Chili Recipes That Are High in Protein

Chili is the classic example of comfort cuisine, and if you haven’t made your first batch yet, it’s time to get cooking. The warming dish can be made in one’s crock or stock pot, and customized to fit any individual’s appetite. Vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike can all enjoy chili, and we’re showcasing six chili recipes found around the web today that emphasize that. Some of these food formulas call for beans, while others call for meat. Some star tomatoes, some star chickpeas. Though they’re all different, they’re all delicious in their own right. Even better, they’re all hearty and nutritious.

1. Classic Chili Recipe

chili topped with cheese

Classic chili | iStock.com

First up is a recipe for your favorite classic chili dish from Taste of Home. While some chili dishes get mastered in the crockpot, the ingredients for this recipe simply get loaded in a large Dutch oven to simmer for 1½ hours. It couldn’t be easier to get this dinner on the table, and the dish couldn’t be more delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds ground turkey or beef
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Directions: In a Dutch oven or large soup kettle, sauté green pepper, onions, and celery in oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until browned; drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1-½ hours, stirring occasionally. Add kidney beans. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes longer.

2. White Chicken Chili

white chicken chili topped with sour cream

White chicken chili | iStock.com

If you prefer chicken over beef, try this white chicken chili recipe from Add a PinchIt’s a crowd favorite, and a delicious twist on the traditional chili recipe. A handful of spices complement the chicken and white beans perfectly in this food formula, and the dish can come together in just 35 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, with liquids from beans
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilis, with liquids from chilis
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

Directions: Add chicken to a 4-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot. Add chicken stock and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Let chicken cool briefly, then use two forks to shred it. Add back to liquid along with garlic, onion, white beans, chiles, dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and fresh oregano. Stir to combine. Taste for flavor and adjust to your preference. Simmer over low heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve right away.

3. Three-Bean Chili

chili with beans

Three-bean chili | iStock.com

Care to go the vegetarian route? If so, take this three-bean chili recipe from Cooking Light for a spin. You’ll certainly meet your protein quota for the day thanks to the garbanzo, kidney, and black beans enlisted in this recipe, and they pair uniquely with a handful of spices that will make you forget all about your meat. If you’re looking for a healthy yet hearty dinner recipe for your family, this dish is the ticket. Get your beans and get going.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup pre-chopped onion
  • ½ cup pre-chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (15 ½-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ½-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ½-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 ½-ounce) can organic vegetable broth
  • 1 (14 ½-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

Directions: Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in ¾ cup water and next 9 ingredients (through diced tomatoes); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro. Serve with sour cream.

4. Black Bean Chili With Butternut Squash

chili topped with cheese and sour cream

Black bean chili | iStock.com

Black beans are also enlisted in this chili recipe from Bon Appétitbut this time, they’re paired with butternut squash to yield a protein-packed dinner that is devoid of meat. This black bean chili with butternut squash dish will take about 3 hours to cook (with 2 hours simmering time), but it can easily be made up to 2 days ahead of time, which allows the flavors to marinate and sometimes taste even better. This sophisticated chili recipe will certainly warm you up on even the chilliest night, and it’ll remind you that some of the best chili recipes don’t require meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed
  • 2 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1 2 ¼-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup quick-cooking bulgur
  • Sour cream
  • Coarsely grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese
  • Diced red onion
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pickled jalapeño rings

Directions: Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Sprinkle chili powder and coriander over; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with juice, beans, chipotles, and oregano. Add 10 cups water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until beans are tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Chili can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm chili before continuing.

Stir squash and bulgur into chili. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until squash and bulgur are tender, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Southwestern Beef Chili with Corn

chili with beans and corn

Beef chili with corn | iStock.com

This next recipe lends a southwestern kick to traditional chili, and we’re back to the beef with this one. Southwestern beef chili with corn from Real Simple is a fun spin on chili that enlists many of our favorite hearty flavors, and still only takes 30 minutes to make. Calling for veggies, corn, spices, and ground beef, this quick dinner is the perfect thing to have on the table for busy weeknights, and it is also a great recipe to serve to a crowd for Sunday supper.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano or bell pepper
  • Chopped ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • ½ cup grated Cheddar
  • 2 scallions, sliced

Directions: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and poblano and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it is slightly darkened, 1 minute. Stir in the beans, chili powder, 3 cups water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the corn. Divide the chili among bowls and top with the Cheddar and scallions.

6. Tofu Chili

tofu

Tofu | iStock.com

Last but not least: Tofu chili. Contrary to popular belief, this recipe is not a vegetarian’s dream and a carnivore’s nightmare. Everyone can get on the tofu chili train with this simple formula from Whole Foods that will make a convert out of any carnivore. Whole Foods explains that similar to chicken and beef, tofu absorbs the hearty flavors of chili perfectly, and it performs up to snuff as a viable protein substitute. Next time you’re cooking for a vegetarian friend, or just want to go meat-free for a night, try this dish and prepare to be surprised with just how well tofu tangos with the rest of chili’s staple ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1½ cup gluten-free vegetable broth or water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt or gluten-free tamari, to taste

Directions: Arrange tofu on a large plate lined with 3 or 4 paper towels and top with more paper towels. Press firmly to release as much water as possible from the tofu. Discard paper towels, crumble tofu and set aside.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add pepper, onion, jalapeño and corn and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth, beans, crumbled tofu, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin and salt or tamari and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered or partially covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and flavors have melded, about 45 minutes. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.