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45 chili recipes for cozy winter meals

Score a touchdown with a comforting bowl of chili.
Courtesy Rebecca Firkser

No other food is more synonymous with football than a piping hot bowl of chili. While we love burgers, wings and nachos, chili is one of those dishes that’s eaten throughout football season. After all, what’s more comforting as the temperatures start to dip than simmering chili on the stove for a few hours? Eaten all winter long, we think chili is a staple dish come the big game. 

The definition of chili is a loose one. This hearty dish can encompass so many different flavors and ingredients. There’s chili made with ground beef, but lean turkey or chicken works too. If you’re looking for meat-free alternatives, there are tons of options loaded with beans, greens and other vegetables. The common theme throughout involves a pot (or slow-cooker) of ingredients that are cooked together until the flavors meld together. 

Of course, there are all the regional differences to consider. Texas red chili is made by slowly simmering hunks of beef until tender. Cincinnati-style chili is often served over spaghetti with a shower of shredded cheese. White chili is made with white beans over kidney beans. Chile verde highlights a salsa made with tomatillos and peppers. The list goes on and on. There’s equally as many topping options as there are chili varieties. Sour cream and cheese are classic, but we always welcome some brightness from ingredients like cilantro, scallions and jalapenos. Some recipes stretch their creativity further and call for topping chili with crushed chips or even chocolate chips! 

Whatever your preference, we’ve rounded up 45 of our favorite chili recipes just in time for the big game. 

Game Day Chili

This crowd-pleasing vegetarian chili has a special ingredient that sets it apart from the rest. Whole dried chilies are blended into a broth, which serves as the base for the chili. By using dried chilies, you’ll get a distinctly subtly sweet, smoky flavor that you wouldn’t be able to acquire by using ground spices alone. 

Brian's Seriously Good Chili

Fans of "The Office" will be especially excited about this chili recipe. Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin in the NBC sitcom, shares his recipe, which encourages experimentation. Favor ground turkey over pork? Brian is on board. Want a spicier chili? Add red pepper flakes. Craving a thicker chili? Brian says to just keep cooking it on the stove to let more of the liquid evaporate. 

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Gaby Dalkin shares her ultimate pantry chili recipe — and it’s vegetarian to boot. Here, the bulk of the chili is made with canned black beans, quinoa and sweet potatoes, which add a welcome color contrast and texture.. The whole thing comes together in under an hour, making it equally ideal for a nutritious weeknight dinner as it is for game day. 

White chicken chili is the answer whenever you’re in the mood for something comforting but craving a dish that’s a little lighter and leaner. Made in one-pot, this recipe is all about building layers of flavor. To cut down on time, use shredded rotisserie chicken and stir it in just before serving. 

If there was ever a time to break out the slow-cooker, this chili recipe would be it. Unlike many slow-cooker chili recipes, you don’t need to sauté or brown the meat in a separate pan in advance. All it takes is throwing all the ingredients  — chicken thighs, beans, corn and aromatics — in the slow-cooker and letting it do its thing for a few hours. 

Vegan Firehouse Chili

If the name was any indication, firehouse chili is all about putting spices on the forefront of flavor. While the base is made of red kidney beans and tomatoes, a bevy of spices take this vegan chili to the next level. Don’t skip out on topping it with the lime “sour cream” which is made by blending silken tofu until smooth. 

Butternut squash takes center stage in this chili recipe. Cubed squash is cooked alongside black beans, canned tomatoes and shredded rotisserie chicken, which add great visual interest while ensuring you get in all your nutrients. This recipe feeds a crowd, making it an ideal game day-contender. 

Adam Richman's Easy Veggie Chili

Made in one pot with a handful of pantry staples, this chili recipe could not be easier. Ingredients like taco seasoning and jarred salsa bring the flavor while cutting down on time. Take a cue from Adam Richman and use this chili as a filling for burritos or tacos, or top it on hot dogs. 

Copycat Chili

This crave-worthy chili is inspired by a popular fast food chain’s beloved recipe. Start by browning the beef in a Dutch oven, which does double duty by bringing out the beefy flavor while leaving rich pan drippings for the rest of the chili to be made in. After the beef is browned, add in all the usual ingredient suspects like aromatics, canned beans and tomato sauce and simmer slowly. 

If you want to be the star of game day, you need to set up a DIY chili bar. Go beyond just offering sour cream and cheese — red onion, avocado, tomatoes, chips, jalapenos and green onions are all great options. This recipe also has a secret ingredient that’ll make your guests come back for seconds — chocolate chips! The chocolate gets added at the end of the recipe and melts into the chili enhancing its rich, savory flavor. 

Vegan 3-Bean Chili

The joy of a bean-based chili recipe is not only that it’s a great option for vegetarians, but it’s easier on the wallet to boot. This recipe uses a trio of kidney, pinto and black beans and gets spiced with chilies in adobo. For a thicker chili, mash some of the beans with a fork and stir them into the chili, which adds great body. 

There are a few reasons this recipe is a standout. First, gently spiced chicken chili is topped with flaky biscuits, which is the ultimate partner to chili. Second, there’s only two ingredients to chop — jalapeno peppers and green onions. This recipe leans on canned goods like beans, diced tomatoes, and boxed biscuit mix to make assembly a breeze. 

