Beans in chili is a hot topic, depending on who you ask. But if you decide to include them, what are the best beans for chili? Let’s look at a few types of beans to discover the best beans for your chili recipe.
What are Chili Beans?
Beans are a type of legume and a staple in many cultures. Beans grow in pods and are available in different shapes, sizes, and colors. The most common types of beans are black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and Lima beans.
Use beans, such as chickpeas, edamame, and butter beans, and make creamy hummus. Speaking of, try my butter bean hummus with air fryer pita chips. Many casserole recipes include beans. And although it’s controversial (I am looking at you, Texas), beans have a place in chili.
What are the Best Beans for Chili?
When making a delicious pot of chili, the type of beans you use can enhance the flavor and nutrition of the dish. Classic options like pinto, kidney, and black beans are popular for a good reason. But also consider cannellini, great northern, chickpeas, or a combination of several beans. With so many excellent beans to choose from, let us help you decide what’s the best bean for chili.
1. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are one of the most common and best beans for chili. In fact, they are sometimes labeled ‘chili beans’ in mainstream grocery stores, so you can’t go wrong using them in your chili recipes.
How to Use Kidney Beans for Chili
2. Black Beans
Black beans have a rich, earthy flavor making them perfect for chili. They are high in protein, so they’re ideal for vegetarian chilies and the perfect complement to hearty beef chili.
How to Use Black Beans for Chili
3. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are the most popular bean for chili, and because of their mild flavor, creaminess, and tenderness as they simmer, it makes sense!
And since it can be hard to decide between black beans and pinto beans, check out this article comparing black beans vs. pinto beans.
How to Use Pinto Beans for Chili
4. White Beans
White beans have a mild flavor and a creamy texture that’s perfect for chili, especially if your chosen protein is chicken or something other than beef. I use them in my leftover turkey white chili, and it’s delicious. White beans come in three varieties, and Cannellini, Northern beans, and navy beans are often used interchangeably in chili.
How to Use White Beans for Chili
5. Garbanzo Beans
Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are a great addition to chili, and since they’re a good source of protein and fiber, they bulk up the chili to make it more filling.
How to Use Garbanzo Beans for Chili
6. Black Eyed Peas
Despite the name, black-eyed peas are beans with a creamy, smooth texture once cooked. They are slightly sweet, making them a perfect complement to the other ingredients featured in chili.
How to Use Black Eyed Peas for Chili
How to Prepare Beans for Chili
- Rinse canned and dry beans under cold water and pick out debris before using them in a recipe.
- Soak the dry beans in water overnight to reduce the cooking time and ensure they become tender.
- Drain the soaked beans and rinse them before cooking.
- Place dry beans in a stockpot and cover them with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 1-2 hours or until they are tender.
- Add the cooked or canned beans to the chili and stir to combine. Let the pot simmer until the ingredients have time to incorporate.
How to Use Chili
Serve a warm, cozy bowl of chili as a main dish alongside buttery cornbread, corn casserole, rice, pasta, or crusty bread. But there are many other ways to enjoy chili. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Topping: Pour homemade chili over baked potatoes, french fries, or hot dogs to make chili dogs. You can also grab your favorite bag of chips to make walking nachos.
- Filling: Use chili as a filling for chili and rice casserole, chili spaghetti squash casserole, chili and tater tot casserole, Frito chili pie, and chili cornbread casserole.
- Sauce: Thin the chili with broth or water and use it as a sauce for vegetables or pasta.
- Dip: Warm chili and serve it as a dip with tortilla chips or crackers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of beans go in chili?
The best beans for chili highly depend on personal preference and regional variations. Common beans used in chili include kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans. Some recipes may also include navy beans, cannellini beans, or chickpeas.
What are the best canned beans for chili?
Save time in the kitchen by using canned beans. Canned beans tend to have a softer texture than dry beans, so if you prefer your beans to be firm, consider using cooked dry beans or canned kidney beans since they retain their structure more than other varieties. For smooth and creamy chili, I recommend canned pinto or black beans.
What’s the best bean to meat ratio?
Ultimately, the best bean-to-meat ratio for chili is a matter of personal preference- feel free to experiment and find what you like. I use one 14-ounce can of beans for every pound of meat or vegetables.