Healthy Game Day Chili Recipe

healthy chili recipe

There’s nothing like a giant pot of chili and a football game to really feel that Fall is here. I just love the changing of the seasons – I’ll miss summer but am looking forward to sweaters, boots, holidays, snow and, of course, fall flavors.

This is my easy go-to healthy game day chili recipe. I usually have more of the ingredients on hand and once you make it once or twice it’s a cinch to pull together.

It also feeds an army, so make it for a party or as a make-ahead meal for a few nights that week.

If you’ve been on my blog a while you’ve probably noticed that I rarely eat beef. In fact, I think this is the first recipe that I’ve ever posted that contains beef. However, grass-fed beef is a whole food and is a great source of omega-3’s, protein, and iron so I think it’s ok every now and again. I gave you the option below to use it or to make this chili vegan. Your choice.

This entire recipe is dairy-free – give it a try without the cheese and I know you’ll love it! Avocado makes the perfect garnish here, and it’s way healthier, too.


When using canned food, always look for organic and cans with BPA-free linings. Many companies are now using BPA-free liners and I’ve even seen some move to small boxes instead of cans, which are great. If you can’t find them just do the best you can. Also, I limit my cans to just beans and tomatoes and never eat other fruits and veggies out of the can – frozen is the 2nd best option to fresh and frozen fruits and veggies are easy to find. Since beans and tomatoes don’t come frozen, I just use them out of the can when I don’t have time to think a day ahead to prepare beans from scratch. I don’t drain and rinse the tomatoes, you want those juices, but I always drain and rinse canned beans to remove excess sodium, and to reduce compounds that sometimes give people tummy troubles.

A Few Tips:

  • In general, always try to use organic ingredients. If you can’t find them, just do the best you can.
  • I only buy organic grass-fed beef because I really do think it makes a difference in your health. Again, just do the best you can.
  • I use 12-15 ounce cans here, use what is available in your store.
  • You can actually make this a day or two ahead. Just let it cool completely and keep it in the refrigerator. If you make it in a dutch oven just put the lid on and stick the whole thing in the fridge. Otherwise, store it in a large air-tight container. Reheat over medium-low heat on the day you want to serve.
  • San Marzano tomatoes are a specific type of tomato from Italy and really have a nice naturally sweet flavor. They cost a little more but are well worth it. Use them if you can find them at a good price.
  • Be your own chef! Add different veggies, beans, or spices that sound good to you. You’ll use 3 cans of beans here, feel free to use all the same mix of them up like I did.

Elizabeth’s Healthy Game Day Chili Recipe

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Total time: about 1.5 hours
Serves 8


  • 1 pound organic grass-fed lean ground beef (optional)
  • 1 yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated or finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cans diced San Marzano tomatoes (or 4 large fresh tomatoes, diced)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped (optional, for heat)
  • Optional: if you’re up for a new twist, add 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to your chili – it’s delicious
  • Sea salt (about 2-3 teaspoons total for the whole pot)
  • Freshly ground coarse black pepper


  • Sliced avocado
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Finely diced red onion
  • A few organic corn tortilla chips (I like the extra thin ones)


1. If using the beef, preheat a large dutch oven to high heat. Brown the meat for 2-3 minutes until slightly caramelized. Add a healthy pinch of sea salt and a sprinkle of black pepper and stir. Reduce the heat to medium. If making this chili vegan, skip straight to step 2.

2. Add the onion and carrot. Stir and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes. If not using meat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan first to sauté the onion & carrot. Add the pressed garlic, chili powder, cumin, bay leaf and pinch of sea salt, and stir for about 1 minute to cook the garlic and toast the spice. Reduce heat while cooking garlic if needed so it doesn’t burn. Burnt garlic is no bueno.

3. Bring the pot back to medium heat, add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes – the acid from the tomatoes will deglaze the bottom of the pan. Stir well scraping the bottom of the pan.

4. Add the beans and peppers plus 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir well and cook for at least 5 minutes, then taste to check to see if you need more salt. I usually end up adding another teaspoon of sea salt, but depending on how much you used earlier and the other ingredients you may or may not need it. Don’t be afraid to salt your food! Salt brings out the flavor of all foods, and cooking from scratch won’t even come close to the sodium levels in processed foods. Add 1 cup of purified water to thin out your chili if it is too thick.

5. Let it simmer on low, stirring about every 15 minutes, for at least an hour if you can to let the flavors come together. The longer is sits the better the flavor. If you make it a few hours ahead, you can turn the heat on a covered dutch oven off for a few hours and it will stay hot. Just turn the heat back on a few minutes before you’re ready to serve. Or, keep it in a crockpot on the warm setting on your counter or transport to the tailgate. Tons of options here.

Store leftovers in a glass airtight container up to 3 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

Happy Football Season!

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  1. Its just amazing I tried it after reading this article and it was just the right thing that I was looking for my family. The taste was heaven I really liked it. With the perfect bend of spicy it just literally killed it I enjoyed it a lot.

  2. Vlc Spices says:

    Was a great blog to read & will definitely try to make. Thank you for sharing the recipe. Will surely recommend this chili Recipe to people who will be benefited.
    Do share such blogs. Thank you.

  3. Angele Browning says:

    What size of cans is needed for tomato sauce and Caned Tomatoes ?

  4. maria polese says:

    I love cooking and I’ll try at soonest this recipe seems perfetct….1

  5. Jenn P says:

    Looks amazing!!!!

  6. Michelle Freitas says:

    What a great recipe! I can’t wait to try it out on game day.

  7. Emily Allen says:

    Yum! I love chili, and I can’t wait to give this recipe a try!

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Instead of prescribing what I think you should do, I help you find what works for you.

A health expert, author, and creative entrepreneur

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