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If you’ve got a keto crew coming over for the big game, you need to know the ins and outs of keto chili.

What’s the best keto chili recipe? That depends on your personal taste (as is the case with chili in general). But whatever your particular palate, making delicious keto chili is easy, and that’s a good thing—because chili is always fantastic, obviously, but also, the rampant popularity of the ketogenic diet shows no signs of abating any time soon.

Witness the proliferation of MCT oils on the market, the popularity of Bulletproof coffee, and the existence of keto fast food options when you’re out and about. Strict keto diet adherence is still easiest when you make your own keto-compliant food at home, and there’s definitely a bit of a learning curve, but it’s not that hard to make satisfying keto meals with the right prepping and planning.

Take the aforementioned chili, for example—the perfect centerpiece of a keto tailgating menu or any fall get-together, or just the thing for a comforting weekend dinner. Follow a few simple guidelines and you can whip up a pot of keto chili that everyone will love (well, maybe not vegetarians—though there are a couple vegan keto chili recipes below too).

Here’s how to make the best keto chili:

Use Plenty of Meat

While the keto diet isn’t an excuse to eat mountains of meat with total abandon, it does allow for high meat consumption, and high-fat meat consumption too. So skip the super-lean ground beef and load up your pot with fattier ground blends and/or well-marbled cuts like rib eye. A mix of ground meat and firmer, bite-size pieces makes for a more interesting texture. (That said, there really are meatless keto options too; more on those later.)

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Related Reading: The Best Keto Costco Buys | The Best Meat Delivery & Butcher Subscription Services

Say Bye-Bye to Beans

If you’re already a Texan, or an otherwise devout member of the church of chili con carne, making keto chili won’t be too much of an issue for you, but if you love chili with meat and beans, you’ll have to make some big adjustments—namely, you’ll have to cut out the beans, which are high-carb. If you can’t bear to do it, you can substitute soy beans, which provide valuable texture, flavor, and nutrients but only one net gram of carbs per serving (not that you’re only going to eat one serving).

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Watch Out for Hidden Sugar

Lots of processed foods include a high amount of sugar (plus plenty of other things you don’t need), so beware cans of tomato sauce. Tomato paste is slightly better, and generally acceptable in keto chili recipes since you use a fairly small amount of it in relation to the total volume of other ingredients. And canned tomatoes in their juice are commonly called for, but make sure there is no added sugar in them.

Related Reading: Prep for Success: How to Do Keto Without Stress | The Best Low- and No-Sugar Cookbooks for Keto, Paleo, and Diabetic Diets

Feel Free to Top It Off

Fear of fat is incompatible with the keto diet, so you can crown your bowl of keto chili with generous amounts of sour cream, cheese, and avocado! Bacon, too.

But Skip the Chips

Yes, chili is fantastic with corn chips and tortilla chips, but you’ll have to skip them if you’re keeping keto. If you’re really craving that crunchy finish, though, try some pork rinds. They’re basically just fat, protein, and salt (as always, be sure to check your labels). Alternatively, you can make keto cheese crisps for a little crunch.

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Of course, if you’re more of a cornbread-with-chili person, you can try a keto cornbread recipe that uses gluten-free flour (in this case, almond flour).

Related Reading: The Science Behind Making Keto Bread That Doesn’t Suck

Best Keto Chili Recipes

Ready to get cooking? Check out some of these easy and delicious keto chili recipes.

Paleo Keto Chili

This keto chili does call for beer—low-carb and/or gluten-free beer, of course—plus brewed coffee for a little secret ingredient kick. The flavor gets further complexity from lightly caramelizing the onions and browning the ground beef well. Get the Paleo Keto Chili recipe.

Instant Pot Paleo Keto Bacon Chili

This beefy chili adds bacon to the mix, plus bone broth, bell pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, and chipotle—and it can be made in your Instant Pot. Get the Instant Pot Paleo Keto Bacon Chili recipe.

Related Reading: What Exactly Is Bone Broth? | The Best Bone Broth You Can Buy

Low-Carb Chili con Carne

This keto chili uses both ground beef and chunks of stew meat for great texture and extra beefy flavor. (You could also try adding crumbled sausage in place of ground beef.) Get the Low-Carb Chili con Carne recipe.

Creamy Pumpkin Keto Chili

This keto chili is totally tomato-free, but it does contain some surprising ingredients in addition to the usual ground beef, onion, and garlic—like diced radish, pumpkin puree, a little garam masala, and even avocado oil mayo to enrich the bone broth. Maybe not one for traditionalists, but what if you just called it soup? Get the Creamy Pumpkin Keto Chili recipe.

Vegan Keto Walnut Chili

While keto does usually mean meat, vegetarian and even vegan keto adherents do exist! Walnuts are heart healthy and said to help kick cravings, but they also mimic the texture of ground beef surprisingly well when finely chopped. This vegan keto chili is truly satisfying. Get the Vegan Keto Walnut Chili recipe.

Vegan Keto Chili with Soy Beans

That said, if you have a nut allergy (or just think nuts in chili sounds too odd), try a vegan keto version that uses faux meat and black soy beans. Get the Vegan Keto Chili recipe.

Keto White Chicken Chili

Another tomato-free keto chili, this white version relies on chicken, cream, and cream cheese—it’s a rich, comforting bowl with a kick from cumin and green chiles. And best of all, it can also be made in the slow cooker. Get the Keto White Chicken Chili recipe.

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Header image by Chowhound.

Jen is an editor at Chowhound. Raised on scrapple and blue crabs, she hails from Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived in Portland (Oregon) for so long it feels like home. She enjoys the rain, reads, writes, eats, and cooks voraciously, and stops to pet every stray cat she sees. Continually working on building her Gourmet magazine collection, she will never get over its cancellation. Read more of her work.
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