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7 Healthy Chili Recipes That You Need In Your Life (You’ve Got to Try the First!)

Think of chili as a blank canvas for incorporating your favorite ingredients, and you’ll start to see that there are endless possibilities.

Whether you can’t get enough pumpkin this time of year, constantly crave the sweet-savory combo of pineapples and BBQ chicken, or simply need a recipe to toss together in a 30 minutes or less, there’s a chili recipe here for you.



Drunken Pumpkin Chili


Picture courtesy of The Scrumptious Pumpkin

Perfect for fall, this chili features not just real pumpkin puree but also pumpkin ale, lending this Drunken Pumpkin Chili a depth of flavor that more than makes up for the missing fat in the ultra-lean ground beef.

Serves 6


1 lb. 93% lean ground beef

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large carrots, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 cup pumpkin ale

2 cups (about 15 oz.) pure pumpkin puree

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced after seeds removed

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Cook the ground beef in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat into pieces, and add the garlic, onion, carrots, and bell pepper to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, and stir. Reduce the heat to medium once the meat has browned and veggies softened, about 7 minutes.

2. Add the tomato paste and seasonings – bay leaf, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice. Then pour in the pumpkin ale, and stir while scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Simmer for about 5 minutes before stirring in the pumpkin puree, diced tomatoes, and minced chipotle.

3. Cover the chili part-way, and reduce the heat to low. Let sit on the stove for about 45 minutes.

4. Stir in the black beans, and cook another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 275

Protein: 23 grams

Carbs: 33 grams

Fat: 6 grams

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Hawaiian Chicken Chili


Picture courtesy of Heather Likes Food

If pineapple works as a pizza topping and a complement to teriyaki, why not try it in chili too? It’s a great way to naturally sweeten chili and to balance out the BBQ sauce with a splash of citrus.

Serves 10


3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced green bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved

1 can (10 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes

1 can (14 oz.) kidney beans, drained

1 can (14 oz.) black beans, drained

1 cup BBQ sauce (or teriyaki sauce)

3 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. ground ginger


1. Heat olive oil in a frying pan on the stove. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken breast by seasoning both sides with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the pan, and cook until starting to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip.

2. Cover the pan, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes. When finished, transfer to the dish of a large slow cooker.

3. Add onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, beans, BBQ sauce, and 3/4 cup of reserved pineapple juice. Stir in the seasoning – chili powder, cumin, and ginger.

4. Cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or high for 3 to 4 hours.

5. Remove the chicken breasts to shred, and add the meat back into the chili. Stir in the pineapple chunks. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 650

Protein: 59 grams

Carbs: 72 grams

Fat: 15 grams


Half-Hour Turkey Chili


Picture courtesy of The Yummy Life

Sometimes you have a hankering for chili but no patience to let it slowly simmer on the stove or in a slow cooker all day long.

Well, even if you only have 30 minutes to throw together dinner, you can enjoy this tasty classic chili, which requires nothing but common staples like beans, diced tomatoes, an onion, chicken broth, and ground turkey.

Serves 4


1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 lb. 99% lean ground turkey

4 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix

1 can (14 oz.) fire-roasted tomatoes

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles

1 cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook the onion until soft, and then add the turkey. Break it into pieces as it cooks.

2. Once the meat is no longer pink, stir in the taco seasoning mix. After letting it cook for another minute, add the tomato paste. Stir well before adding diced tomatoes, beans, green chiles, and 1 cup of chicken broth.

3. Stir the chili well, and add chicken broth until it’s as thick as you like. Add salt to taste, and simmer for 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 250

Protein: 30 grams

Carbs: 20 grams

Fat: 5 grams


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Beef Chili with Coffee & Cocoa


Picture courtesy of A Girl Worth Saving

Don’t like tomatoes, even when mixed into a chili?

This hearty bowl uses a lot of common ingredients like beef, carrots, garlic, and paprika. But it also integrates brewed coffee, cocoa powder, and sweet potatoes to round out the flavors while avoiding tomatoes – both diced and paste.

Serves 4


1 Tbsp. coconut oil

3 large Poblano chiles, roasted and diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 lb. grass-fed beef

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup brewed coffee

2 cups water

1 tsp. parsley

1 Tbsp. paprika

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. oregano

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1–2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder


1. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet. Once heated, add the onion and poblano peppers, cooking until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown.

