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What is Authentic Chili?

Updated on March 8, 2017

Hottest Controversy in the Food World

What is authentic chili? Down South, people say it's made with "real" chunks of meat and absolutely no beans. Others say chili is made with ground meat and lots of beans. They argue about the type of bean to use.

Some spell it "chili." Others, "chile," or "chilli." Hot or mild, soupy or thick, chili powder or chili peppers, the debate goes on.

I do not know what the "real" chili is. I don't even know if these recipes will appeal to everyone. I will say that my family "taste testers" liked them.

The first recipe is a Midwestern-style chili made with ground meat, canned pinto beans and chili powder. You will need a slice of bread and a pitcher of ice water for this one!

He-Man Chili

1 pound ground beef

1 pound hot bulk pork sausage

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

2 cans (1 lb. each) tomatoes

2 cans (15 1/2 oz. each) pinto beans

1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth

4 Tablespoons chili powder

1 Tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook ground beef, sausage, garlic and onion in Dutch oven or stock pot until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Stir in tomatoes, beans, beef stock, chili powder, cumin salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, 30-45 minutes or until thickness desired. Makes 8--10 servings.

He-Man Chili

You can serve these Mexican Corn Muffins alongside. They contain creamed corn, Cheddar cheese and chopped green chilies. They are also zesty!

Mexican Corn Muffins

1 cup flour

1 cup yellow corn meal

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 beaten egg

1 can or 1 cup cream-style corn

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 can (4 oz size) chopped green chilies, well drained.

Combine flour corn meal, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center. Combine egg, corn, milk and oil. Pour into dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Pour half of batter into well-greased muffin cups. Sprinkle cheese and chilies on top. Cover with remaining batter. Bake at 425 degrees F 20-25 minutes or until golden. Makes 10-12 muffins.

Cincinnati Chili

This is a recipe from the Skyline Chili restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a fair amount of work and thus it is recommended that only the best ingredients be used.

Cincinnati Chili

2 lbs ground sirloin beef (Get the best and leanest)

1-16 oz can Hunts tomato sauce

1-12 oz can Hunts whole tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder (to make it hotter, substitute with 1/2 Tablespoon cayenne pepper)

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

4-5 bay leaves

4-5 dry chili peppers

1 large onion, cut in medium pieces (no smaller than 1/2 inch square)

Start cooking by browning the meat in a fairly large coverable pot. Cook the onions with the meat. Drain.

Add tomato sauce and whole tomatoes. Do not break up the tomatoes. Let them cook down naturally. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir completely. Cook over a low heat (just a low boil) for 4 1/2 hours. At the end of that time, the tomatoes should be cooked down. Remove the bay leaves, but leave the red peppers in. Stir on a regular basis.

People have tried to speed things up by using a crock pot, but the results were not very good. It takes time.....

Serving Variations:

May be served 5 different ways.

1. Plain

2. 2-Way.....Chili over thin spaghetti

3. 3-Way.....Chili over thin spaghetti and chopped fresh onions

4. 4-Way.....Chili over thin spaghetti, chopped onions and grated cheese

5. 5-Way.....Chili over thin spaghetti, chopped onions, grated cheese and kidney beans


This is my own recipe that takes about an hour.

Chili Con Carne (with beans)

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup green pepper

1/2 cup onion

2 cups canned diced tomatoes

1-10 1/2 oz. can tomato soup

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 bay leaf

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 clove garlic or pinch garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 16-oz. can red kidney beans, undrained.

Brown ground beef, green pepper and onion together.

Add tomatoes, soup, spices and  beans. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer one hour. Add water, if needed.

I do not know if this is really chili but it came from Aunt Josie in Indiana.

Taco Chili

2 lbs ground beef

1 small onion

3 cans (4 oz each) chopped green chilies

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 can (16 oz) lima beans, rinsed and drained

1 package taco seasoning

1 1/2 cups water

1 package ranch dressing mix

1 can hominy, drained

3 cans (14 1/2 oz) stewed tomatoes

1 can (15-16 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

shredded cheddar cheese, optional

tortilla chips, optional

There are no instructions, so I brown the meat and onions together, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer, at least one hour on low heat. This is delicious!


This recipe was sent to me from my friend, Marie, in New Jersey. My father always liked his chili with macaroni in it. (Chili-Mac) Here's one with rice.

Black Bean Chili with Brown Rice

2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package directions

1 lb. ground beef or turkey

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon chili pepper

cayenne pepper to taste

garlic powder to taste

1 can stewed tomatoes

2 cans black beans, undrained

Brown beef or turkey. Add red pepper, onion, chili pepper, spices until onion is transparent. Add tomatoes and beans. Mix together with cooked rice and heat through.

What is authentic chili to you?

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    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Rob, try it, you'll like it. You were raised in the midwest.

      Good comments, nifty@50. I tend to agree with you!

    • nifty@50 profile image

      nifty@50 7 years ago

      For me real chili must have meat(beef or chicken or pork) and beans(I prefer red kidney beans). Plain meat chili is good for hot dogs! I like chili with cheese or Velveeta, or over rice. Great hub!

    • Rob Dee profile image

      Rob Dee 7 years ago from Florida

      Not sure about midwestern chili....

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Rm, sure! Good idea! Thanks.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      I'm with the pinto bean crowd. Never liked the toughness of the kidney bean skin.

      I think this hub is definitely a good match to link on my Veg Soup hub. Okay with that?

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Chocolate? Who would have thunk it? Thanks, Larry for your nice comments. I hope you enjoy many more recipes!

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 8 years ago from Northern Arizona

      Heck, I don't have to plan next days meals anymore..I'll just go to your latest Hub and there it is !! Everything I've tried from your Hubs have turned out just great...I love to cook, and your Hubs are really letting me expand my horizons...Thanks so much..

      My fav chili is chunked steak with small red beans ( and my secret ingredient is chocolate )...Larry