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10 Healthy Chili Recipes

Vegan Tempeh Chili

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“My chili is lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber than most beef versions, but it's still packed with protein and has tons of flavor,” says Melissa Costello, author of The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook: 125+ Plant-Based Vegan Recipes for a Fit, Happy, Healthy You. “Don’t tell your guests it’s meat free, and see what they say after a mouthful—I guarantee they won’t even miss the meat."

Serves: 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 package (8 ounces) tempeh, crumbled
2 tablespoons chili powder blend or chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cans (15 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
Cooked brown rice (optional)
Freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat and sauté onion, garlic, and bell pepper for about 5 to 8 minutes, until soft. Crumble in tempeh and add chili powder, coriander, cumin, and oregano. Cook for a 3 minutes, stirring to incorporate. Add tomatoes, water, and all beans. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add corn and cook for 5 more minutes until corn is soft. Serve over brown rice and top with cilantro, if desired.

Nutrition score per serving (without rice): 430 calories, 10g fat (2g saturated), 62g carbs, 25g protein, 17g fiber

Chili con Carne

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This filling chili is made with lean flank steak to help keep the fat content low. Adding both chilies and hot sauce spices things up and boosts your metabolism, but if you prefer a milder meal, omit the Tabasco.

Serves: 8

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced 
1 to 1 1/2 pound flank steak, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chili powder 
1 tablespoon smoked paprika 
1 tablespoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1 teaspoon onion powder 
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained 
1 can (15 ounces) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained 
1 can (4 ounces) fire-roasted, diced green chilies (mild or hot)
1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce 
1 quart beef broth
4 dashes Tabasco hot pepper sauce (optional)
4 tablespoons shredded Mexican cheese blend (optional)

Warm oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Add flank steak and all dry seasonings, stirring to coat meat. Add beans, chilies, tomato sauce, and broth. Raise the heat to medium high and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until ready to serve. Taste for heat level and add additional hot pepper sauce if desired. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and serve.

Nutrition score per serving: 305 calories, 13g fat (2g saturated), 51.5g carbs, 17.5g protein, 19g fiber, 10g sugars

Recipe provided by Sous Vide Supreme.

Zucchini Chili

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Studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants found in zucchini, may protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, so consider this dinner a feast for your eyes—literally.

Serves: 8

2 pounds extra-lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups chopped onions
6 cups chopped zucchini
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
2 cans (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup beer or water
1 bunch cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Brown ground beef, drain, and set aside. Add oil to a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat and sauté onions, zucchini, and garlic until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, and spices, then pour in water or beer to bring to desired consistency. Simmer 1 hour. Serve topped with cilantro.

Nutrition score per serving: 202 calories, 2g fat (0.5g saturated), 32g carbs, 14g protein, 8g fiber, 3g sugars

Recipe provided by Brenda Stanley, author of The Zucchini Houdini.

Bumper Crop Chili

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One serving of this dish provides 55 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C, which not only protects against colds but also has been found to help you burn more fat.

Serves: 6

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 lime (zest and juice)
1/4 cup plus 1 1/4 teaspoon grapeseed oil
1 garlic bulb, halved
2 poblano peppers
1 large onion, diced
1 chipotle pepper, minced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup minced cilantro stems

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl combine potatoes, salt, lime zest, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon oil to coat potatoes. In another bowl coat garlic and poblanos with 1 1/4 teaspoon oil. Place potatoes, garlic, and peppers on a baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.
2. Squeeze garlic from skin and set aside. Place roasted poblano peppers into plastic bag and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remove from bag, peel charred skin, and cut into pieces.
3. Add remaining oil to a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add onion, chipotle pepper, and spices and cook for 3 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, stock, roasted garlic, poblanos, and cilantro stems and cook for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add sweet potatoes and cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Nutrition score per serving: 274 calories, 10g fat (1g saturated), 40g carbs, 7g protein, 9g fiber, 10g sugars

Recipe provided by Chef Elle Green, culinary correspondent for CBS affiliate in Memphis, TN. Photo: Hillary Rosenberg


Winter White Bean Chili

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Apple cider vinegar is the go-to natural health elixir, touted to do everything from lower cholesterol to decrease the risk of cancer to help you lose weight. While the research is inconclusive, this chili will keep you satisfied, as the fiber and protein help balance your blood sugar, which reduces cravings.

Serves: 6

1 1/4 pound lean ground turkey or chicken
2 teaspoons light flavored olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 can (4 ounces) green chilies
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cans (15 ounces) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Hot sauce (optional)

1. Heat a large pot or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink, drain, and remove from pot. Wipe out pot with paper towel or wash if necessary.
2. Return pot to medium heat, add oil and onions, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chilies, oregano, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add beans and broth, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add vinegar and cooked turkey and cook for additional 5 minutes. Add additional cayenne and hot sauce, if desired.

