15 Fantastic Chili Recipes for Next-Level Comfort Food (2024)

Buh-bye, basic beans! Give cold weather food a makeover with unorthodox—but incredible—chili recipes featuring turkey, pumpkin, and even chocolate.

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How to Make Chili 15 Fantastic Ways

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Everybody has that go-to chili recipe they whip out every winter, usually right after they've cleaned off their crock-pot. And though that traditional bowl surely hits the spot on a chilly evening (no pun intended), it's really nothing new. That's why we've decided to mix it up with 15 unorthodox methods for making chili that are sure to blow your fuzzy socks off.

From white chicken to butternut squash chipotle, turkey to tofu, the ingredients in these tasty recipes will spice up every Sunday football and snowy evening. Plus, with vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and gluten-free options, even the pickiest eaters can partake. (Love your crockpot? Get more use out of it with these Savory Slow Cooker Recipes.)

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Crockpot Carne Asada Beer Chili

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What do you get when you cross a steak taco with a bowl of chili? A fit-for-a-king crockpot chili from Half Baked Harvest that's well worth the six hours it takes to cook and simmer. Despite the name, you'll only taste a hint of beer—the recipe contains tons of other delicious ingredients you'd never guess at, such as apple butter and cacao powder. (You can get more use out of your crock pot with one of these 15 Savory Crock Pot Recipes.)

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Buffalo Chickpea and Bulgur Chili

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For your next Sunday football gathering, skip the messy wings in favor of a buffalo flavored chili recipe from Naturally Ella. Buffalo sauce and blue cheese make this a vegetarian comfort food dish all your guests will enjoy.

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Super Healthy Pumpkin Turkey Chili

There are so many hidden vegetables in this pumpkin-based turkey chili from Jeanette's Healthy Living and, according to the blogger chef, "no one will ever know" thanks to the nutritious, flavorful sauce made with chipotle, oregano, and tomatoes.

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Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili

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Smoky and savory, this black bean sweet potato chili recipe from What's Gaby Cooking revolves around the fall's prized superfood—the sweet potato—and features quinoa, tomatoes, cumin, and other nutritious ingredients that make it a naturally satisfying dish. With straightforward instructions, you'll learn how to make chili in a cinch.

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Slow-Cooker Pulled-Pork Chili with Cornbread Dumplings

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Serious Eats knows how to make chili! If the tender pork shoulder, rich, layered sauce, and buttery beans weren't mouthwatering enough, Morgan Eisenberg tops this savory slow-cooker chili with moist cornbread dumplings for a tasty and utterly unique recipe you'll forget was modeled off traditional stew.

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One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

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Combine two of the best comfort foods into a stellar creation that's sure to satisfy everyone at your dinner table. The aptly-named Damn Delicious blog makes this chili dish easy to prepare in only 30 minutes. Consider it your secret weapon for stressful days when you're craving something delicious but too tired and hungry to spend eternity over the stove.

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Tequila and Lime Turkey Chili

This recipe sounds like something you'd take out of a shotglass—and it's just as intoxicating. Seasoned with several types of chili powder, chipotle, honey, cilantro, and, yes, tequila, this chili recipe from Pixelated Crumb tastes great with tortilla chips (or a margarita!)

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Creamy White Chicken Chili

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Consider this white chicken chili from Serious Eats traditional chili's creamier cousin. White beans, green chiles, tender chicken breasts, and grated cheese mingle into a cool weather stew that's a nice change from more tomato-based chili recipes.

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Triple Chocolate Beef and Bean Chili

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Soup is obviously a warming food, but so is chocolate. Cacao, semisweet chocolate, and chocolate stout beer add sweetness and depth to this rich beef chili from Saveur for an ideal cool weather meal.

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Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado

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Vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free eaters alike will love this butternut squash chili recipe from Cookie and Kate. The blog even gives instructions for thinning out the dish for those who want a less hearty meal.

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Queso Crockpot Chicken Chili with Roasted Corn and Jalapeño

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Eaten alone or as a dip, this creative queso chicken chili recipe from Pinch of Yum is "Tex-Mex à la crockpot." So if you love cheese, southwest and Mexican cuisine, consider this chili your new go-to comfort food.

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Southwest Chicken Chili

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Adding corn for texture and jalapeño for zest, Laura McNamara of Simply Scratch turns her favorite store-bought stew into chicken chili with a kick. Sprinkle on some cheese, sour cream, and/or tortilla chips to up that southwestern flair.

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Spicy Tofu Chili

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Because meat-eaters shouldn't be the only ones who get to enjoy chili during football Sundays, Tiny Green Mom concocted this spicy tofu chili for vegetarians. When cooked according to the instructions, the tofu takes on a meaty texture that any hungry football fan will appreciate.

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Slow Cooked Hatch Pepper Chili

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Broiled New Mexican chiles make The View from Great Island's slow cooked pepper chili different from typical jalapeño-based recipes. But Hatch chiles can be hard to find, making this dish extra special.

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Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili

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Deeming this "The Best Turkey Chili Recipe You'll Ever Taste," Kelly of Eat Yourself Skinny proves that even hearty dishes can be nutritious when prepared a certain way. One cup of this sweet and spicy stew clocks in at 264 calories with a heaping 40 grams of protein!

