Where we come from, this time of year is always tough because the weather is so erratic. Some days it’s so mild outside that we’re basically ready to pack our parkas away and embrace spring, and other days we’re back in deep freeze mode, piling scarves and layers on to keep out the chill. We’ve always been pretty cold people, however, and even though winter has its charm, we’re cautious to give up all the warm clothes, habits, and snacks that usually comfort us in cold weather too soon. That’s why you’ll still find us making deliciously toasty meals all the way through until Easter, just to make sure our families are warmed through until nicer weather really does arrive for good for the year! What’s our favourite late winter meal to make, you ask? Well, we find that around this time of year, we just can’t resist a good chili!
Just in case you love chili as much as we do but you also like to switch up your favourites with a unique flavour twist or two as well, here are 15 of our favourite unique chili recipes for you to try before spring comes.
1. White bean chicken chili with butternut squash
As much as we adore out classic beef chili with kidney beans, we always think it’s nice to have a lighter tasting version available, just to keep things interesting. That’s why we’ve been so obsessed with chicken chilis lately! This particular recipe from Foodie Crush is a huge favourite in our house because the butternut squash adds a deliciously satisfying bit of extra flavour and texture into the mix.
2. Indian spiced turkey chili
Perhaps you’ve been on the hunt for a recipe that’s got a slightly leaner meat alternative to ground beef, but chicken chilis aren’t really your thing? Then we have a feeling turkey based chilis are probably the best option for you! If you like a little bit of spice in your meals as well, then this Indian spiced turkey chili from Two Healthy Kitchens just might be the answer to your warm late winter entree prayers. We like to pack ours full of all kinds of veggies too, just to really make it hearty and satisfying.
3. Beanless orzo chili
If you’re going to put a unique twist on a recipe, why not make it a really unique one so long as you don’t lose the part of the chili that made you fall in love with the dish in the first place? We’d be willing to argue that this delicious beanless orzo chili recipe from iFood Blogger fits that bill just about perfectly! Our kids especially love this one because the orzo is mild and filling and, while they will eat beans when we serve them, they’d certainly prefer not to. This particular meat seasoning recipe does have a little bit of kick and spice to it, but the beauty of making dinner at home is that the amount of spice you add is totally within your control, so feel free to swap what’s recommended with what your family will like best.
4. Crockpot Thai chicken chili
Just because the kind of chili you’re used to is the classic all American version doesn’t mean that’s the only kind of delicious chili around! One of our favourite international flavours has actually always been Thai food, so we were nothing short of ecstatic when we came across this Thai chicken curry inspired version of a house favourite dish! Honest and Truly shows you how to make it from scratch, control how much spice you put in, and even how to garnish it with a lime wedge because that fresh squeeze of added flavour really makes each bite even more delicious than it already would have been.
5. Easy white chicken chili with avocado
Are you still thinking about the white bean chicken chili we showed you above but you’re not sure the vegetables you saw featured there would go over quite as smoothly as some other alternatives in your house? Well, if your kids are anything like ours, then they’re probably currently snubbing any vegetable that isn’t an avocado. There’s just something so delicious about avocados that has our kids completely hooked, and we love them so much too that we can’t even say we blame them. That’s why we were so excited to try this white bean and chicken chili recipe from Babble! It’s practically swimming in deliciously satisfying avocado chunks, just to amp up both the flavour and the texture even more.
6. Bacon bison beer chili
When you decided you wanted to put a new twist on your chili recipe, were you actually picturing something even more hearty in the classic meat and tomato sauce vein than the regular old recipe you usually throw into the crockpot? In that case, we think we might have found just the recipe for you! A Healthy Life for Me guides you through the process of making a tomato based chili using bison instead of ground beef. As if that’s not tempting enough, they show you how to amp up the flavour be adding bacon pieces and using beer to make the base for your sauce! The resulting mixture of flavours is practically gourmet.
7. Bean and buckwheat chili with dark chocolate
Were you intrigued by the idea we just showed you above but you’ve actually never been a big beer fan and you’re not sure how you feel about replacing beef with bison, even though you’d like to experiment with your rich chili flavour? In that case, we absolutely recommend taking a look at the way Heavenlynn Healthy flavoured their chili base using the sweet tones of dark chocolate! Between that and the extra heartiness of buckwheat in with your beans and beef, you’re in for a filling dinner.
