The 6 Best Canned Chilis to Buy

What goes into a chili? Well, partner, that’s between you and God. Beans, no beans, carrots, beef, pork, chicken—it’s really whatever you believe chili to be in your heart. Chili is also versatile. It’s great served piping hot all by itself.

Squeeze your fist around some crackers above your chili bowl to add some texture. Dress chili up with fixin’s (it’s never fixings, btw. It’s fixin’s) like onion, shredded cheddar, and sour cream. Good hot sauce goes a long, long way with chili, too. Chili’s meaty, bean-heavy essence can handle a good amount of liquified heat. On a hot dog, chili thrills and delights. Hell, some people even put it on spaghetti. Chili is a Hollywood triple threat. She can sing, she can act, and she’s got a New York Times best seller. Chili is famous because chili is talented.

We pulled out the Sporked emergency can opener (it’s in a glass case next to the fire extinguisher) to find the best canned chili. Here’s what we looked for: Chili should be thick like stew. There shouldn’t be much drippage. Also, chili should be spiced, aromatic, meaty (even if it’s vegetarian—beans can be meaty). It should be filling. Good chili should be tasty all by itself, but it should also work well with fixin’s. More than anything, chili should be balanced. All the flavors and ingredients need to work in unison, not against one another.

So, break the glass on your own emergency can opener, and read about our own personal Springfield chili cook-off. 

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Dennison’s Original Chili Con Carne with Beans

Best of the Best

Dennison’s Original Chili Con Carne with Beans

This chili is well-seasoned, creamy, and meaty. Dennison’s is hearty in a way other chilis can only dream to be. It features big hunks of beef and pork rather than uninspiring ground up molecules of meat like a lot of competitors. It’s also not overly tomato-y, and there’s a steady yet subtle flavor of garlic and onion. The pinto beans really shine, too. Basically, every spoonful is packed with flavor and the ingredients work in harmony. This is just really good, really consistent chili. Heat, meat, spice, and beans. Balance is what makes good chili, and Dennison’s has that in spades. Buy it confidently.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Amy’s Organic Chili Medium

Best Meatless

Amy’s Organic Chili Medium

Does chili need meat to be chili? Or does it need beans? Amy’s makes a case that it only needs beans. We appreciate that the red beans here are perfectly tender. They’re creamy yet not completely mushy. When beans are cooked right, they make you forget all about meat, and that’s what Amy’s does. It’s seriously chunky chili for being meatless, thanks in part to the addition of tofu. (Don’t worry, tofu haters, you barely notice it’s there.) This chili would benefit from some hot sauce and oyster crackers, but it proves that great chili can be meatless!

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Trader Joe’s Beef Chili with Beans

Best with Tortilla Chips

Trader Joe’s Beef Chili with Beans

This chili is chunky and dark. The dark appearance and savory flavors likely come from ancho powder, which has a sweet, smoky, savory essence. Trader Joe’s beef chili is nicely spiced, and you can really  taste the cumin and paprika. It also contains some dried bell pepper that adds a nice herby sweetness. This chili feels rich, hearty, and almost buttery. It could use a little more salt, though. Feel free to add your own or, shoot, add some salty tortilla chips and hot sauce to spice it up.

Credit: Ryan Martin

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Brookdale Chili No Beans

Best for a Chili Dog

Brookdale Chili No Beans

Brookdale has a picture of a hot dog on the can, so we’re inclined to use it for that purpose. Also, beanless chili on a hot dog just makes the most sense. Chili dogs are a real “hat on a hat” scenario. It’s going for broke. It’s walking into a casino and saying, “Hell yeah. Let it ride.”

Brookdale chili runs a bit on the creamy side. There’s a strong cumin flavor as well, and it’s very tomato-forward. It could use some raw onions, but even without them this would make a great hot dog topping. A hot dog with meat chili, raw onions, and that nuclear, bright orange, shredded cheddar? Awooga, hubbah hubbah, get in my belly, etc., etc.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Hormel Chili with Beans

Best for Nachos

Hormel Chili with Beans

“I wanted to be snobbish about it, but it’s a good, standard can of chili,” remarked Sporked editor-in-chief Justine Sterling. There’s a nice depth of flavor here, and Hormel does have the desirable balance of flavor you look for in a can of chili. However, it’s a bit on the bland side. This chili needs some help, which is why dumping it on a plate of salty, corn tortilla chips and adding sour cream, jalapeños, onions, and cheese is the right move. The price is excellent, too. If you’re having people over for nachos and a game, buy Hormel and dress it up a bit.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

6/10

Sporks

Great Value Chili with No Beans

Best Budget

Great Value Chili with No Beans

Great value has some pretty decent flavor, but it lacks the tender beans we crave and the meat isn’t the highest quality. Still, it’s one of the only chilis that actually includes monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is a powerful flavor enhancer. Here at Sporked, we like MSG in doses, and chili is one of those things it does wonders for. Get the flavor however you can. This is cheap, inoffensive, no BS chili that you can do a lot of things with. Put some Great Value chili on hot dogs, nachos, spaghetti, Doritos, tacos, your pillow. It’s your world, baby.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

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About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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  • Im offended at the lack of wolf brand chili on this list.

    Reply
    • Exactly can’t take this website seriously

      Reply
      • Hey ya’ll!

        We tried Wolf chili. It tastes like dog food.

        Arf arf and have a good one

        – Danny

  • I’ll fight you on this; Stagg chili, the one with the proper chunks of meat in it (is it the Steak House Reserve? Do they even make that anymore?) is far better than Dennison’s. I want heavy flavor in my chili, to taste like chili with spices and pepper and tomato; otherwise how will it flavor what it’s put with? I admit that Dennison’s is a decent substitute, but I find that I have to add significant seasoning with it if I’m eating it on top of say, rice. If eaten plain the Stagg’s is a bit much flavor wise, but works even cold; it is thick and filling and wonderful.

    Reply
  • Would anyone be willing to post the video links related to the foods?

    Reply