Best Beans for Chili – Beans in chili is controversial, depending on who you ask. But since we’re talking about the best beans for chili, let’s look at each bean, and you can decide what to use in your next batch.
WHAT ARE CHILI BEANS?
Beans are a type of legume and a staple in many cultures. Beans grow in pods and are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some of the most common types of beans are black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and Lima beans. Add beans to salad (Piyaz), soup, stew (Beef and Chickpea Stew), hummus (Butter Bean Hummus), casseroles, and chili (of course).
NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF BEANS
Beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They also contain fiber, which helps promote digestive health and regulate blood sugar, and are packed with folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium to support a healthy diet.
BEST BEANS FOR CHILI
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 with them.
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.
Pinto beans are the most popular choice for chili, and because of their mild flavor and tenderness as they simmer, it makes sense!
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 (Leftover Turkey White Chili). White beans come in three varieties; cannellini, Northern beans, and navy beans are often used interchangeably in chili.
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.
Black Eyed Peas
Despite the name, black-eyed peas are beans with a creamy, smooth texture when cooked. They are slightly sweet and complement the spices and other ingredients featured in 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.
USES FOR CHILI
Serve chili as a main dish alongside cornbread, corn casserole, rice, pasta, or crusty bread. But there are many other ways to enjoy chili; here are a few of our favorites.
- Topping: Pour homemade chili over baked potatoes, french fries, or hot dogs to make Chili Dogs. You can also grab your favorite back of chips and 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 to use 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 types of 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?
Canned beans tend to have a softer texture than dry beans, so if you prefer them 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 tend to use one can (14 ounces) of beans for every pound of meat or vegetables.
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