Adam Richman's Flavor Bomb Steak Chili

If you’re really looking to wow your game day-gang, follow Adam Richman’s lead and add steak to your chili. Cubes of beef stew meat add fantastic texture, but the novelty alone is enough to get everyone excited. For an even greater depth of flavor, this recipe combines cocoa, oyster sauce, coffee and Maggi seasoning to create a real umami bomb. 

Chili on the Grill

Grilling makes just about everything taste better, so why not apply the technique to chili? By cooking the chili on a searing hot cast iron over a charcoal grill, the ingredients get deeply browned while also acquiring a fantastic smoky flavor. Here, a touch of cocoa powder adds a savory earthiness while vinegar balances the chili with a boost of acidity. 

Cincinnati Chili Dog

Chili and hot dogs are the ultimate game day duo. While any chili works on top of a dog, we love the flavor of Cincinnati chili. Spiked with chocolate, cinnamon, allspice and cloves, this aromatic chili plays particularly nicely with the snap of an all-beef hot dog. Don’t forget to top it in shredded cheddar cheese for the full effect! 

One-Pot Vegetarian Chili

This vegetarian chili has a surprising secret ingredient that’s a real game changer — raisins! While the flavor isn’t overt, the raisins add a subtle sweetness along with a great texture that almost mimics meat. Made with canned beans and tomatoes, this chili can be easily whipped up from basic pantry staples. Topping the chili with cashews is optional, but we think the crunch is not to be missed.  

Coconut, Chicken and Chickpea Chili

For the adventurous chili eaters in your circle, this recipe is worth making. Chickpeas and shredded chicken add protein, while coconut milk adds a creamy base. The chili is infused with green chilies, chipotle powder and ground ginger, which creates a tropical-like flavor. 

Spicy Meaty Chili

This chili recipe is all about bringing the heat. For the spice, New Mexico chile powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne and chipotle chile powder are all added in. There’s other spices too, which balance the flavor of the chili including cumin and paprika. 

Adam Richman's Chicken Chile Verde

Inspired by a dish he had in Mexico, Adam Richman’s chicken chile verde is the answer when you’re looking for something a bit lighter and brighter than the usual red sauce version. The homemade salsa verde comes together quickly, making use of your slow-cooker to do the heavy lifting. 

Siri Daly's Creamy Chicken Chili

Siri Daly’s recipe riffs on classic white chicken chili with ground chicken, cannellini beans and chopped green chiles. While white beans make up the body of the chili, flour is also added to make a roux, which helps thicken it. Add a splash of cream just before serving to ensure optimal creaminess. 

Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili

This vegan chili is a great way to meet your vegetable intake. Loaded with cubes of butternut squash, tomatoes, bell pepper and beans, the chili gets flavored with plenty of garlic and chipotle in adobo. It’s cozy, comforting and perfect for sitting back and watching the game. 

Cincinnati Chili 4 Ways

Cincinnati-style chili is known for its depth of flavor and the many ways in which it can be served. In this recipe, Derrel Smith shares four ways to use up this beloved chili. While you can of course eat it by the bowlful, Smith recommends serving it over spaghetti, tucked into enchiladas or smothered over hot dogs. 

Mole-Style Brisket Chili

This hearty chili takes inspiration from Mexican mole and Tex-Mex flavors. Made with chiles and chocolate, this deeply flavorful chili is rich, savory and perfect for pairing with Friday night football. Keep it dairy-free by topping the chili with coconut yogurt, pickles onions and cilantro. 

Chili doesn’t have to include beans — and this recipe from JJ Smith is here to prove it. What makes this recipe a standout is the use of canned pumpkin. It’s a great way to add flavor and nutrients to the chili with little effort. 

Joy Bauer’s salsa verde chicken chili has a few special additions that make it a standout. First, Bauer bucks tradition by including both kidney and cannellini beans. There’s also cubes of butternut squash, which are a great way to sneak some more nutrients in. The whole thing is made in the slow-cooker and couldn’t be easier to throw together. 

Ree Drummond is the queen of cozy and comforting recipes, and this chili is no different. The recipe includes a short ingredient list, but the flavor really comes out as it’s cooked low and slow over the stove. Ree recommends serving it up with cornbread, on burgers or spooned over cheesy nachos. 

Texas Chili Mac

If you’re unfamiliar, Texas chili mac is a hybrid of macaroni and cheese and chili and takes notes from Cincinnati-style chili. Made with cubed chuck roast and spiced with dried chilies, the chili is especially hearty and flavorful. Combine it with cooked pasta and top with sour cream and cheese for the ultimate Texas-style chili mac. 

Robert Irvine loves a regional specialty, and at the top of that list sits Cincinnati-style chili. Serve over spaghetti, this beloved Ohio staple is totally unique. It’s the perfect dish to serve to a hungry crowd on game day. 

