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Tasty Chili Recipes and Toppings to Try Before Spring

Three images of recipes recommended in the article below from brands including: A Healthy Life For Me/40 Aprons/Real Simple
A Healthy Life For Me/40 Aprons/Real Simple

It won’t be long before the days turn warm, but that doesn’t mean you have to stash your favorite wintery recipes away until next year. If you’re still enjoying your favorite cozy casseroles and hearty stews, then we have a few unique chili recipes we think you will love.

From hearty beanless bowls to wholesome chickpea chilis, we hope at least one of these pops out at you. Even if you have a recipe you already love, be sure to check out our list of 20 tasty toppings. We’ve included recipes for hot queso, avocado salsa, and so much more.

Hearty No-Bean Chili

hearty no bean chili
Healthy Recipes

Whether you have pounds of ground beef chilling in your deep freezer or you’re looking for a big one-pot meal to feed your big family, this no-bean chili surely delivers.

This oh-so-hearty meal is filled with chunky bits of meat and tomato— perfect for anyone who doesn’t love beans or legumes. Top it off with shredded cheese and sour cream, or scroll down to our list of topping ideas for something a little different.

When cooking your big pot of chili, keep in mind that some materials don’t react well with tomatoes. Before whipping out any old stockpot, be sure it’s made with nonreactive metal. Steel and aluminum pots work great with the high acidity levels in tomatoes, so be sure to select one of those.

Cuisinart Chef's Classic 5-Quart Chili Pot

Made with a non-reactive metal--- perfect for chili!

Three-Bean Chili with Pesto

A bowl of 3 bean spring chili with pesto.
Real Simple

Now, if you are looking for something on the much-healthier side, then this three-bean (no-meat) chili might just do it for you. The hot bowl is filled with kidney beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, and lots of veggies like onions, tomato, and carrots.

You’ll appreciate the final touch of herbaceous pesto dolloped over the top for an all-things-fresh flare you won’t get in any other bowl of chili. This makes for a perfect meatless Monday option if you want to cut back on animal protein.

White Bean Chili

White Bean Chili
40 Aprons

There is something seriously special about a white chicken chili. Most recipes use cream cheese for an ultra-creamy twist, and we absolutely adore the flavor that comes with that.

This recipe is a bit more wholesome but still loaded with dynamite flavor. The dairy-free and gluten-free dish comes together with ingredients like chicken, corn, chiles, white beans, and canned chiles. From there, consider adding whatever toppings you’d like.

If you’d like to keep things healthy, we recommend using sliced avocado and chopped green onions as your toppings. You’ll appreciate how good you feel after eating a big bowl.

Bacon Bison Beer Chili

Bacon bison beer chili
A Healthy Life For Me

Any recipe that calls for a cold brew as an ingredient is a recipe we can appreciate. The carbonation in crisp lagers bring batters to life, while the flavors of dark porter-style beers taste fantastic in rich beefy-style stews and savory pies. It’s exactly why we always make our Thanksgiving turkey with a bottle of Belgian white beer every November.

This beefy chili is one for the books and a fantastic recipe for anyone interested in making something new and spectacular. You’ll use ground bison meat instead of ground beef, a few slabs of chopped bacon, and a medium-bodied brewski for this recipe. Oh, how you will relish the flavor that comes with those ingredients.

McCormick Original Chili Seasoning Mix

Save yourself a few bucks with premixed chili seasoning.

Salsa Verde Chicken Chickpea Chili

Salsa verde chili
Ambitious Kitchen

Salsa verde is a green salsa made with tomatillos instead of red tomatoes and boasts a unique flavor you won’t get in other salsas. While it’s usually enjoyed with tortilla chips, we found a chili recipe highlighting the fresh earthy notes thanks to the salsa verde.

The healthy chili is filled with nutritious ingredients like corn, onion, chickpeas, quinoa, and much more. But our favorite part is that you can make it all in the slowcooker. Nothing beats the ease of dumping ingredients in and then pressing a button.

Crock-Pot 7-Quart Slow Cooker

Make full-sized, home-cooked meals for the whole family with minimal effort.

20 Delicious Chili Toppings to Try

Three images of recipes in the article below from blogs including: How Sweet Eats/Cookie and Kate/Downshiftology
How Sweet Eats/Cookie and Kate/Downshiftology

We all love topping our chili with a cool dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, and a few other ingredients, but sometimes we have to take things up a notch. That’s where these amped-up toppings come into play. From crunchy-sweet corn salsa to warm cornbread croutons, there is something on this list for you to try.