15 Fantastic Chili Recipes for Next-Level Comfort Food (2024)


What is the secret to amazing chili? ›

Elevate your chili recipe by adding an extra layer of flavor. Cocoa powder, bacon, cinnamon, ground coffee and tomato paste will all add a rich sweet & salty flavors that are sure to surprise and delight.

What is the most important spice in chili? ›

Most Common Chili Spices. Cumin, Chile Powders, and Paprika are the most common spices in chili followed by garlic, onion, coriander, Mexican oregano, and bay leaves. These ingredients can be combined to create a savory and well-balanced pot of top notch comfort food.

What to put in chili to make it taste better? ›

A cup of strong, brewed coffee will work wonders for your pot of chili, imparting a deep, roasted flavor that will make the chili taste like it simmered away all day long. For maximum flavor, reduce the coffee along with a blend of tomato paste, aromatic veggies and spices like we do in our Spicy Vegetarian Chili.

What not to put in chili? ›

Beans and non-vegetable fillers such as rice and pasta are not allowed." If that sounds a bit uptight, the ICS's Homestyle Chili competition defines chili as: "any kind of meat, or combination of meats, and/or vegetables cooked with beans, chili peppers, various spices, and other ingredients.

Why would you put vinegar in chili? ›

With only about 1 tablespoon per pot added toward the end of the cooking process, the vinegar will make the flavors more vibrant without overwhelming the dish with its biting tang. Through just a splash, everything becomes a little brighter, and the chili's flavors are more balanced.

What is chili magic? ›

Bush's Chili Magic transforms tomatoes and your favorite protein into a delicious weeknight chili. Stock your pantry with 15.5 oz recyclable cans of Bush's Classic Homestyle Chili Magic Chili Starter. Bush's Classic Homestyle Chili Magic is made from tender pinto beans in a mild chili sauce with traditional seasonings.

Does Wendy's put sugar in their chili? ›

Chili Concentrate: Chili Sauce (Water, Tomato Juice, Tomatoes, Calcium Chloride, Seasoning (Sugar, Salt, Corn Starch, Dried Chilies, Spices, Flavor Enhancer [Dextrose, Salt, Yeast Extract, Silicon Dioxide, Modified Corn Starch], Citric Acid, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Xanthan gum), Beans (Pink Beans, Red ...

Why put butter in chili? ›

Butter smooths out the bitterness and adds its unique richness, making you take another bite without quite knowing why. A dash of sugar and vinegar gives a sweet-sour flavor that also makes the sauce rounder and more satisfying.

What does adding cinnamon to chili do? ›

It's a spice, and it's not sweet at all by itself. I sneak it into tomato soup and beef stew, and a nice big cinnamon stick is one of the flavor enhancers in my beloved recipe for Jamie Oliver's Baked Chicken with Milk. And it is just the thing you need to make your chili taste like a crisp fall day any time of year.

Do you cook onions or meat first for chili? ›

Making homemade chili is quite simple. You'll first need to cook the onions and garlic. Then you'll add your beef and cook it through. You'll finally add the peppers and seasonings, stirring it together to get that beautiful flavor together.

Do you drain beans for chili? ›

Unless the recipe tells you to keep the canned beans in their liquid, you should drain your can and give the beans a good rinse before using. This will improve the flavor and texture of your finished dish.

What is the secret to perfect chili? ›

Cook it long enough

Chili recipes need time for flavors to meld and come together, and collagen-rich meat (like chuck roast or ground beef) needs 90 minutes to two hours to fully break down and become tender. If you don't have time for a long simmer, try using a slow cooker or making it the day before.

What secret ingredient will deepen the flavor of your chili? ›

Stir some puréed pumpkin into your chili just after sautéing your aromatics (onions, garlic, etc...) and before adding any liquid. This will deepen and sweeten its flavor, making it a great balance for all the chile peppers and heat.

Does chili need tomato paste? ›

Tomato paste is a great way to add bonus tomato flavor, and thickness, to a chili recipe. To get the best flavor it needs to be browned. Add a couple tablespoons (or a whole can if you want a thicker soup base) directly to the pan after cooking the meat and onions.

What ingredient will change your chili forever? ›

According to The Kitchn, that ingredient is cocoa powder. You may associate chocolate with dessert, but rest assured, adding cocoa powder won't make your chili sickeningly sweet. Instead, it'll contribute a layer of richness and balance out the spiciness.

Why do you put brown sugar in chili? ›

The real key to great chili however is brown sugar! In fact, brown sugar is what gives the chili a subtle sweetness you never even knew you were missing. With both subtly sweet tones and punches of heat, this Sweet and Spicy Chili, lives up to it's name, it truly is sweet and sassy!

What makes a good competition chili? ›

Chili must: LOOK GOOD, SMELL GOOD and TASTE GOOD. If in a competition, it must do so lukewarm in a styrofoam cup. It also must look good on as small plastic teaspoon used for judging and tasting. Chili that doesn't win violates one or more of the three basics.

What is the best liquid for chili? ›

Chili cooks low and slow, so you need enough liquid to tenderize the meat and keep everything from drying out. That liquid should also add flavor to the chili, so use chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or beer.


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