Bill Geist's Gonzo Chili

Willie Geist swears by his dad’s affectionately named Gonzo chili. The joy of this recipe is that it’s all about flexibility. Geist encourages tinkering with the chili until you’ve got your perfect version, which shouldn’t be hard since it’s such a solid recipe. The beer is optional but encouraged. Don’t worry, the booze cooks off but you’re left with a depth of flavor that’s not to be missed. 

This is a true set-it-and-forget-it recipe, perfect for when you’re entertaining  a big crowd on  big game. Despite the short ingredient list, this chili packs a ton of flavor. An adobo chile adds a subtle smoky flavor that gets mellowed by the lager, while the soy sauce brings out umami throughout the dish. 

Classic Beef Chili with Beans

While we love experimentation, sometimes you just want a recipe that makes you nostalgic. This classic beef chili is just that. Better yet, it comes together in under 30 minutes, which is perfect when you’re short on time. It’s a game day staple that the whole family will get on board with. 

Chicken Chili Verde

This recipe mashup takes a cue from Mexico and goes bold on flavors. Think of it like a mix between chile verde and white chicken chili. Chicken thighs are seared, then poached in stock until tender. Then, add green vegetables such as poblano, green bell peppers, jalapenos and tomatillos to the mix. At the end, add in white beans for a hearty stew. 

The star of Matt Adobo’s chili is the coffee-rubbed brisket that gets smoked low and slow. Diced brisket is then cooked alongside bacon, aromatics and black beans to make an exceptionally hearty chili. While the toppings are up to you, we love Matt’s idea of adding a sprinkling of crushed cheddar crackers on top. 

Slow Cooker White Bean and Kale Chili

This white chili is a vegetable lover’s dream. Made in a slow-cooker, white beans and sweet potato are cooked until tender and aromatic along with chopped green chilies. The kale gets added in the last 15 minutes, which is a welcome addition in flavor and color. 

Pimento Chili Cheese Dip

If your game day party is centered more around snacks and apps than dinner, this pimento chili cheese dip is for you. The chili part of this recipe couldn’t be simpler to execute — ground beef is browned and spiced with chili powder until cooked through. Then, homemade pimento cheese is added and stirred until melted. 

Joy Bauer takes two football favorites and combines them in this recipe mashup. Chili gets the buffalo chicken treatment with a good douse of hot sauce and a topping of crumbled blue cheese. For those with more sensitive palates who still want the buffalo flavor, simply use less hot sauce. 

Chili with Beef, Veal and Sausage

Top Chef Junior contestant Owen Pereira is all about the meat with his triple threat chili. Here, beef, veal, pork sausage and bacon get spiced with chilies in adobo and ground spices. Cooking the chili for four hours ensures all the flavors meld together and that the meat is tender and falls apart.  

We’ll admit that this is a little more involved than your average slow-cooker recipe, but trust us, it’s worth the effort. Ground beef, bacon and vegetables get browned and seasoned in a skillet before it’s transferred to a slow-cooker. Ingredients like molasses, brown mustard, chilies and bacon take the flavor to the next level. 

This hearty chili from Sandra Lee couldn’t be easier to make. Ground beef and canned beans are combined with jarred marinara sauce, which cuts down on prep time while adding a ton of flavor. The seasoning is made with pantry staples like chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and ground cumin. 

Cincinnati-Style Chili

Chef Ryan Scott offers two options to eat his Cincinnati-style chili. For an authentic Cincinnati 3-way, serve the cocoa-spiked chili over spaghetti and garnish it with shredded cheese and chopped onions. For a West Coast variation, pour the chili directly into a bag of corn chips and eat it straight out of the bag. Whatever option you choose, they’re both game day-appropriate. 

Chili 'Cheese' Fries

Vegans, rejoice! These chili cheese fries are totally dairy-free. The joy of this recipe is that you can use whatever leftover chili you have on hand — perhaps you’ll get some ideas from this roundup? The cheese is made using cashews, spices and nutritional yeast, which gives it that signature cheesy flavor and color. Using frozen fries is ideal for cutting down on prep time. 

Vegan Sloppy Joes with Lentil Chili

Hearty lentils and meaty mushrooms take the place of animal protein in this rich chili. Spiced with chili powder and sweetened with brown sugar, this vegan chili balances flavors as well as it does textures. While you could serve it on its own, we love serving it between two buns for a sloppy Joe. 

Bobby Flay is known for elevating any dish he touches, and this vegetarian chili is no different. While many vegetarian recipes focus solely on a combination of beans, Flay opts for combining a bevy of hardy vegetables like eggplant and mushrooms for a meat-like texture. To go with this inventive chili, Flay recommends serving it with avocado shishito relish, fried tortilla strips and two types of Mexican cheese. 

Maya Rudolph's Chocolate Chili

Chocolate and chili may not be the most obvious combination, but Maya Rudolph insists that they’re a natural pair. A well spiced vegetarian chili is all about the beans. While great on its own, a sprinkling of chocolate chips creates a sweet-meets-savory experience in every bite. 

Frito Pie

If you’re unfamiliar, don’t let the name fool you — frito pie isn’t really pie. It’s a genius way to make chili a little more exciting, while also cutting down on cleanup. A scoop of chili is served in individual chip bags along with all the classic  toppings like sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and of course, crushed Fritos.