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15 Different Types of Chili

A photo collage of different types of Chilli.

From the rising popularity of chili bars to chili cook-offs that have been happening across America and throughout the world for years, there are many different versions of the popular dish.

Chili peppers were originally found in Mexico and many cultivators of the chili pepper began to ship it all over the world for use in both food and medicines. Bowls of chili became very popular and were prepared in various locations, such as northern Mexico and southern Texas, but soon different versions of the dish popped up all over the world.

I have entered many chili cook-offs in my day and every time, I use my mom’s recipe. She creates the original Chile Con Carne using ground beef, kidney beans, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, and plenty of onions, and she adds green peppers and hot sausage.

This winning combo has garnered me many prizes over the years by sticking to my mom’s recipe, but I’ve also tried out various versions of chili there are also super delicious.

My dad is a Greek immigrant and my mom is from Virginia but my mom has learned how to cook Greek foods over the years just as well as my dad’s mom and his sisters. I remember when I was growing up, at some point, my parents were in Cincinnati and had Skyline Chili for dinner.

They both loved it so my mom found a recipe for it and started making it at home. I have always been a huge fan of spaghetti so this particular type of chili was right up my alley. I tend to think that her version is better than the ones that you can buy at the restaurants that have popped up all over America but I may be a little biased.

I prefer mine without the beans but definitely top it with plenty of cheese and onions. This chili recipe is definitely one of my top favorites. There is even an International Chili Society that cattle drivers in the Southwest created years ago and propelled it into popularity.

The women who participated in making the chili have become known as Chili Queens and the group dates back to at least the 1880s. The world’s first chili championship was sponsored by the International Chili Society in 1967, and it was held in Terlingua, Texas.

Here is a list of just some of the many versions of chili, along with many details about the ingredients that are used for each type and even where some of them originated. Many are even specific to their location. No matter how you like your chili prepared, it is a delicious option for lunch or supper for millions of people every day across the world.

1. Chili Con Carne

This is a close look at a hearty bowl of chili corn carne.

The name of Chili con carne means “chili with meat” and is the original spicy stew made with meat, usually beef, along with chili peppers, kidney beans , or other types of beans, and tomatoes or tomato sauce. Seasonings used in chili con carne usually are garlic, onions, cumin, and chili powder.

This type of chili is the original version that originated in northern Mexico and southern Texas decades ago. It is the most popular version of all chili dishes and can be made with dark red kidney beans or light red kidney beans. Some people even use Pinto beans or other types of beans to make their chili.

When it comes to chili suppers and chili cook-offs, this is the most popular version that people bring to the table. And the best thing about this chili? It normally tastes better the day after you cook it, and it has been in the refrigerator overnight which makes it a great option for leftovers.

It can be eaten over rice or macaroni and some people like to add crackers or a dollop of sour cream along with shredded cheddar cheese and chili powder to dress it up even more.

Chili con carne is an easy dish to make, and you can jazz it up to suit your taste buds. You can use any type of beef you want, from ground beef to chunks of sirloin steak, and the number of spices and peppers you add to it is totally up to you.

You can use tomato juice, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, or even beef broth for your base and add onions if you want to and whatever type of beans that you choose to use.

Chili con carne is also a healthy dish since it’s packed with plenty of protein and fiber and can be enjoyed with very little guilt even if you’re on a low-carb diet. You can even opt to use leaner meats, such as chicken or turkey.

2. Texas Red Chili

A hearty bowl of Texas red chili.

The Texas version of chili con carne is referred to as Texas red and was invented many years ago in San Antonio, Texas. It consists of beef that is cooked in a very spicy cumin-spiked sauce with red chile peppers which make it a beautiful red color. Texans take their chili very seriously and are very much anti-bean.

The Texas legislator even made chili the state dish in 1977. The text of the resolution actually reads, “One cannot be a true son or daughter of this state without having his taste buds tingle at the thought of the treat that is real, honest-to-goodness, unadulterated Texas chili.”

The popular saying in Texas when it comes to chili is this: “If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans.”

So, basically in Texas when it comes to Texas red chili it cannot have any fillers in it including beans. Their chili con carne only consists of meat and chile peppers which are in line with the Spanish meaning of chili con carne which means chili with meat.

3. Springfield “Chilli”

When you are in the state of Illinois, chili is spelled with two l’s, chili. Some of the theories on the origins of this spelling include that a sign painter created the sign for one of the state’s original chili restaurants wanted the word to mimic the spelling of the state’s name of Illinois.