Nutrition score per serving: 294 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated), 26g protein, 10g fiber, 3g sugars

Recipe provided by Lauren Harris-Pincus, R.D., and Kathy Siegel, R.D., co-founders of Nutrition

Vegan Lentil & Eggplant Chili Mole

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Cocoa isn't only good in desserts, it also brings out the fruity undertones in this chili and adds a pleasant smokiness, says Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast & Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. The eggplant in her chili, which she likes to serve with fresh corn, over rice, or with a baked sweet potato, appears to protect your heart and lower cholesterol.

Serves: 6

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried green lentils, washed
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 pounds eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons agave nectar or pure maple syrup
Fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat a four-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add oil, onion, and bell pepper and sauté until translucent about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and sauté for another minute, using nonstick cooking spray or a splash of water if veggies are sticking to the pan.
2. Mix in chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Add cocoa powder and 1 cup broth and cook for about 1 more minute, stirring to dissolve cocoa. Add lentils, remaining broth, tomatoes, and eggplant. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, keeping a close eye on it. Once it's boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, until lentils are tender and eggplant is soft. Mix in agave, then taste for salt and seasoning.
3. Let chili sit for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor, then serve garnished with cilantro, if you like.

Nutrition score per serving: 220 calories, 2g fat (0g saturated), 39 g carbs, 13g protein, 18g fiber, 10g sugars

Recipe reprinted courtesy of Da Calo Lifelong Books.

Sun-Dried Tomato Chili

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This delectable blend of produce and beans offers 24 percent of your daily recommended intake of iron, a key mineral for building muscle, in each serving. And while you know tomatoes provide cancer-fighting lycopene, sun-dried tomatoes have three times the lycopene of fresh and it's almost twice as bioavailable, a 2007 study found, so your body absorbs it more efficiently.

Serves: 12

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3 cups diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium zucchini, chopped

2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups water

3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Blend sun-dried tomatoes and 1/2 cup diced tomatoes until smooth, then set aside. In a large pot, heat olive oil over high heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in jalapeño, celery, peppers, and zucchini and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add blended tomatoes, remaining diced tomatoes, beans, and water. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.

Nutrition score per serving: 224 calories, 2g fat (<1g saturated), 40g carbs, 13g protein, 0g fiber, 5 g sugars

Recipe provided by Anna Forkan and Kristen Overlock of Revitalive.

Slow Cooker Vegan BlackBean Chili

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Dinner doesn't get any easier than tossing ingredients into a crockpot before you head out the door in the morning and coming home to a meal that's already ready. The cilantro in this dish provides vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting.

Serves: 4

2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes*
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 green onions, chopped
1 red onion, diced
1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Optional garnishes:
Dairy-free sour cream (Prince likes Better than Sour Cream)
Fresh cilantro
Green onion, diced
Tomato, diced

Place all ingredients in crock pot or slow cooker and cook for 2 to 3 hours on high or 4 to 5 hours on low. Garnish as desired before serving.
*If you like spicy chili, use diced tomatoes with green chilies and eliminate or reduce the chili powder.

Nutrition score per serving: 277 calories, 1.5g fat (0.5g saturated), 53 carbs, 17g protein, 17.5g fiber, 6g sugars

Recipe provided by Amanda Prince of


Spicy Sausage Chili

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This caliente recipe is sure to heat you up, but you can also use mild turkey sausage if you prefer lower-alarm chili. While 95% lean ground beef is a healthy choice, the ground sirloin used here trumps it with even less fat and saturated fat and more protein.

Serves: 8

6 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 fresh bay leaves
1 1/4 cup merlot (or other fruity red wine)
5 to 6 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp white cheddar

Heat a large Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage and add to pot with onion, bell pepper, garlic, sirloin, and jalapeño. Cook 8 minutes or until sausage and beef are browned, stirring to crumble. Add chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, tomato paste, oregano, pepper, salt, and bay leaves and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, tomatoes, and kidney beans and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves and sprinkle each serving with cheddar cheese.

Nutrition score per serving: 244 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated), 18g carbs, 22g protein, 4g fiber

Recipe provided by Chef Julieta Ballesteros of China Latina in New York City.

Multi-Bean Chili

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Anyone who thinks you need meat for a stick-to-your-ribs (but not your belly), high-protein meal needs to try this vegan chili. A blend of legumes makes for a variety of tastes and textures, plus protein and fiber to keep you full for hours. It's also great the next day and freezes well, says Jackie Keller, executive chef for NutriFit.

Serves: 8

Olive oil cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup diced chilies (optional)
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup uncooked lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 teaspoon chili powder
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Spray a large pot with olive oil cooking spray and bring to medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes covered (longer cooking time yields more flavorful results). Check for seasoning and add more chili powder or cayenne pepper to taste.

Nutrition score per serving: 374 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated), 69g carbs, 25g protein, 13.5g fiber


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