9 Chili Recipes That Are Like a Warm Hug

February 26, 2014

Is there anything better than a bowl of chili?

Really, though -- it's spiced, warm, and hearty; it's flexible enough to endure endless variations; and, above all, it's the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Whether you're vegan, gluten-free, or the dreaded picky eater, no one can turn up their nose at a bowl of chili. 

That's because, despite stiff competition, chili is the ultimate comfort food. Walking into a house redolent of long-simmered chili is the equivalent of a warm hug from someone you actually want to be hugged by. Another great thing about chili? It makes a ton: so whether you're inviting a crowd or just eating for one, straight from the pot, there will definitely be leftovers. And everyone knows chili tastes better the next day.

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Tempeh Chili by Gena Hamshaw

Tempeh Chili on Food52


Short Rib Chili by lastnightsdinner 

Short Rib Chili on Food52


Tuxedo Chili by TheRunawaySpoon

Tuxedo Chili on Food52


Chili Gumbo by aargersi

Chili Gumbo on Food52


Slightly Smoky Mixed-Bean Chili by creamtea

Sightly Smoky Mixed-Bean Chili on Food52


Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili by Gena Hamshaw

Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili on Food52


Indian Spiced Lamb Chili by Divya Kaur

Indian Spiced Lamb Chili on Food52


Buffalo-Style Quinoa Chili by Stacy McCann

Buffalo-Style Quinoa Chili on Food52


Just Good Chili by Jestei

Just Good Chili on Food52

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • btglenn
  • john
  • Waverly
  • Alan Divack
    Alan Divack
  • Mike Vella
    Mike Vella
A kitchen scientist and dog-lover. Someday I want to have you over for dinner.


btglenn March 2, 2014
Kate, Waverly, Real Texas Chile, as it used to be made by real texans, consisted of beef cut into small dice (sold in markets as chile meat). None of the ground stuff. Onions, fried golden, chile powder to taste, dry poblano chiles ground fine with a little liquid, garlic, salt and pepper. Other herbs and spices added to the cook's discretion. Some water or broth is added and the mix is cooked until the meat shreds. Cooked separately are the pinto beans (not kidney) cooked with a chunk of salt pork, an onion, a little salt and pepper. To serve: ladle some of the beans in your chile bowl and spoon in as much chile as you wish. Top with broken salty crackers, yellow cheese, and chopped onion. Other toppings added according to the diner's wishes. Note: no tomatoes, no cocoa, and the beans cooked separately even if you serve them in the same dish. A recipe from a simpler time, but definitely chile as it used to be cooked on old-time Texas kitchens .
john March 2, 2014
If it's vegan it's not chili.
Mike V. January 28, 2015
Waverly February 26, 2014
All of these recipes for chili look awesome. There is just one little issue that I think would be interesting for someone to address: classic chili does not contain beans. As recipes for chili have evolved, beans and other ingredients have joined the party - and have brought great things to it, but just because a bowl of soup has chili powder in it, does not make it chili. Someone had to say it.
Kate February 28, 2014
Yes, Waverly, I have this issue, too! Texan fiance won't eat chili with beans, and I don't blame him...but it's so hard to find a good bean-free chili recipe.
Alan D. February 26, 2014
try this really delicious vegetarian chili; you won't miss the meat (esp. since so much ground meat is tasteless anyway.