If you’ve got a keto crew coming over for the big game, you need to know the ins and outs of keto chili.
What’s the best keto chili recipe? That depends on your personal taste (as is the case with chili in general). But whatever your particular palate, making delicious keto chili is easy, and that’s a good thing—because chili is always fantastic, obviously, but also, the rampant popularity of the ketogenic diet shows no signs of abating any time soon.
Witness the proliferation of MCT oils on the market, the popularity of Bulletproof coffee, and the existence of keto fast food options when you’re out and about. Strict keto diet adherence is still easiest when you make your own keto-compliant food at home, and there’s definitely a bit of a learning curve, but it’s not that hard to make satisfying keto meals with the right prepping and planning.
Take the aforementioned chili, for example—the perfect centerpiece of a keto tailgating menu or any fall get-together, or just the thing for a comforting weekend dinner. Follow a few simple guidelines and you can whip up a pot of keto chili that everyone will love (well, maybe not vegetarians—though there are a couple vegan keto chili recipes below too).
Here’s how to make the best keto chili:
Use Plenty of Meat
While the keto diet isn’t an excuse to eat mountains of meat with total abandon, it does allow for high meat consumption, and high-fat meat consumption too. So skip the super-lean ground beef and load up your pot with fattier ground blends and/or well-marbled cuts like rib eye. A mix of ground meat and firmer, bite-size pieces makes for a more interesting texture. (That said, there really are meatless keto options too; more on those later.)
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Say Bye-Bye to Beans
If you’re already a Texan, or an otherwise devout member of the church of chili con carne, making keto chili won’t be too much of an issue for you, but if you love chili with meat and beans, you’ll have to make some big adjustments—namely, you’ll have to cut out the beans, which are high-carb. If you can’t bear to do it, you can substitute soy beans, which provide valuable texture, flavor, and nutrients but only one net gram of carbs per serving (not that you’re only going to eat one serving).
Eden Organic Black Soy Beans, 6 cans for $21.25 on Amazon
Can't quit beans? Stock your pantry with these low-carb alternatives.
Watch Out for Hidden Sugar
Lots of processed foods include a high amount of sugar (plus plenty of other things you don’t need), so beware cans of tomato sauce. Tomato paste is slightly better, and generally acceptable in keto chili recipes since you use a fairly small amount of it in relation to the total volume of other ingredients. And canned tomatoes in their juice are commonly called for, but make sure there is no added sugar in them.
Feel Free to Top It Off
But Skip the Chips
Yes, chili is fantastic with corn chips and tortilla chips, but you’ll have to skip them if you’re keeping keto. If you’re really craving that crunchy finish, though, try some pork rinds. They’re basically just fat, protein, and salt (as always, be sure to check your labels). Alternatively, you can make keto cheese crisps for a little crunch.
Utz Pork Rinds, $7.50 at Walmart
Pork rinds are keto-approved substitutes for tortilla chips, breadcrumbs, and even pizza crust.
Best Keto Chili Recipes
Ready to get cooking? Check out some of these easy and delicious keto chili recipes.
This keto chili does call for beer—low-carb and/or gluten-free beer, of course—plus brewed coffee for a little secret ingredient kick. The flavor gets further complexity from lightly caramelizing the onions and browning the ground beef well. Get the Paleo Keto Chili recipe.
This keto chili uses both ground beef and chunks of stew meat for great texture and extra beefy flavor. (You could also try adding crumbled sausage in place of ground beef.) Get the Low-Carb Chili con Carne recipe.
This keto chili is totally tomato-free, but it does contain some surprising ingredients in addition to the usual ground beef, onion, and garlic—like diced radish, pumpkin puree, a little garam masala, and even avocado oil mayo to enrich the bone broth. Maybe not one for traditionalists, but what if you just called it soup? Get the Creamy Pumpkin Keto Chili recipe.
While keto does usually mean meat, vegetarian and even vegan keto adherents do exist! Walnuts are heart healthy and said to help kick cravings, but they also mimic the texture of ground beef surprisingly well when finely chopped. This vegan keto chili is truly satisfying. Get the Vegan Keto Walnut Chili recipe.
Another tomato-free keto chili, this white version relies on chicken, cream, and cream cheese—it’s a rich, comforting bowl with a kick from cumin and green chiles. And best of all, it can also be made in the slow cooker. Get the Keto White Chicken Chili recipe.
Header image by Chowhound.