Another theory is that Joe DeFrates, the only man to ever win both the National and World Chili Championships, first started serving his version of chili in the state’s capital city of Springfield.

His version was made of tender ground beef, Hunt’s canned tomato sauce, a dash of Tabasco sauce, and his secret spice mix that included chili powder. People who live in Illinois take their version of chili as seriously as the people who live in Texas do and the Illinois House and Senate passed a joint resolution in 1993 proclaiming Illinois as the Chilli Capital of the World.

The Illinois General Assembly also declared the city of Taylorville, which is home to a lot of chili cook-offs, as the chili capital of Illinois in 2016. Springfield Chilli consists of ground beef and all of the normal chili fixings along with a can of Budweiser beer and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

4. Cincinnati-Style Chili

A Cincinnati-Style Chili spaghetti with cheese and onion.

Cincinnati-style chili is also known as Skyline Chili and is most often served over top of a bed of spaghetti and topped with bright yellow shredded cheddar cheese and onions. This chili did not actually originate in Cincinnati, Ohio, but rather in Greece and then New York City.

It started with Greek-Macedonian immigrant brothers John and Tom Kiradjieff. When the brothers came to Cincinnati towards the beginning of the 20th century, they began selling Coney dogs and hot dogs with their own style of spiced meat sauce.

The brothers added ingredients over time, including paprika and allspice with the distinctive combination of chocolate and cinnamon. While the stew also relied on cumin, beef, and some chili pepper, the brothers added ingredients that were more at home in a Mediterranean kitchen, like paprika and allspice, as well as the style’s distinctive combo of cinnamon and chocolate.

Their recipe has changed over time, and they started serving it on spaghetti in a taffy net with the bright yellow cheddar cheese. Skyline chili restaurants have popped up all over the United States and you order it by the numbers.

For example, if you order number one, you are getting just the chili but if you order a number two, you get chili and the spaghetti.

A number three will get you the chili, the spaghetti, and the cheese and if you go with the number four, you get the chili over the top of spaghetti topped with cheese and your choice of beans or onions. And, finally, a number five gets you all of it which means you’re getting the chili over the spaghetti topped with the cheese, onions, and beans.

The brothers also insisted on serving all versions of their skyline chili on oval-shaped plates, and you’re supposed to use a fork to cut the spaghetti, not twirl it. This type of chili has become a favorite among many people who have also learned how to create their own versions at home. It is probably the most different type of chili on our list, and it is very delicious.

5. Oklahoma-Style Chili

Very similar to Texas red chili, Oklahoma’s version of chili allows beans to be added. According to what the history of chili in Oklahoma says to us, most Oklahoma natives have never met a chili they didn’t like. They love both the Texas-style and the Cincinnati version along with plenty of Coney dogs dripping with Coney sauce.

Their version of chili is very similar to chili con carne because it contains both meat and beans along with onion, tomatoes, chili powder, and plenty of spices. Oklahoma’s residents love their chili topped with some sour cream and cheddar cheese and served with or without cornbread. It really just boils down to the fact that they love their chili.

6. Turkey Chili

A bowl of turkey chili with toppings.

Turkey chili is actually a spin on chili con carne, but it is made with lean ground turkey instead of lean ground beef. This version of chili con carne is becoming more and more popular as people try to eat healthier intake in less fat.

Replacing ground beef with turkey is a great option since, if you use the right spices and other ingredients, you really cannot tell much of a difference in taste.

7. Chile Verde

Chile Verde is different from other chilies on our list because the meat most often used in this chili dish is pork instead of beef. Tomatillos are used in the creation of the sauce along with fresh chili peppers and many spices, although not normally cumin.

New Mexico residents like to make their version of Chili Verde with hatch chile peppers. This gives their version of chile Verde a smoky flavor that comes from the roasted hatch Chiles which give the chili a touch of bitterness along with a welcome peppery sweet taste that other chili dishes lack.

This creates a green sauce that also includes melted fat from the pork. Some people also make this chili dish with chicken and add beans and pasta for a very hearty meal.

Many versions of this chili call for green chili peppers to be used along with an array of spices to make this a very tasty chili dish that many people enjoy.

8. White Chili

This is a look at a bowl of white chili on a wooden table.

