13 Regional Chili Recipes to Try This Fall

View Slideshow
Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Local Flavor

Chili first gained popularity along Texas cattle trails during the 1800s. Regional accents soon attached to the spicy stew, although certain ingredients remain standard to this day. Chili peppers, usually dried, add heat and spice to everything. Cumin and garlic are indispensable seasonings. Most chili recipes incorporate meat, some add beans, and others are strictly vegetarian. The point is: There's a chili recipe to suit every taste. Chili also makes inexpensive ingredients go a long way, making it a good choice for feeding a crowd. Here are 13 regional chili specialties, some associated with a particular place and others with components that evoke a location.

Related: 45 Easy Comfort Foods to Make This Fall

Original San Antonio Chili
Real Texas Chili

Real Texas Chili

This regional chili has a lot in common with the San Antonio original, given that it's mostly meat. An updated recipe calls for a paste made of several types of chiles — sweet, hot, fruity, and smoky — with garlic and cumin, added to cubed chuck roast browned in lard. It's simmered in broth using masa harina for thickening and garlic, onion, and brown sugar mixed with vinegar for a kick. Time marries the flavors together.

Recipe: Epicurious

Related: The 17 Spiciest Foods Around the World

5-Ingredient Chili

Cajun Chili

When chili moved east into Louisiana, it took on the colors of Cajun cooking. As with so many other Cajun recipes, the base of this stew is the Big Easy trinity of bell pepper, onions, and celery sautéed in butter. Add the vegetables to browned ground meat and simmer in a sauce of wine and tomato paste with jalapeños, chili powder, and, of course, Louisiana hot sauce. One variation contains a sweet kick in the form of grape jelly or molasses.

Recipe: Cajun Grocer

For more great meal ideas and grocery tips,
please sign up for our free newsletters.

Cincinnati Chili
Kathy BurnsMillyard/shutterstock

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati's claim to chili fame — epitomized at the Skyline Chili restaurant chain — usually is eaten under or over spaghetti. Despite starting with familiar browned onions and ground beef simmered in beef broth and tomato sauce, it contains a few singular ingredients. The spices include seemingly bizarre flavors such as cinnamon, allspice, and cloves in addition to the usual cumin and cayenne pepper. Another essential ingredient is unsweetened chocolate or cocoa.


Related: 34 Beloved Local Eats That Can Be Shipped to Your Doorstep

West Coast Chili

West Coast Chili

Along the Pacific Ocean, chili morphed into a dish that uses cooked turkey instead of ground beef. Cubes of the meat are dumped into a sauce made from tomatoes and wine (of course) with browned onions, garlic, green pepper, and kidney beans. This recipe contains chili powder, cumin, fresh cilantro, and red pepper flakes.

Recipe: Recipeland

Michigan Chili

Michigan Chili

Michigan chili might have originated in that state but for some unknown reason claims a historical link with New York: It's eaten over hot dogs known as Coney dogs, for Coney Island in Brooklyn. This regional specialty is little more than onion, garlic, and ground beef simmered in tomato sauce with chili powder, cumin, celery salt, and cayenne. A big part of the appeal is the mustard, always yellow, that's slathered atop the dogs along with the chili.

Recipe: Simply Scratch

Related: The True Origins of 19 Classic 'American' Foods

Springfield Chilli
Stepanek Photography/shutterstock

Springfield Chilli

Springfield, Illinois, has proclaimed itself the "chilli capital of the civilized world." No, it's not a typo; they really do spell chili with two Ls. The peculiar spelling originated with the Dew Chilli Parlor and continued as a Springfield legacy in several establishments. A newspaper chain published a cook's transcription of an original recipe, with meat and spices cooked in a sea of suet — no tomatoes, no sauce of any kind. This makes what's known as "chili meat," which is served over a large pile of cooked beans.

Recipe: The State Journal-Register

Southern Chili
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Southern Chili

The barbecue sauce and country sausage in this regional recipe would make a Texan cringe, but they win the hearts of many Southerners. The instructions include browning ground meat and sausage, then adding onion, pepper, celery, and garlic and simmering in a sauce that contains tomatoes as well as balsamic vinegar, beer, Worcestershire sauce, and barbecue sauce. This rendition contains both red beans and black, and a little bit of honey.

Recipe: A Southern Soul

Related: 25 Finger-Licking Barbecue Sauce Recipes

Boston Chili

Boston Chili

Boston is not a place normally associated with chili, but there are probably few places in the country without some favorite version of the dish. "Boston Marathon chili" contains both stew meat and boneless pork butt. The meats are browned with onion, garlic, and bell peppers, then mixed and simmered with tomatoes, black beans, and red wine. The stew is flavored with cumin (of course), jalapeños, and chili powder.

Recipe: Bon Appétit

Beef and Black Bean Chili

Beef and Black Bean Chili

Black beans add a hit of color and a touch of the Caribbean in a regional chili recipe that goes down well in Florida. This version is fairly standard, with cubed beef browned in a pan and punched up with a variety of hot and smoky chili powders, onion, and garlic. The simmering sauce contains beer, tomatoes, and chicken stock, with black beans added near the end and a squeeze of lime to finish things off. The crowning jewel of this recipe, according to its many fans, is the dollop of cumin cream and avocado relish atop the stew.

Recipe: Bobby Flay

Hawaiian Chili

Hawaiian Chili

Local family-style restaurant Zippy's makes a sweet chili that's famous throughout the islands, although it's not full of notably Hawaiian ingredients (it contains neither Spam nor pineapple, for instance). It calls for ground beef and Portuguese sausage, browned and stewed in a sauce of tomatoes with two kinds of beans, garlic, cumin, and other spices, including ginger, paprika, and, of course, chili powder. This version adds a tablespoon of sugar; others use up to a quarter-cup of brown sugar. Finally, a secret ingredient: mayonnaise.

Recipe: Reggie's Kaukau Time

Chili Verde

New Mexico Chili Verde

Just as no self-respecting Texas chili would be served with beans, no New Mexico chili would pass muster without including green Hatch chiles. Although there's no standard recipe, New Mexico chili isn't red; it's as green as the chiles. It also contains pork instead of beef and tomatillos instead of tomatoes. This recipe calls for frying pork stew pieces first, then slow cooking them with a chili sauce made in a blender with the roasted green chilies, garlic, tomatillos, cilantro, and lime.

Recipe: Latino Foodie

Related: 30 Strange But Surprisingly Tasty Local Foods to Try

Vermont Maple Chili

Vermont Maple Chili

Although it evokes autumn in New England more than it does a cattle trail, this chili recipe from a maple syrup cookbook author does contain a few Southwestern ingredients. It starts with browned turkey, and some delicious maple syrup goes into a sauce of diced tomatoes and other ingredients for unexpected sweetness.

Recipe: Food 

Related: 55 Big-Batch Meals That Will Last for a Week