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 must-haves. 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, a Food Network recipe including beer and cocoa powder, or this ground beef chili con carne with a four-star rating on All Recipes, featuring cumin, cinnamon sticks and clove.
Popular in southwestern states like Colorado and New Mexico, chili verde is “green chili” made with ingredients like jalapenos, tomatillos and oregano – which all help give this chili its iconic 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/or peppers adds a smoky flavor and seasonings like cilantro, cumin and oregano give a nice depth.
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.
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, staring 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 it’s 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.
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.
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.
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 have all the right tools and ingredients for making chili from scratch.
Discover a wide array of chili recipes with “The Chili Cookbook: A History of the One-Pot Classic, with Cook-Off Worthy Recipes from Three-Bean to Four-Alarm and Con Carne to Vegetarian” by Robb Walsh.
Be sure to stock your pantry with all the essential spices you’ll need with a spice set, and consider using equipment like an Instant Pot or slow cooker. Making chili in an Instant Pot makes a world of difference.
When the meal is ready, make it feel like a special occasion with this set of four Sweese porcelain bowls with handles. And of course, you need a way to serve up your delicious chili. Try Amazon’s Choice OXO Good Grips nylon ladle or the best-selling stainless steel newness soup ladle.
Shop our Amazon storefront for all your chili-making essentials.
Are you a pro at making homemade chili? Share your tips in the comments.
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