White chili has a chili pepper base and contains meat but instead of beef, it is usually chicken or turkey that is used in this delicious chili dish. It’s similar to chili Verde in the fact that it starts with a base of fresh peppers, but then it takes its own path with the inclusion of white beans and is not normally served with melted shredded cheese on top. The white beans create a white base which is where this chili dish gets its name from.

9. Chili Dog

A close look at a couple of chili dogs on a hot plate.

When it comes to chili dogs many people make the chili different to put on top of the hot dog and then. You can take the easy route and buy canned chili that has specifically been created to use on chili dogs or Coney sauce, or you can make your own version.

Some people have even taken to adding coleslaw on top of the chili dog along with cheddar cheese and creating a whole new version of the chili dog.

Coney dogs became very popular when they were first introduced to the public, in the state of Michigan, and eventually made their way to New York City, where many Greek immigrants began to open up restaurants that featured Coney chili dogs.

10. Frito Pie Chili

This is a dish of homemade Frito PIe Mexican Casserole with Cheese and Beans.

This chili dish was created in the Midwest area of the United States and has become an American classic. Simply make a bowl of chili that consists of ground beef, tomato sauce, beans marinated in chili powder, and throw in some more seasonings.

You then pour your bowl of chili over the top of an opened bag of Frito chips, top it off with some shredded cheese and sour cream, and there you have it, Frito Pie Chili.

11. Cajun chili, Louisiana

Cajun chili is simply a bowl of chili done Cajun style. This means that tons of Cajun seasonings have been used along with a big splash of Louisiana hot sauce that makes this chilly delicious and unforgettable.

You may want to grab a piece of cornbread or more to go with your bowl of Cajun chili to soothe your scorched throat as you eat this delectable but very hot version of chili.

12. Carne Adovada

Carne adovada with hotplate on wooden board.

Carne adovada could be considered more a way of cooking rather than an actual chili dish. It consists of a red chili pepper-based sauce that is highlighted by oregano and cumin and is used to marinate and stew pork. It makes the pork very tender and tasty, and it can be served as a stew or even as a filling for foods like tacos, sopapillas, and burritos.

Carne Adovada is basically a New Mexico-style Pork dish with Red Chilies and may just have more uses with other foods than any of the other chilies on this list.

13. Vegetarian Chili

This is a set of three vegetarian chili bowls.

This version of chili became popular during the vegetarian craze of the 1960s and 1970s. Sometimes vegetables such as sweet potatoes are used in place of meat in this all vegetable chili dish.

All different types of chili bases are used to create vegetate vegetarian chili including fresh or dried chili bases there are many different recipes you can follow if you want to create your own chilling that can be made with an array of different veggies including different types of beans.

It is served just like regular chili, and you can top it off with sour cream and cheese or throw some crackers in it for different flavors.

14. Vegan Black Bean Chili

This is a bowl of vegan black bean chili.

Vegan black bean chili is similar to vegetarian chili, but it’s very focused on beans. Black beans are a great source of fiber in most people create this recipe with Hardy tomatoes tons of onions and plenty of spices.

15. Five Alarm Chili

This is a close look at a bowl of Texas five alarm chili with toppings.

Five alarm chili is the hottest version of chili on our list in more ways than one. This recipe uses at least five different types of peppers including Chili Peppers and Jalapeno Peppers. It usually contains meat, such as ground beef, ground turkey, or even chunks of sirloin steak, but the focus is definitely on the peppers that are used.

You can even use dried red chili peppers which are also known as Chipotle Peppers to create this delicious version of chili. Be advised, however, that you should definitely eat it with cornbread, crackers, or even Fritos to help diffuse the level of hotness on your throat.

In most recipes for five-alarm chili, two slices of bacon are used along with blue corn tortilla chips and Anaheim Peppers, jalapeño peppers, Poblano Peppers, two or three Chipotle Peppers, onion, a tube of tomato paste a can of diced tomatoes plenty of garlic and chili powder along with some white pepper a little bit of sugar some Apple cider vinegar and some crushed red Peppers period, of course, you’re going to want to throw in some cumin and some smoked paprika, and you want to use several different kinds of beans.

Along with oregano in Apple cider vinegar you can throw in a can of black beans a can of kidney beans and yet another can containing Pinto beans. Five-alarm chili tastes great served with sour cream, corn chips, cilantro, dried avocado, and shredded cheddar cheese. This makes a great chili for anyone who loves delicious chili with a kick.