It’s winter (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least). You’re cold. You’re hungry. But you’re not just hungry; you’re hungry for comfort food, something hearty and rich to get you through the short days and long nights. You can blame biology for that! According to Everyday Health, the dark, cold days of winter cause our bodies to crave more food in general, and more nutrient-packed foods in particular. Lucky for us, chili recipes are a thing that exists. It checks all the boxes for a filling, comforting, and — dare we say — perfect winter meal.
Chili Recipes to the Rescue
Before you dig in, though, there’s something we need to discuss: what is chili exactly? The answer probably depends on who you ask, and the strength of their conviction may surprise you. Chili is both universal and controversial, with the biggest debate revolving around beans: do they or don’t they belong?
Even National Geographic has explored the question, without a clear answer to report. As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t matter. Whatever side of this debate you fall on, there’s a chili recipe out there for you.
Here are a few of our favorites.
“True” Texas Chili
Chili has been the state dish of Texas since 1977, and some claim it was invented there (though no one is really sure). Texas-style chili is simple: no beans, no tomatoes, no vegetables. Just meat, a thick chili paste, and a few seasonings. The International Chili Society (ICS), which oversees chili cook-offs across the country, calls the style Traditional Red, provided that red chili peppers are used (Chili Verde if green). Unsurprisingly, the ICS’s roots are in Texas, likely contributing to its place of honor in the chili world.
White Chicken Chili
Via Food Network
With a list of ingredients to make a traditionalist scoff, white chicken chili is nonetheless a favorite meal for many open-minded chili enthusiasts. The dish is so-named for its ingredients and pale color; it typically omits red peppers, tomatoes, and other bold-hued elements in favor of a lighter palette, which happens to be lighter on the palate as well. In ICS terms, this would be considered a Homestyle chili, which allows for vegetables and requires beans rather than forbidding them.
Vegan Bean Chili
Via The Kitchn
The ICS introduced a veggie chili category in 2018, more than 50 years after their founding. Even with an official sanction, plant-based chilis still make many traditionalists squirm. This style typically gets its bulk from beans, though it may include meat alternatives as well. Either way, these chilis offer much of the flavor and the heartiness of the dish without the meat.
Additional Chili Recipes for the Adventurous Eater
If the above recipes seem just a little too normal for your personal dinner table, have no fear: there’s truly no end to the possibilities with chili. Here are a handful of more unique recipes to try:
- Cincinnati-Style Chili Served Over Spaghetti (Simply Recipes)
- Buffalo Chickpea Chili (The First Mess)
- Pumpkin Turkey Chili (Jeanette’s Healthy Living)
- Carne Asada Crockpot Chili (Half Baked Harvest)
- Tequila and Lime Turkey Chili (Pixelated Crumb)
- Chocolate Chili (Paula Deen)
- Thai-Style Chicken Chili (Taste of Home)
Or you might re-create one of ICS’s award-winning recipes, bringing the spirit of the competition home to keep you warm through the winter months.
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