15 Top-Rated Chili Recipes That Are Anything But Basic

Instant Pot Yardbird Chili with White Beans in a blue bowl topped with cheese
Photo: bd.weld

No game day watch party is complete without a big bowl of hearty chili. It's also the easiest choice to feed a big crowd — just keep warm in the slow cooker, set out a few toppings, and let everyone help themselves. Many of the top-rated recipes here were winners at chili cook-offs (what could be higher praise than that?). Vegetarian versions made fans out of meat-lovers, and a few meat-only and beans-or-bust fanatics changed their tune. Whatever your style, we've got a chili for every pot (or slow cooker or Instant Pot). Grab a bowl and enjoy!

01 of 15

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili
Molly

You know you have a touchdown when a recipe gets over 7,000 great reviews. MightyPurdue22's secret? Leaving no flavor-packed ingredient behind. This chili doubles down on meatiness with beef chuck and Italian sausage, plus chili beans, bell peppers, and lots of spices. Your crowd will definitely be coming back for seconds.

02 of 15

Terrific Turkey Chili

Terrific Turkey Chili
Nicolette

"This is an unusual recipe that really packs some zing to it," says Anitab50. Zing is right — with store-bought salsa, canned green chilies, and taco seasoning, this lighter, veggie-loaded turkey chili is anything but bland. Those same ingredients also speed up prep and cooking: the whole batch is ready in about an hour.

03 of 15

Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili

Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili
Marisa R.

Chileheads will love the spicy kick from jalapeños and green chilies in this white chicken chili (you can also dial down the heat if you like). Cooking the chicken separately or in advance helps bring this bowl together even faster. Cool it off with a dollop of sour cream and diced avocado, and enjoy!

04 of 15

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili
Allrecipes Magazine

Vegetarians and meat-lovers will gladly dig into a bowl of this hearty three-bean chili. Did we mention it's also gluten-free, and vegan if you skip the optional cheese topper? That's right — this is the dish that will please absolutely everyone at your football watch party.

05 of 15

Debdoozie's Blue Ribbon Chili

Debdoozie's Blue Ribbon Chili
cookin' mama

"I made this chili at a recent chili cook-off at my church and it won!" says Paravel. It's only more proof that the "blue ribbon" in this recipe's title is well-deserved. Reviewers couldn't stop raving about the hearty texture and how easy it was to make. "I wish I could give more than 5 stars to this recipe!" says Caranicole154.

06 of 15

Wicked Easy Chili

Wicked Easy Chili
Selina

New Englanders will appreciate that this beef and tomato chili is "wicked easy and wicked good!" Rock_Lobster agreed with the recipe's creator and felt inspired to get poetic: "Wicked Easy Chili haiku: 'No doubt it's 5 stars. What made it so magical? I have no idea."

07 of 15

Cincinnati Chili I

Cincinnati Chili I
Paul Crosby

No chili round up would be complete without the classic Cincinnati version. Instead of blow-your-top heat, this chili gets its warm, slightly sweet flavor from spices like cinnamon and allspice, plus a little unsweetened chocolate for richness. Serve over spaghetti (with chopped onion and Cheddar on top, of course) for a one-bowl meal.

08 of 15

The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World

The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World
the Michael Hanna

Grand recipe titles aside, this one is actually worth the hype. Meatless crumbles, kidney beans, chickpeas, and black beans make it so hearty and satisfying (no one is going to confuse this for just another soup). Throw a party or stash the leftovers in your freezer — this batch is big enough to feed a hungry crowd.

09 of 15

Paleo Chili

a bowl of chili without beans, topped with a dollop of sour cream and sliced green onions
Lnldad

No beans or added sugar makes this chili paleo-friendly. It's also just plain delicious. Lean ground bison and spicy pork sausage are the meats of choice here. The deep smoky flavor comes from a dried chipotle chile and chili powder. "Could not be a better seasoning combination!" says Sarah Stewart.

10 of 15

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Pumpkin Turkey Chili
Chef V

Who says pumpkin is just for pies? Here, the canned puree gives the chili plenty of body and sneaks in another veggie. A ground turkey base also keeps this dish on the lighter side, which sweetbean definitely appreciated: "I'm recommending it to everyone I know who is trying to eat healthier without sacrificing taste!"

11 of 15

Mile High Green Chili

Mile High Green Chili
RB46

Coloradans do their chili a bit differently, with big chunks of pork shoulder and a green base of jalapeño and Anaheim chilies. This version adds bright tomatillos to the mix, plus a bottle of lager to tenderize the meat and add tons of flavor. Cream cheese (yep, cream cheese) stirred in at the end rounds out the heat and gives this chili fantastic body and tang.

12 of 15

Slow Cooker Chipotle Chili

Slow Cooker Chipotle Chili
Darian Irving

Slow cooker chilis are the best game day fare — just fix, forget, and let it stay warm all afternoon. This one gets extra smoke and heat from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Mikkithechickie says it all: "I made this for a chili cook-off, won first prize, and came home with an empty pot!"

13 of 15

Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili
Cristi

Typically rich with beans and meat, chili isn't usually a place to find lots of fresh vegetables. Until now, that is. This vegetarian version is packed with fresh bell peppers, mushrooms, corn, and tomatoes. Lee Thrash's family found it just as satisfying. "My husband — not a lover of meatless dinners — raved about this recipe!"

14 of 15

Instant Pot(R) Yardbird Chili with White Beans

Instant Pot Yardbird Chili with White Beans in a blue bowl topped with cheese
bd.weld

Is there anything the Instant Pot can't do? The electric multi-cooker is particularly perfect for chili, where the pressure cooker function cooks dried beans until tender and the slow cooker function keeps the chili warm. This version also uses enchilada sauce and chopped green chilies. "I've made this recipe twice in the last month and we just love it," says Heidi Nelson Thomas.

15 of 15

Flatlander Chili

Flatlander Chili
Rock_lobster

"All the ingredients are in the right proportion; I wouldn't suggest altering a single thing," says Jeff Schmidt. That's pretty high praise if you're a chili enthusiast who loves to tinker with every batch. This straightforward beef and bean chili benefits from a long simmer to let the flavors meld.

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