What’s in the best canned chili? Well, partner, that’s between you and god. There are so many options: beans, no beans, spice, no spice, beef, turkey, soy protein—if you like it in homemade chili, you’ll probably find it in canned chili from the grocery store.
Chili is one of the most versatile foods known to man. We love that. You can crack open a can and just eat it straight, or dress it up with fixins like diced onion, crushed up crackers, shredded cheddar, and sour cream. Hell, some people even eat it on spaghetti.
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. Over the course of two separate taste tests, we tried more than a dozen brands and varieties, from beef chili without beans to turkey chili with beans. We were looking for nice spice, hearty texture, and balance—all the flavors should work together to make something great. So, break the glass on your own emergency can opener and get ready for the best canned chili you can buy.
- Great Value Chili with No Beans
Great Value tastes great (like many Great Value foods), but it lacks the tender beans we crave and the meat isn’t the highest quality. Still, it’s one of the only canned chilis we tried that actually includes monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is a powerful flavor enhancer. Here at Sporked, we like MSG in doses, and it does wonders for chili. Get the flavor however you can. This is cheap, inoffensive, no BS chili that you can do a lot of things with. Put this canned chili on hot dogs, nachos, spaghetti, Doritos, tacos, your pillow. It’s your world, baby. It’s among the best canned chili for versatility alone. —Danny Palumbo
Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart
- 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 the best canned chili. But it isn’t the most flavorful chili in the world, 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. —Danny Palumbo
Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart
- Stagg Chili Dynamite Hot Chili with Beans
Stagg chili really blew us away during our follow-up taste test. Their Dynamite Hot Chili with Beans is a little on the sweet side, but it’s delicious. “Thick and hearty” is what it says on the can, and that’s no lie. It does have a lot of pepper flakes, but it’s nice and spicy as a result (they credit the heat to habaneros). You can just tell this is high quality when you look at it. If you like your canned chili hot, no added hot sauce needed, this is the best spicy chili we tried. —Gwynedd Stuart
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart
- Trader Joe’s Beef Chili with Beans
This chili is chunky and dark. The dark appearance and savory flavor 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 crushed tortilla chips and hot sauce to spice it up. —Danny Palumbo
Credit: Ryan Martin
- Stagg Chili Turkey Ranchero Chili with Beans
Of all the canned chili we tried, this one tasted the most like homemade, and it really blew everyone away. You can actually taste chili pepper and cumin. It has nice big pieces of tomato—you can see diced pepper and onion, too. It’s not too thick but not soupy either. Honestly, the best thing about this is the turkey. I know! It’s wild! But instead of ground turkey, Stagg uses shredded turkey and it’s delicious. If it didn’t say “turkey” on the can, I would absolutely think it was shredded beef, like ropa vieja. If you don’t eat red meat, this is the best canned chili you can buy. —Gwynedd Stuart
Credit: Liv Averett / Ralphs
- Amy’s Organic Spicy Chili
We previously had Amy’s Medium Organic Chili in this spot, but the spicy version—which we weren’t able to source last time—is so much better. I mean, it even looks better. It has a deeper red color—much more like what you expect from a good chili. On a retasting, Amy’s Medium is a little bit sweet. Yes, you could fix it up with some cheese and sour cream to make it a little more salty and savory, but the spicy version doesn’t really need it. I should also note that the “spicy” here tastes like a chipotle pepper spice—you get more smokiness than actual heat. If you have an aversion to spicy foods, I think you could totally handle this. And I absolutely love the meatless crumble in here! It’s really satisfying, but it isn’t the centerpiece like it is in Gardein’s canned chili, which, sadly, we didn’t enjoy enough to rank. —Gwynedd Stuart
Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart
- Dennison’s Original Chili Con Carne with Beans
Dennison’s Chili Con Carne with Beans is well seasoned, creamy, and meaty. It’s hearty in a way other chilis can only dream of being, and it’s packed with 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, making it the best canned chili we tasted overall. Balance is what makes good chili, and Dennison’s has that in spades. Buy it confidently. —Danny Palumbo
Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart
Best for Nachos
Best with Tortilla Chips
Best Turkey Chili
Best Plant Based
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: Kroger Original Chili with Beans, Nally Original Chili con Carne with Beans, Campbell’s Chunky Roadhouse Chili with Beans, Stagg Classic Chili with Beans, Wolf Brand Chili with Beans, Armour Star Chili with Beans, 365 Three Bean Vegan Chili, First Street Chunky Chili con Carne, Brookdale Original Chili with Beans, Marie Callender’s Angus Beef Chili, Hormel Turkey Chili with Beans, Gardein Plant-Based Chili with Beans, Wolf Brand Spicy Chili
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