Chili Recipes That Are Perfect For A Cold Night

No matter where you are in America, you can probably find a local restaurant serving up chili. But it will look and taste different depending on where you are. From Texas to Cincinnati and New Mexico (home of Chili Verde) to Kansas City, chili has a plethora of regional variations around the country (via Daily Meal). In a sense, chili is uniquely American, uniting and dividing us at the same time. 

The debate is still out as to how and why chili has become so nationally beloved, but there's one thing we can all pretty much agree on. Part of the reason we love chili is because it's a lot of bang for your buck. No matter what kind of chili style you swear by, it's usually simple to make with cheap ingredients, and it yields such a bold, complex flavor that it fills you up inside and out. There's really nothing better on a cold night than a bowl full of chili, so we've rounded up our best recipes for you.

Slow Cooker Chili

One reason chili is so great is because it's pretty much foolproof. You don't really have to do much except brown your meat (if you're using any), add your spices and other ingredients, and let all the flavors cook together. It's so simple — and yet, that process can be made even easier with a slow cooker. This recipe for slow cooker chili requires just 10 minutes of prep work before the meat of your choice is thrown into a slow cooker along with beans, tomatoes, and a blend of spices. Six hours later, dinner is served.

Quick Turkey Chili

Chili has a reputation as a red meat-centric dish. It's believed Texas origins help explain why most people associate beef with chili. But it's the 21st century and anything is possible, including making delicious, satisfying chili with lean protein alternatives. We recommend this recipe for quick turkey chili that's perfect for weeknights – same traditional chili flavors, with less saturated fat. This recipe also adds corn and green chilis for an extra Southwestern kick.

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

These days, most chili recipes fall in one of two camps, red or white. Red chili leans more classic, with red meat, red beans, red chili peppers, tomatoes, you get the idea. White chili is usually characterized by a white meat, lots of broth, garlic and green chilis and herbs. While these versions are very different, they are also inherently the same in that they're both full of delicious flavor and chunky texture that is guaranteed to be better as leftovers. And white chicken chili can be made ahead of time just as easily as its counterpart — we recommend this slow cooker white chicken chili recipe, perfect for busy weeknights or lazy Sundays.

3-Bean Vegetarian Chili

If there's one myth we'd like to quickly debunk, it's that chili must be made with meat. While some historic die-hards may argue that vegetarian chili isn't the real deal, whip yourself up a hearty bowl of this 3-bean vegetarian chili recipe, and you just won't care about the haters anymore. It's a simple, 30-minute meal starring black, kidney, and pinto beans that will leave you feeling cozy and full. And it totally deserves a spot in your Meatless Monday rotation.

5-Ingredient Chili

Chili's distinct flavor comes from the, you guessed it, chili powder, and other spices that are cooked down with the meat, beans, and veggies in the old-school tradition. These days, they've managed to bottle up that flavor and sell it at the supermarket, but even if your spice cabinet is virtually non-existent, this simple 5-ingredient chili recipe is perfect for you. Stop at your local grocery store on your way home and pick up some ground beef, an onion, a can of diced tomatoes, any beans you like, and some premixed chili seasoning. And that's it — you can definitely do this.

Copycat Wendy's Chili

If you love the 5-ingredient chili, but think you can handle a little more advanced recipe, then you've gotta try out our copycat Wendy's chili recipe. We analyzed over the fan-favorite fast food chili and added a few of our own "secret" ingredients to try and replicate the beloved flavor. Hint: They are butter and sugar (trust us, it works). The key here is to let this chili cook down for at least two hours, and ideally, rest overnight for the ultimate results.

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili Colorado

The name might generate some confusion, but if you want to make some totally traditional, Mexican-inspired, Texas-style chili, then you'll want to check out our recipe for spicy slow cooker chili Colorado. This recipe calls for chunks of cubed steak (not your go-to ground beef) to be cooked down over the course of several hours with whole, rehydrated chili peppers for the most authentic chili flavor you can get. This is a perfect make-ahead meal for weeknights, the ultimate belly-warmer on a super snowy day, and the perfect way to impress any cowboys you run into.