Here is the ultimate guide of the best beans for chili. A hot bowl of chili is awesome comfort food. Because it’s so diverse and flavorful, you can change your chili recipe to suit just about any palate. You can use pretty much any type of meat, and pretty much any variety of beans, with your preference of seasonings.
However, like any old-school home-style meal, there are particular ways of making chili considered better than others. You can use leaner meats, but be aware that the lower fat content will change the chili’s flavor. Likewise, changing your choice of seasoning will affect the flavor profile, as will altering your choice and ratios of veggies.
One underrated aspect of chili is the beans! Picking the right beans can take your chili from just OK to absolutely amazing. Traditionally, pinto beans are the best for chili, but black beans and red kidney beans are also great. In fact, we recommend a blend of these three types of beans for the best results.
Let’s take a look at the best ways to prepare chili, some handy tips and tricks, and the best beans for making chili.
The Ultimate Guide to Chili
Depending on what you and your family like, you can make your chili spicy, sweet, mild, meaty, or veggie-heavy. As long as you taste it as you go along, your chili can turn out any way you like.
Of course, many families love chili not just for one dinner, but for leftovers, too. Have you tried serving chili on top of corn chips for homemade nachos, or topping it with sour cream, cheese, or both?
In some parts of the Midwest, where sweet and savory are not necessarily mutually exclusive, chili and cinnamon rolls is a popular dish.
How to Make Chili
There are many recipes for chili, often varying widely from one region to the next. Some families closely guard their chili recipes over generations! The recipe below focuses on a classic meat-and-beans chili with plenty of vegetables. You don’t have to use the beans as described in the recipe, and you can use as much or as little spice as you like.
Use this recipe as a general guide to chili, and tweak it as you see fit. Remember, It’s best to stick to the recipe the first time you make chili and then make changes next time.
Conveniently, everything goes in the same pot.
- First, you need extra virgin olive oil. Dice some onions. You’ll want ground meat, preferably beef, and pinto, black, and red kidney beans. For flavor, use cumin, chili powder, sugar, garlic, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. To give this chili its stew-like quality, we’re using beef broth, diced tomatoes, and a tomato sauce or passata.
- Saute your onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat for five minutes.
- Add your ground beef, stirring to break it apart, until browned. This should take about five to seven minutes.
- Add spices and tomato paste, stirring well.
- Still stirring, add your broth, drained beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
- Simmer for 30 minutes.
If you like spicy chili, add salsa, jalapenos, or habanero peppers to the mixture. The later you add your spice, the hotter your sauce will be.
You can remove the cayenne pepper to make your chili milder.
How To Use Chili
You can use your chili as a topping or mix it with something else. Leftover chili in particular is great with a variety of options!
Try the below:
- Loaded fries or baked potato
- Stuffed peppers
- Mac and cheese with chili
- Hot dogs with chili
These are just a few of the many ways you can enjoy chili. Try and come up with some of your own.
Best Beans for Chili
There are many types of beans, most of which are great for chili. You might encounter pinto, fava, navy, kidney, and green beans.
The best beans for chili, however, are pinto, kidney, and black beans. You can use other types of beans in chili, but think about what you like in yours. Most people wouldn’t put green beans or chickpeas in their chili, for example.
Generally, cooks use pinto beans for making chili. Kidney beans, with their firm texture and earthy flavor, are also popular. As previously stated, we highly recommend using a combination of pinto, black, and red kidney beans.
1.Goya Pinto Beans
This two-pound bag of dried beans will require you to cook and prepare them before using them in your chili, but it’s so worth it! They’re delicious.
Beans are cheap to buy, particularly in larger quantities. You can, of course, use your masses of pinto beans for chili, but also for refried beans or burritos. You could even make bean soup.
The beans are clean in the bag, and you can use a slow-cooker or instant pot if you want to avoid the time-consuming soaking procedure.
2.Bush’s Best Canned Pinto Beans
Canned beans are quicker and easier to use than dried, but they are high in sodium.
Using canned beans saves heaps of time in the kitchen. No washing, cooking, or soaking required!
The link above leads to a three-pack of beans, so you can make chili en masse. They do come in canned bean water to preserve the beans.
3.Fillo’s Tex Mex Pinto Beans
These beans are pricier than the others on our list, but they are nicely packaged and relatively healthy.
The package contains two servings of pre-prepared beans, weighing about ten ounces.
You can order six-packs of these beans, which is very convenient if you’re cooking for a whole family.
You can microwave these little packets for other uses, too. You won’t be limited just to chili, that’s for sure.
The beans come seasoned with “Tex-Mex” flavor, which will permeate your chili. Cooks who aren’t worried about tightly controlling their food’s flavor profile won’t mind this, however.
As you’d hope from beans, these are vegan-friendly. They’re also non-GMO, and made in the USA.
4.Iberia Black Beans
These black beans boast a bolder flavor than the pinto beans, which makes them great for chili.
Because of this deeper flavor, black beans work best in chili when mixed with other beans, like pinto or red kidney beans.
It’s rare, although not unheard of, to use black beans alone for a chili.
You can season black beans and use them as a side dish if you like, as in many Mexican households and restaurants.
The link above will lead you to a whopping four-pound bag, and you’ll need to soak and prepare these dried beans. It’s great bang for your buck, and the dried beans will last in your pantry for a long time.
5.Jack’s Organic Kidney Beans
These red kidney beans are the second most popular type to use for chili, as we stated above.
Kidney beans are packed with vitamins, they’re easy to work with in the kitchen, and they taste great!
These are lower in sodium than many pre-prepared beans, and are non-GMO. You can even get these in eight-packs.
These come in boxes, not cans, in a similar quantity to what you’d expect from canned beans. Try red kidney beans for your next pot of chili.
Can’t You Use Chili Beans?
You’ve probably seen “chili beans” in the Mexican aisle at your supermarket. While these are perfectly fine to use for chili, the term “chili beans” is a bit of a misnomer. Usually, these are just pre-seasoned pinto or kidney beans.
So-called “chili beans” aren’t necessarily beans for chili, but beans soaked in a chili sauce. You can use these if you want, but the canned sauce will be high in sodium and will affect the flavor of your awesome homemade pot of chili.
We hope you enjoyed this guide to beans for chili.
Remember that pinto and kidney beans are the most popular for a reason. Their flavor and texture are great for chili, although black beans can add a lot too.
Use chili beans if you want, but be aware that these high-sodium beans have their own flavor that will affect your chili’s end result.
Check out these common chili conundrums!
Are Canned Beans High in Sodium?
Canned beans generally have more sodium than fresh beans. However, many brands have low-sodium options available.
You can drain and rise canned beans, which will reduce their sodium content.
Do Canned Beans Cause Gas?
Yes! Gassiness is a well known side effect of eating beans as they are high in fiber. Soaking dried beans will reduce this effect but not neutralize it.