Pick your Protein: 5 Ways to Put Chili on the Table Tonight

beef chili recipe

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Is there a perfect antidote to the winter blahs? It just might be chili. It’s a great excuse to get out your favorite big pot for some aromatic simmering, and its versatility and reliance on generally humble ingredients means it can mold itself to just about any special diet — and often to what you have on hand. Read on for new and classic versions of this cozy dish.

1. Ground Beef

The Spanish words con carne (“with meat”) are always linked to chili for many, and the meat of choice is typically beef.  It’s a near perfect forum for Whole Foods Market ground beef: Ground daily from whole cuts of beef for ideal flavor and texture and raised with no added hormones. Flavorful and inexpensive, ground beef is perfect for chili’s magical combination of slow cooking and bright spice — add beans and veggies for extra color, texture and nutrients.

Some beefy classics:

2. Poultry Power

Turkey and chicken are almost as popular as beef in chili and yield super-flavorful results despite being a typically leaner choice. They’ve even spawned the dish known as “white chili,” which features white beans and often uses fresh rather than dried chile.

For excellent bowls of red or white:

Cookoff Winning Veggie Chili Recipe opens in a new tab

3. Meatless Chilis

The number of fabulous vegan and vegetarian chilis belies the dish’s burly reputation. A combination of sturdy veggies and plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, tofu and more make the meal both hearty and healthful.

Claim veggie victory with:


buffalo chili recipe

Buffalo Chili Recipe opens in a new tab

4. Wild-Card Chilis

Looking for a recipe for a special dinner, new flavor profiles or just something to impress a jaded game-day crowd? Check out these intriguing recipes for out-of-the-ordinary chilis guaranteed to spice up your winter calendar.

Warm up to:

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5. Slow-Cooker Chilis

Slow cookers are having a moment, and there’s no reason you can’t use yours for making chili — just adapt the recipe with these easy tricks: You may want to brown meat or other ingredients first, then put everything in the slow cooker until tender. And, since there’s no evaporation, however, you should decrease the liquid — the majority of recipes will come out well with about 25% less.


Don't Forget the Toppings

Some well-chosen extras can take your chili to the next level. Some favorite garnishes are diced avocado, shredded cheese, sliced or pickled jalapenos, sliced green onions and fresh cilantro. Want to go a little further? Try crumbled bacon or chorizo, chopped spiced almonds, guacamole, pickled vegetables, Sriracha, sliced olives, and black garlic. And tortilla chips and squares of cornbread can’t be beat on the side.

Discover even more opens in a new tab expert tips and tricks, recipe ideas and video how-tos: Eat Real Food®

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