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 adds the most flavor to chili? ›

Spices: While cumin, chile powder, and cayenne pepper tend to be common additions to many chili recipes, there's a broad world of flavor out there to experiment with. Try a little fenugreek, turmeric, garam masala, or sumac to layer in more complex flavors.

What are the best beans to use for homemade chili? ›

The best beans for chili are pinto, kidney, and black beans, like in this easy and tasty recipe. This 3-bean chili freezes great for meals later in the week. If you prefer thinner chili, add an extra can of tomato sauce. The green chiles are not hot and add a wonderful flavor, so don't be afraid to use them.

How do you take chili to the next level? ›

Cook Low & Long

For the best results, cook your chili on low heat for an extended period of time. This slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld together and intensify over time, resulting in a rich, flavorful 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.

How does Martha Stewart make chili? ›

Add chili powder, cocoa, and tomato paste; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, broth, and cooked beef. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until thickened slightly, 25 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve with sour cream and chives.

Does chili taste better the longer you simmer it? ›

A low and slow cook time—at least an hour total—is key for drawing out the most flavor in a pot of chili. Yes, a quick chili is most welcome on weeknights, but it won't have quite the same results. A slow cooker works wonders, but if you're short on time, try a pressure cooker.

What is my chili missing? ›

Sometimes after a long simmer, your chili will taste wonderful be maybe missing one little thing you can't figure out. Try a tad bit of vinegar or a squeeze of lime! The acidity in vinegar & limes bring a good roundness to the pot and binds all the flavors together.

Which onion is best for chili? ›

Sweet onions are great for caramelizing due to their higher sugar content. You can cook them into your chili, serve them raw over top, or even elevate your chili with a sophisticated caramelized onion topping! Some of my favorite sweet onions are Walla, Walla, Maui, and Vidalia Onions.

Are cannellini or great northern beans better for chili? ›

Whether you're making a white chili or you just want contrast in your traditional chili pot, cannellini beans have a rich, meaty texture and hold up well to heat.

Why do you put baking soda in chili? ›

Ground Beef: Provides the hearty meaty base for the chili. Opt for 85% lean; the fat enriches the meat, enhancing the dish's overall flavor and texture. And don't stress about the fat—post-cooking, it's easy to skim off any excess. Baking Soda: Helps tenderize the beef by locking in moisture, making it more succulent.

What does coffee do for chili? ›

Though it may be an unusual choice, coffee adds an earthy richness to the existing flavors and plays well with spices like cumin and cayenne pepper. Plus, it's a flexible ingredient – while we typically reach for instant espresso powder, you can also add in brewed coffee, making this dish the perfect use for leftovers.

What liquid to add to chili? ›

While something as basic as water will get the job done, broth is a quick and simple way to give chili an extra-savory flavor, and canned tomatoes can add a layer of sweetness. When adding beer or wine, you'll want to keep it to about 1/2 cup when using the slow cooker, so the flavor isn't overpowering.

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.

Why do you put brown sugar in chili? ›

The brown sugar gave it a sweet/tangy flavor that reminded me of BBQ-sauce! Th chili was so good - it was hard to stop eating it! I did had some extra veggies (1 cl. garlic, 1 celery stalk, 1 carrot, 1 bell pepper, 1 hot pepper) and used a can of diced tomatoes rather than tomato juice.

What happens when you add sugar to chili? ›

Why is sugar used in this chili recipe? Sugar is used to cut the acidity of the tomatoes used in my homemade chili recipe. Using a small amount of sugar balances the flavors which in turn creates a smoother and richer taste overall.

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