8. Slow cooker black bean, butternut squash, and quinoa chili
Are you actually on the hunt for unique chili recipes because someone in your family or circle of friends doesn’t eat meat, but you really love chili and already had your heart set on making it for everyone this weekend? Then here’s an absolutely scrumptious recipe that will help you compromise so that no one’s left out and everyone’s tummies are filled right up! The Full Helping guides you step by step through the process of making a chili that include quinoa in the place of ground beef. The spices are the same and the sweet potato helps keep it hearty and satisfying, so the only differences we noticed in taste were flavourful, positive ones! We’ve actually made this one again for ourselves since our first try just because we liked it, even though we’re not vegetarian.
9. Easy black lentil chili
Is someone in your family actually quite opposed to beans even though they really like chili, so you’re always catching them picking around the beans and leaving them in the bottom of the bowl? Well, maybe it’s time to try an alternative that everyone might like better so no part of the dinner will go to waste! We did precisely that with this easy black lentil chili and it was a huge success at our dinner table. Turnip The Oven shows you how to make it happen, season it perfectly, and top it with delicious avocado chunks.
10. Cincinnati turkey chili spaghetti squash bowls
Perhaps you’re just find with making and eating something pretty close to the standard chili you’re used to enjoying but you feel like there’s just got to be a more interesting way to serve the dish to give your family or guests a little extra flavour and fun? Then we absolutely think you should take a look at the way Whole and Heavenly Oven combined their chili with and then served it in side some flavourful spaghetti squash! Don’t get us wrong, we love straight up chili in a bowl as much as the next person, but this idea gives you just a little something extra to love.
11. Pork chili with bok choy
Even though we do eat meat and we even quite enjoy ground beef, there are other kinds of meat out there that we occasionally prefer. After all, if you’re going to explore flavour options, you might as well explore all of them, right? That’s why we were so into this idea of making ground pork chili instead of ground beef! Find out how this delicious recipe, which also features bok choy, lime, and avocado, was made on Kitchen of Youth.
12. Slow cooker salsa verde chicken chickpea chili
Did we really catch your attention when we started talking about recipes that were lighter, spicier, and of a combination that borders on gourmet, but none of the individual options we already showed you quite caught your eye? In that case, here’s an awesome idea that combines a lot of different things we’ve mentioned in one place! Check out how Ambitious Kitchen made a chicken based chili with a salsa verde base for flavour and spice, chickpeas as alternatives for beans, and jalapeno garnishes to amp the dish’s kick up even more! We love that we can put it all in the slow cooker in the morning and have dinner ready by the time our work day is finished.
13. Short rib black bean chili
Just in case you’re still intrigued by how many different meat options you can replace standard ground beef for without actually losing the classic deep chili taste you love so much, here’s another alternative for you! Instead of using regular ground beef, The Gourmet Gourmand shows you how to make a delicious and totally fragrant chili using short ribs. It’s the perfect combination of warm winter dinners and game day food, so this really is a good season for it!
14. Slow cooker cream cheese chicken chili
In our experience, there are people who enjoy a regular chili base that’s mostly tomatoes and meat, and then there are also people who like their chili made closer to a soup, sometimes even with a creamier base than usual. Well, we love both, but we find we don’t come across the cream based recipes quite as commonly, so we’re always very excited when we find a new one to try! This slow cooker chicken chili is cream cheese based and stacked with all kinds of shredded chicken, beans, and avocado slices for irresistible taste. See how it’s made in more detail on Creme de la Crumb!
15. Vegan chili with bourbon and noodles
As chili enthusiasts, we’ve long known that there has always existed a debate about whether or not chili should contain noodles. If you ask us, chili is great no matter what you put in it and noodles just add even more satisfaction to fill your tummy up, but we definitely have family members who vehemently disagree! Even so, we keep this delicious bourbon chili and noodles recipe on hand because we just find it so delicious. This version from My Modern Cookery is actually vegan, but you could use it as a base guide for a meat recipe too if you prefer.
Do you have another deliciously unique homemade chili recipe that you make all the time because it’s always a huge hit in your house but you don’t see anything similar on our list? Tell us all about how it’s made or link us to recipes and photos in the comments section!