pale chili features white cannellini or Great Northern beans. The addition of ground or shredded turkey or chicken is common, but white chili can also be vegetarian or vegan.

Though incorporating sour cream into the stew itself isn’t unheard of among other kinds of chili, some white chili recipes call for a splash of heavy (or whipping) cream as well. This addition gives white chili a nice, creamy flavor and texture and helps to keep the dish’s pale color.

Taste of Home’s creamy white chili recipe uses sour and heavy cream, while this easy white chili recipe’s only source of dairy is a cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. This white chicken chili from the Chunky Chef has little pops of color thanks to the addition of corn kernels and fresh cilantro.

Lean Chili

Both chicken and turkey are great protein options if you’re looking for a healthier meat-based chili. Cubed, ground or shredded, lean proteins like these take well to seasoning.

Give your lean chili a Texas-inspired spin by cutting out the beans, or make it your own with your pick of peppers and chilies: ancho, bell, jalapeno, habanero, poblano, serrano, etc.

Keep things healthy by incorporating a few extra vegetables, like diced carrots and celery, and use low sodium broth and no-salt-added diced or crushed tomatoes so you can control the salt levels.

You can make a lean version of virtually any type of chili. Try the green paleo chicken Chili verde recipe by a Spicy Perspective, or go for a more traditional tasting healthy turkey chili from Ambitous Kitchen.

making homemade chili

Garnishes and Sides

After making homemade chili, garnishing it with the perfect toppings can elevate the entire dish. Top your chili with shredded cheese, fresh avocado and/or a dollop of sour cream to help cool some of the spice. Fresh herbs, jalapeno slices and diced red onion are also tasty toppings.

Serve your chili along with a fresh side salad for extra veggies to round out the meal or opt for tortilla chips to add texture. Sliced cornbread is another great side, offering a nice balance of sweetness to the chili’s spice and heat.

You’ll want to have all the right tools and ingredients for making chili from scratch. Shop for everything you’ll need below.

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Looking for more ways to stay cozy this winter? Check out these Instant Pot soup recipes, slow-cooker creations or balanced winter dishes.

Are you a pro at making homemade chili? Share your tips in the comments. 

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2 Thoughts on “Recipes and Tips for Making Homemade Chili

  1. A jewel of a book I picked up years ago is ‘Manhattan Chili Co Southwest-American Cookbook’. Its Numero Uno recipe is the blueprint for every authentic pot of chili.

  2. Excellent web site is the International Chili Society (ICS):

    Excellent old cookbook readily available online is the ICS cookbook: Neely, Martina and William. The International Chili Society Official Chili Cookbook. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981.

    My favorite is a variation I make of Perry Como’s Favorite Chili from the above ICS cookbook.

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