2. Add the ground beef to the pan, breaking it up into pieces as it cooks. Once browned, stir in the sweet potato, carrots, coffee, water, and spices – parsley, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cocoa powder.

3. Keep the chili simmering over medium-low heat for 30–35 minutes.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 286

Protein: 25 grams

Carbs: 13 grams

Fat: 15 grams


Black Bean & Plantain Chili


Picture courtesy of The Smart Kitchen

Add Caribbean flavor to your favorite bowl of chili by adding plantains, and you’ll also get a lot of potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. In that way they are similar to their yellow cousin, bananas, but plantains have more complex carbs.

Serves 4


1 1/2 cup diced sweet onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups diced bell peppers (fresh or frozen)

1 cup chopped plantain

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water

2 Tbsp. dried thyme

1 Tbsp. creole seasoning or chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice

Pinch of cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté until translucent.

2. Add the peppers and garlic, and cook for 3–5 minutes. Then add the plantains, and cook for another few minutes until softened.

3. Add the beans, diced tomatoes, water, and seasonings – thyme, chili powder, cumin, allspice, cloves, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined.

4. Bring the chili to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, and serve.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 461

Protein: 25 grams

Carbs: 89 grams

Fat: 2 grams


Chipotle Chocolate Bison Chili


Picture courtesy of First Generation Funk

Ground buffalo – a lean alternative to ground beef – has less calories, fat, and cholesterol than chicken or fish. And now that it’s readily available in fine grocery stores nationwide, bison meat is a great choice for making a hearty chili that’s packed with protein.

Serves 6


1 1/2 oz. extra bittersweet chocolate, grated

1 lb. ground bison

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 small onion, diced

1 sweet red pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. ground ancho chile

2 tsp. ground chipotle

1 cup water

1 Tbsp. flour

1 Tbsp. grated panela (cane sugar)

1 can (14 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 cups red kidney beans

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1. Turn a large slow cooker on high heat.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil. Then add the garlic, cayenne, ancho chile, and ground chipotle. Once the garlic becomes fragrant and soft, add the ground bison. Cook until no longer pink, and transfer to the slow cooker.

3. Heat the second tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Cook the onions with the flour and red pepper. Once softened, add on top of the ground bison.

4. Add water, panela (or brown sugar), chocolate, and tomatoes. Stir, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Cook chili on high for 5 hours. Add the red kidney beans, and cook for another hour.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 466

Protein: 31 grams

Carbs: 40 grams

Fat: 20 grams


Mollie Katzen’s Lentil Chili


Picture courtesy of Recipe Obsessed

This is a tasty vegetarian twist on chili that uses lentils instead of beans, creating a texture more like ground meat. Of course, you can also doctor this with your favorite chili meat, but it has enough protein not to need it.

Also it’s great enough as is, or topped with cheddar cheese and sour cream. Since Mollie Katzen is a go-to resource for vegetarian recipes – with cookbooks including Moosewood Cookbook and Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers – it’s no surprise this is delicious enough to satisfy omnivores and herbivores alike.

Serves 8


4 cups dried lentils (any variety)

6 to 7 cups water

3 to 4 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 lb.)

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 cups chopped onion

1 1/2 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 Tbsp. balsamic or apple cider vinegar

Crushed red pepper and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine the lentils with 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and bring to a simmer. Leave it this way for about 30 minutes, checking it every now and then to be sure it isn’t cooking any faster than a gentle simmer. (You can chop the vegetables during this time.)

2. Add tomatoes, cumin, paprika, thyme, garlic, and onions. Stir, mostly cover again, and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so. Check the water level as it cooks, and add water or tomato juice in 1/4-cup increments as needed, to prevent dryness. Stir from the bottom every several minutes during the cooking.

3. Add salt and tomato paste. Stir and continue to simmer slowly, partially covered, until the tomato paste is all blended in, about 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the vinegar, black pepper, and crushed red pepper, adjusting the seasonings to taste. Serve hot with optional toppings like cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa, toasted cashews, or fresh cilantro.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 379

Protein: 26 grams

Carbs: 66 grams

Fat: 1 gram


What did you think of these healthy chili recipes? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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