The Best Blend Of Beans For Chili

With the arrival of fall comes cooler weather, football tailgating, and autumn festivals, a perfect time to break out steaming pots of chili. This warm and hearty favorite can be easily whipped up in big batches to share with friends and family at social gatherings, and is a common staple accompanying bivalves at oyster roasts. While the carnivore crowd might go the no-bean route, also known as Texas chili, most people will incorporate some kind of beans into the mix for a little more variety and depth of flavor.

There might be disagreement over the best type of bean to use in chili, with kidney and pinto respectively often getting the nod for the top choice. However, when it comes to the best blend of beans to include with chili, there is a strong consensus that kidney, pinto, and black beans are the way to go for optimal results. They are typically the trio of beans listed among the ingredients comprising a three-bean chili recipe. These three beans rank high among chili connoisseurs for several reasons.

Texture, flavor, and color

One of the main reasons that kidney, pinto, and black beans are commonly touted as the preferred combination of beans for chili is that their firm texture can endure the lengthy cooking process without becoming too soft or mushy. Not all beans can make the cut after stewing in the pot for hours, but these three can handle the heat in the kitchen. Each bean contributes to the flavor of the chili as well, with kidney and black beans bringing a richness and heartiness and pinto beans providing a creaminess and earthiness. Pinto beans also have a softer texture in contrast to kidney and black beans, while still holding up well during cooking.

Although perhaps not as high on the priority list as taste and texture, a mixture of these three beans also adds a variety of colors — red, black, and tan — to liven up the appearance of the chili. We all appreciate a little aesthetics in our food, and a colorful presentation is part of the overall culinary experience. An ideal bean blend can get you started on the foundation for a delicious chili, but you still have myriad ways to define your own unique version with veggies, seasonings, and spices galore to choose and blend.