Chili is a classic American dish that packs a lot of flavors. Here are our five best chili recipes to try this winter!
Winter wouldn’t be winter without comfort food to cozy up to. A piping-hot bowl of chili is perfect for melting away the cold on a snowy day at home, cheering for your favorite team, or need easy to make for a weeknight meal.
Our best chili recipes are better than your average classic chili recipe. The recipes cover everything from hearty smoked beef to lighter recipes with chicken and pork. Whether the chili is slow-cooked in a crock-pot or cooked in a dutch oven on the stovetop, there is something here to please everyone.
Before we share our recipes, let’s talk about chili and what makes it delicious!
What is Chili? (Chili Con Carne)
Chili is short for Chili con Carne, which means “chili with meat.” Chili is a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat, tomatoes, and, depending on who you ask, beans.
Is chili different from soup and stew?
Chili comes in many variations, but what sets it apart from other soups and stews is the use of fresh chilis. It is considered a stew because of its low liquid content.
Where Did Chili Originate?
Surprisingly chili did not originate in Mexico. Chili is an American dish in which historians will often cite Texas as the birthplace of chili con carne. However, chili has a rich history with many legends that come along with it. You can read more about the origination of chili here.
Is Chili Healthy?
Yes, it can be if you use lean ground beef. For the most part, chili is usually full of vegetables and beans, with lots of fiber, protein, and flavor.
Consider the following to make chili healthy:
- When using beef, make sure you drain out the fat from the ground beef or use ground chicken or ground turkey if you prefer.
- Select low sodium or low sugar products to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.
- Drain and rinse canned beans, which can reduce sodium by 40%. Read more HERE.
What’s the Secret Ingredient of Chili?
The secret ingredient for chili depends on who you ask. There are a variety of secret ingredients used to make chili taste unforgettable, and none of them are wrong.
I’d have to say my secret ingredient is coffee. It’s similar to chocolate with a rich earthy sweetness to the chili. Besides coffee, other secret ingredients to boost the flavor of chili are:
- Smoked Meat
- Booze (Beer, Wine, or Liquor)
- Fish Sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Brine from pickled jalapenos
- Liquid Smoke
- Smoked Paprika
What meat is best for chili?
Beef is best for making chili. When making chili consider ground beef, beef chuck, and brisket.
Are there supposed to be beans in Chili?
This is a very controversial subject, but does it really matter at the end of the day? We love beans in our chili but leave them out if you don’t think beans belong.
What kind of beans are best in Chili?
Kidney beans, white beans, black beans, and pinto beans are delicious options.
Always use chili recipes as a guideline for how much spice to add. You know your taste and can increase or decrease the seasoning to your liking. For extra heat, leave in the seeds of jalapenos, add a few dashed of your favorite hot sauce, increase the number of chilis or sprinkle in some red crushed pepper cayenne pepper.
Do you put water in chili?
Beef or chicken broth, even beer, is better than plain water.
How To Thicken Chili?
- Stovetop: Simmer chili uncovered to allow the chili to thicken naturally.
- Crock-pot: Simmering for a long period of time without adding a lot of liquid.
- Make a Slurry: If you don’t have time add a slurry to the chili. (1:2 ratio of cornstarch or flour to water)
- Add a tablespoon of Masa Harina.
- Mashed Beans: Mash beans before adding them to the pot.
- Add cornmeal or polenta
What toppings are good on chili?
Toppings are not necessary as our chili recipes are amazingly delicious when eaten alone. However, we encourage you to garnish your chili. Whether you use just one or a combination of these toppings, it can enhance the chili.
- Shredded Extra-Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt
- Chopped Green Onions
- Chopped Cilantro
- Pico de Gallo
- Lime Wedges (juiced)
- Fresh or pickled jalapenos
- Diced fresh onions
- Black Olives
- Diced Bacon
What Goes With Chili?
- Tortilla Chips
- Baked Potato or Sweet Potato
- French Fries
- Grilled Cheese
- Beverages, such as Margaritas, sangria, and Mexican beers
What do you do with Leftover Chili?
- Refrigerate: Store cooled chili in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Reheat in a saucepan on the stove or microwave until warmed through.
- Freeze: Chili freezes well. When the chili is thawed and warmed, you cannot even tell it was ever frozen. Store in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
- Reheating Chili: If you have time, allow the chili to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, but if it’s a last-minute decision, run a little hot water over the bag or container to free it so you can remove it. Heat in a saucepan over low heat or microwave until warmed through.
And now to our list of recipes! Our 5 Best Chili recipes offer a variety of easy-to-make meals to help you stay full and satisfied.
#1 Slow Cooker Chili
This is my original chili recipe. It takes some time to get this chili ready to cook, but I promise you it will be worth it! Two different cuts of beef and four types of chiles combine with tomatoes to give this chili extraordinary flavor!
#2 Chicken Enchilada Chili
This is a chicken chili, so it’s on the lighter side. This recipe is stupid easy to make, and comes together in less than an hour. It’s amazing how this chili is ready in a short amount of time but tastes like it’s been simmering all day!
#3 Ground Pork Chili
This is another quick and easy chili that tastes as it has simmered all day long. I would refer to this pork chili recipe as a white chili recipe because it uses ground pork and chicken broth instead of ground beef with tomatoes and tomato sauce typically used when making chili. The rich pork and mild chiles brighten with a spritz of lime juice. It’s amazing!
#4 Smoked Brisket Chili
Smoky brisket combines with ground chuck, a medley of four different kinds of chiles, onions, and beans slow-cooked in a silky-rich tomato chili sauce. This chili is everything chili should be: thick, hearty, chunky, saucy with full-throttled flavor and a nice subtle spice.
If you ever have leftover smoked brisket, this is the recipe to transform it into probably the best bowl of chili you will ever eat!
#5 Spicy Chili
This chili is one of the first chili recipes I have ever made. It’s super spicy, so steer clear of this recipe if you don’t like spicy food!
There’s something everyone can enjoy on this list. Let’s check out the recipes!
We hope you enjoyed learning more about chili and that you cozy up to one of our 5 Best Chili Recipes tonight!
See ya on the mountain!