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7 hearty and easy chili recipes top chefs and food bloggers love

Get out of your stew rut with these new chili ideas, including chicken chili, veggie chili, Instant Pot chili, slow-cooker chili — and even chili recipes with cocoa and quinoa.
Image: Chungah Rhee's Quinoa Chili
Chungah Rhee's Quinoa Chili is vegetarian and packed with filling protein. Courtesy of Chungah Rhee

Chili is one seriously popular dish: In 2018, "chili" was beaten only by "cake" in Google recipe searches in the United States. It's no wonder the stew is so popular — it's versatile, satisfying, makes great leftovers, and, with the right ingredients, it can be incredibly healthy.

But it's also easy to get stuck in a chili rut, making the same old beef or vegetarian version over and over. So we asked seven chefs and food bloggers, including Julia Turshen, Giada De Laurentiis, Martha Stewart, and Melissa Clark, to share their favorite chili recipes. Lucky for us — and you! — they delivered big time, offering up creative yet completely doable chili ideas. So if you've never thought of adding black-eyed peas or a dash of cocoa powder to your chili, now's the time, whether you're looking for the perfect chili for a party or you simply need a new idea for dinner tonight.

Sweet Potato Chili

Sweet Potato Chili
Giada De Laurentiis' Sweet Potato ChiliCourtesy of

"This chili is my favorite because it comes together in under an hour yet has all the flavor of a chili that has been slow simmered all day," says Giada De Laurentiis, who shared this beef, bean, and sweet potato chili recipe from her site Giadzy. "This is thanks to the three different chilies and an added layer of sweetness from nutritious sweet potatoes. Added bonus: It's rich in protein while only using half the amount of meat so it leaves you full but not needing a nap."

Chicken and Black-Eyed Pea Chili

Chicken and Black-Eyed Pea Chili
Julie Turshen's Chicken and Black-Eyed Pea ChiliPhoto: David Loftus

"This chili is the ultimate crowd-friendly, make-ahead dish when you have loved ones over," says Julia Turshen, the author of numerous cookbooks, including "Feed the Resistance", "Small Victories" and "Now & Again", as well as the founder of Equity at the Table. "I always make the chili the day before (it tastes even better that way) and then serve the toppings (sour cream, grated cheese, avocado and scallions) on the side so everyone can mix and match to their liking. I love using black-eyed peas because they're a little unexpected in chili, but their nutty flavor and creamy texture goes beautifully, plus they're a nod to the foodways of the South, which also inspired the cast-iron cornbread that I like to serve with the chili. But by all means use whatever type of bean you love and already have in your cupboard!"

Pressure-Cooker Pork and Pinto-Bean Chili

Pressure-Cooker Pork and Pinto-Bean Chili
Martha Stewart's Pressure-Cooker Pork and Pinto-Bean ChiliPhoto: Marcus Nilsson

“Broiler-charred poblano chiles and a liberal dose of cumin give this hearty stew a wonderful smokiness," says Martha Stewart, who shared this Instant Pot-ready chili recipe from her book "Martha Stewart's Pressure Cooker." Stewart adds, "Pork shoulder is an ideal cut for the pressure cooker — cubes are browned and braised for the chili base here. Serve with wedges of cornbread for a warming fall supper or the ultimate game-day entree.”

Quinoa Chili

Chungah Rhee's Quinoa Chili
Chungah Rhee's Quinoa ChiliChungah Rhee

"This is an all-time favorite, especially during the cold winter months," says the blogger behind Damn Delicious, Chungah Rhee, who shared this healthy recipe from her new cookbook "Damn Delicious Meal Prep." Rhee adds, "It's vegetarian, protein-packed, and the perfect bowl of comfort food that you can eat guilt-free! It's truly a win-win for all."

Easy Weeknight Pressure-Cooker Chili

Melissa Clark's Easy Weeknight Pressure-Cooker Chili
Melissa Clark's Easy Weeknight Pressure-Cooker ChiliChristopher Testani

When you have only 30 minutes to put together dinner yet still want something hearty, try this recipe from The New York Times contributor and cookbook author Melissa Clark. The recipe, from Clark's new pressure-cooker cookbook "Comfort in an Instant" calls for ground pork or beef — your choice! — plus pinto or kidney beans and easy to find spices, including chili powder and cumin. After a quick saute of the meat and vegetables, the pressure cooker completes the work of turning a few staples into an outstanding dinner.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili

Kelly Senyei's Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili
Kelly Senyei's Slow-Cooker Chicken ChiliKelly Senyei

"When it comes to a hearty meal-in-a-bowl, it doesn't get much better than chili," says Kelly Senyei, who shared this recipe from her popular blog Just a Taste. " I've lightened up this protein-packed comfort food by swapping beef for chicken and loading up on extra beans and plenty of spices (read: flavor, not fat). Tossing everything into the slow cooker takes the stress out of meal time and prevents those last-minute greasy takeout orders. Best of all, this chicken chili tastes just as great (if not better) on day two, so you'll be eating healthy all week long."

Cocoa-Spiced Bean and Lentil Chili

Nik Sharma's Cocoa-Spiced Bean and Lentil Chili
Nik Sharma's Cocoa-Spiced Bean and Lentil ChiliNIK SHARMA / Nik Sharma

Is it a soup, a stew or a chili? You won't care what it's called once you try this legume-filled dish, which gets a wonderful depth of flavor from cocoa powder. "It was during my years spent in grad school in Cincinnati that I first got introduced to chili," says Nik Sharma, a blogger, San Francisco Chronicle columnist and author of the cookbook "Season." He adds, "What made it special was their use of unsweetened cocoa, which helps to boost the savoriness of the dish." Sharma took inspiration from his Cincinnati chili experiences when developing this robust vegetarian stew, which is made with creamy lentils, split peas and beans. A garnish of fresh herbs and dollop of Greek yogurt brighten the flavors and makes this chili even more satisfying.


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