Avocado Salsa

Avocado salsa combines fun ingredients like avocado, tomatoes, and pineapple to create a flavorful topping that tastes delicious over vegetarian white bean chilis or shredded chicken chili. Serve a hot bowl of your choice with a generous dollop over the top, with a side of tortilla chips.

Drizzled Hot Queso

Hot queso cheese is oh-so-yummy over nachos, in tacos, or drizzed over rice and beans — but did you know it also pairs beautifully with chili? You’ll especially love this over a bowl of traditional chilii or on a no-bean chili. The warm cheese will provide an additional umami burst you’ll love.

Fresh Pico de Gallo

Fresh pico de Gallo tastes best when added to a hot bowl of chili just before serving it. The cold gushes of tomato will bring a great contrast in temperature and flavor every time you take a bite.

Including ingredients like Roma tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno, you’ll find loads of flavor in the dip. If you don’t like the idea of fresh tomatoes over your chili, consider serving it as a side dish with tortilla chips instead.

Corn Salsa

Corn salsa will deliver the same concept as a fresh pico de Gallo but by using sweet kernels of corn instead. If you are a sucker for Chipotles corn salsa, this copycat recipe is just for you. Diced red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, corn, and lime juice come together to create a crunchy sweet topping to enjoy over chili.

Homemade Guacamole

You can easily prepare homemade guacamole in under 10 minutes, and it always tastes superior when compared to the mediocrity of the store-bought stuff. Feel free to serve guac on the side with tortilla chips if you aren’t feeling it as a topping, but if you are daring enough, be sure to scoop a cold spoonful right over the top.

Chipotle Ranch

Chipotle ranch is just the ingredient you need for tacos, burritos, and nachos, and yes, a drizzle of it over your chili is fire! If you’ve never tried it, we encourage you to whip up a batch or try Taco bell’s chipotle sauce for a quick (and tasty) shortcut.

Taco Bell Mexican Taco Bell Chipotle Creamy Sauce

A drizzle here and a drizzle there!

Cornbread Croutons

We all know cornbread and chili taste amazing together, but have you ever given cornbread croutons a try? By cutting cornbread into little cubes, tossing them in oil, and letting them crisp up in the oven, you’ll have a serving of crispy little croutons that pair amazingly with a big bowl of traditional chili.

Classic Toppings

While all those amped-up chili toppings sound amazing (because they are), they do take time to prepare. If you’re looking for a few more straightforward topping ideas, check out our list below. We’ve included all the classics plus a few extras you might want to try.

  • Sour cream: Sour cream is a classic, but for a healthier choice, consider trying plain Greek yogurt instead. Both ingredients help cool down the spiciness of chili.
  • Shredded cheese: Cheeses like cheddar, Colby jack, Monterey, and pepper jack are all excellent choices to try over a hot bowl.
  • Diced onion: Red, yellow, and white onions are all great options. Use whatever your fridge is sporting, and finely dice it for a subtly sharp crunch factor.
  • Jalapeno peppers: Pickled jalaeno peppers are slightly less spicy than fresh jalapenos but still provide that much-needed oomph of piquant power.
  • Green onions: Give them a rough chop, then sprinkle them over your chili.
  • Chives: Chives offer more of a delicate oniony flavor that tastes lovely combined with sour cream.
  • Diced bell pepper: Need a little crunch? Diced bell pepper will help. Feel free to combine yellow, green, and orange bell peppers for a trio of bright flavors.
  • Tortilla chips: Tortilla chips are perfect for dipping into your chili but also make a lovely topping when crushed up and sprinkled over.
  • Fritos: Fritos is possibly the simplest and tastiest topping to add over a hearty bowl of chili. We never make our classic chili recipe without a bag of Fritos on the side.
  • Lime juice: A spritz of lime juice will add a really lovely tang to your chili. This is especially delicious over a white chicken chili.
  • Avocado: If you don’t have time to whip up guacamole, sliced avocado is your next best option. The soft fatty fruit goes hand in hand with a classic or white chicken chili.
  • Rice: This one might seem a bit strange, but a few spoonfuls of rice mixed in with chili brings on additional carby goodness.
  • Hot sauce: Just in case you need a little extra spice, you can turn to a bottle of your favorite hot sauce for more.

Chili is amazing, especially when it’s cold out, so before it gets too warm, be sure to make a batch with your favorite toppings. Once you are ready to hop into spring, we have lots of additional recipes to try.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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