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Hey guys! A funny thing happened a few weeks ago…I signed up to participate in a chili cook-off! It’s for a great cause – supporting breast cancer awareness and research. I’ve never been in any kind of cooking contest before so this should be fun. We have a family chili recipe that we’ve used for years but I started to wonder if it’s cook-off level good. So I’ve been doing research into the best chili recipes for some inspiration!
The Quest for the Best Chili Recipes
We take our chili very seriously here in Springfield. Fun fact, in 1993 the Illinois state legislature named Springfield the “The Chilli Capital of the Civilized World”. And yes, there are two “l”s in chilli. There is some debate about the origin of the spelling. Some say it was just a spelling error on the sign of the Dew Chili Parlor back in 1909. Their website claims the second “l” stands for love. I like that one so that’s what I’m going with.
Yup, there is deep chili history here. Joe DeFrates, the founder of Chili Man Chili, was from Springfield. And Joe Rogers’ Chili Parlor was featured on an episode of “Man vs Food” on the Travel Channel back in 2009. Host Adam Richman took on the Firebrand chili challenge and tied the record for eating five bowls of the atomic-level spicy chili!
During my quest to find the best chili recipes I also learned some things. Like chili is very much a regional thing. Different areas of the United States prefer distinctly unique variations of chili.
Regional Chili Recipes
- Springfield chili features finely ground beef, kidney beans, and differing levels of a spicy tomato-based sauce.
- Texas chili contains a red chile paste and is distinguished by a lack of beans, as in, don’t let beans anywhere near my chili.
- In Oklahoma and Colorado, pinto beans are often added to a pot of chili.
- In the Southwest, you’ll find chunks of beef or pork in your chili flavored with spices like cumin and either a red or green chile sauce. Pinto beans are cooked separately but are often served with the chili.
- Cincinnati chili has more of a Mediterranean vibe with ground beef, tomato paste and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg in addition to chili powder and cumin. Cincinnati chili is served over spaghetti or hot dogs.
Armed with my new-found knowledge about chili, I set out to find the best chili recipes around. There are so many variations on this popular dish! If the cooler weather has you wishing for a warm bowl of spicy chili, read on for some inspiration.
The Best Chili Recipes
Chili is a great choice for casual gathering because there are an endless amount of ways to “dress it up”. Put out a big ole pot of chili and a variety of toppings and let your guests choose. There’s a secret ingredient in this recipe but you’ll have to click through to find out what.
In my opinion, the best chili recipes are simple. This classic chili recipe courtesy of The Wholesome Dish fits the bill. Just meat, beans, and spices that you probably have on hand.
Here’s another classic take on chili from Sprinkle Some Sugar. There’s a twist though – instead of kidney beans, this recipe calls for cannellini beans. This would be perfect with a side of cornbread!
Ooh, this chili recipe looks good! Featuring a combination of kidney, black, and pinto beans as well as ground beef AND sausage AND bacon! Add the simple but delicious blend of spices and you’ll have one sassy bowl chili to enjoy!
This chili recipe also features a combination of meats including ground beef, stew beef, and bacon. It’s a meat lover’s AND a chili lover’s dream in one bowl. Finish it off with your fave toppings and a side of cornbread or a simple salad.
If meat in your chili isn’t your thing, we’ve got you covered. This vegetarian chili recipe courtesy of Tastefulventure is packed with flavor with beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. You won’t even miss the meat. And it’s a great low-cal option too with only 200 calories per serving.
There are two things I love about this chili recipe – it’s easy and it has Pale Ale! My favorite of the ales. It also packs a punch because of the jalapenos and poblanos. If you’re a spicy chili lover, then this recipe is for you.
Who says chili can only contain a tomato-based sauce? Check out this buffalo chicken chili recipe. Cook chicken, beans, buffalo wing sauce, cream cheese, and diced tomatoes in your slow cooker and say goodbye to traditional chili.
Here’s a perfect example of southwestern style chili. This recipe uses pork shoulder and Hatch green chiles. If you haven’t heard of Hatch green chile, then you’re missing out! Hatch is a small town in New Mexico that’s known as the chile capital of the world because of the AMAZING chile the area produces. Another fun fact for ya. I went to high school about 30 miles from Hatch in the small town of Truth or Consequences. Yup, it’s a real place.
I couldn’t leave Texas out of the mix. Here’s a great recipe for authentic Texas chili. Meaning, no beans in this one. Just a tasty combination of ground beef and spices that will have you going back for seconds.
I don’t know about you, but I’m in the mood for some chili now. And that’s a good thing because I have a feeling I’ll be taste-testing a LOT of it in the coming weeks.
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