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Best Canned Chili – Top Picks and A Complete Buying Guide of 2019

Our Favorite Canned Chili

Nothing beats a bowl of hot and homemade chili with beans. We love a bowl of hot chili with sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese, and onions. When we need it quickly, we turn to canned chili. I grew up on canned chili on my hot dogs and loved it. It may not come close to Cookie’s fine chili made on the range over an open flame, but it’s fine in a pinch.

In Texas, we love Frito chili pie. That is one of my favorite ways to eat chili. Mmmm! Sometimes we have the time to make our chili homemade, and sometimes we need it quick. Needing chili quick is why we wanted to review the best-canned chili. What do you look for? Bursting with tomato flavor? Enough heat to make you remember it? Saucy, not thick? BEANS OR NO BEANS? These are the important questions.

Rounded up here are the five best-canned chili that are the highest quality. Read on to find out what makes a canned chili the best and all the additional factors to consider. 

The Best Canned Chili: My Top Picks

**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.

It is fitting that our first canned chili is the Wolf Brand Homestyle Chili (with beans). They say that this Texas chili recipe dates back to 1895. This chili contains a hefty amount of veggies. They tout that you will get a 1/2 cup of vegetables in every serving.

Combined with the content of veggies comes the Holy Trinity — or the three most essential ingredients of chili — which are the beef, the beans, and the tomato. 

This chili is made using ground beef and pork. It is not processed with artificial ingredients, which is something that we genuinely appreciate here. In addition, it also does not use kidney beans which may be the preference of some of you. Instead, they use pinto beans, which is a typical ingredient in true Texan recipes. 

If you want to sit down to a hearty bowl of chili, this is a great option. It is packed with flavor, vegetables, and plenty of meat. 

What We Liked

• Balanced amount of both vegetables and meat
• Easy on the wallet
• Tastes authentic

What We Didn’t Like

• Consistency of chili a little runny when heated up

If you like to pour your chili over pasta, then Skyline Original Chili is an excellent choice for you. A famous Cincinnati family cans this chili. If you are looking for that renowned flavor of spaghetti, chili, sharp cheese, and oyster crackers, this can of chili will not disappoint. Here’s a five-star budget chili pasta recipe.

Despite possessing the same consistency as pasta sauce, the Skyline Original Chili still does not lose its versatility. 

This chili is perfect for pouring over nachos or on your next hot dog. The paprika flavor stands out, but the veggies are almost invisible. One thing to keep in mind with this can of chili is that the consistency is more in line with a pasta sauce than traditional chunky chili.

This chili has quite a unique flavor that includes cinnamon and paprika. The recipe was developed in 1949 by a Greek immigrant. The combination makes for a unique flavor that we believe is worth trying.

What We Liked

• Has a little edge to the taste
• Complements cheese well
• Can be used as dip for chips
• Greate with pasta

What We Didn’t Like

• Has a bit of “canned” flavor

Are you craving chili but don’t have time to make it yourself? This Cambell’s Chunky Chili may be the perfect chili to try.

This hearty chili touts to be “thick with a mixture of seasoned pork and beef.” The picture on the front certainly makes this chili look hearty. It does have a lot of tasty ingredients but it’s not quite as chunky as the label makes it seem.

Considering the ingredients, we expected this chili to be thicker.

The flavor of this chili is complex and rich, but this is definitely a mild chili. Could use a bit more kick. Definitely open to adding your own favorite sauces like Tabasco, Cholula, or another of your favorite seasoned sauces. We like Gringo Bandito.

What We Liked

• Complex flavor brought about by different ingredients
• Meaty 
• Chunky texture
• Contains kidney beans

What We Didn’t Like

• A little too mild for our taste

Whether to have beans or no beans in chili is a choice of personal taste. I like chili both ways but prefer chili without beans on my hot dog. If you are on the go but want a bowl of chili with no beans, this is an ideal can of chili for you.

It has a combo of beef, jalapeno and onions, and other spices. Do note that this chili doesn’t contain pork. It is a beef-only chili. If you are looking for a pork-free canned chili, this is the best option for you.

We do consider this to be the best can chili without beans. 

What We Liked

• Relatively decent amount of protein
• Spiciness level is just right
• The flavor is exactly what we expected and wanted

What We Didn’t Like

• Not that chunky
• Not enough substantial vegetables

Last but most definitely not the least, we have the Chili Con Carne by Nalley Original. Unlike the previous one, this entry comes with good ol’ beans. It’s heavy on the beans, in fact.

I consider this as one of the healthiest options with a relatively great amount of fiber. This is countered by a low amount of fats. 

In fact, its benefit goes beyond the health aspect. It is also one of the most authentic: It’s comparable to my homemade chili for flavor but not the texture.

In addition, for some additional information and advice, I suggest you add some Tabasco in it. It really adds a more complex layer to the flavor of this canned chili. Serve over rice for a hearty meal.

What We Liked

• Low in fats
• High in fiber
• Healthy option
• Flavor more closely resembles that of homemade chili

What We Didn’t Like

• Rubbery texture

What Makes a Canned Chili the Best

1. The Perfect Blend of Ingredients

Canned chili is only as good as the blend and combo of the ingredients that it contains. First and foremost, what you should always keep in mind are the following: meat, beans, and tomato — The Holy Trinity of Chili.

More than just the right combo, the blend should also be of good quality. Its individual aspect must still be good. First and foremost, let us talk about the sauce, traditionally made out of tomatoes.

As such, the detail of the sauce should be thick and rich. This means that while the product is canned, the sauce must be made from authentic and real tomatoes, not just paste. ​

Additionally, there is also the meat that should be equipped with just the right level of tenderness. It should be able to complement the taste of the sauce without clashing with one another.

Lastly, let’s talk about the beans. The beans should be soft enough but not mushy. 

2. Type of Meat

Canned chili is only as good as the blend and combo of the ingredients that it contains. First and Next, let’s about the meat. Primarily, there are two types of meat which are used to make canned chili or even homemade chili. These are either ground meat or cubed meat. However, it is important to take note that ground meat is usually the way to go.

Primarily, this is because ground beef is usually a mix of the right combo of different variations of meat.

However, be it ground or cubed meat, always keep in mind that the meat must be savory enough. It must not have that metallic and bland taste. The texture has to be tender.

3. Spiciness that is Fit for Your Taste

Sometimes, what could make or break any chili is the level of spiciness. We all have different tolerance for levels of spiciness; however, there is always that general rule of thumb we follow to ensure the rich goodness.

Smoky? Heat? Tomatoey? Paprika? Garlic/onion?

This spice should be layered with the flavor of fresh tomatoes added to the taste of smokiness. When all else fails, it is best to go for canned chili that has a level of mild spiciness, and you can add your own heat later.

4. The Presence of Beans

Ah, beans. Almost no canned chili in the market exists without beans. However, this should certainly not discourage you from getting canned chili free from beans if that is what your heart absolutely desires.

However, having established the fact that almost chilis in the marker come with beans, it is safe to say that one important thing you have to check before buying is the presence of beans.

If you do decide that you want beans, remember to always stick to the rule of thumb. Beans must never be overcooked and must therefore not be lumpy.

Must-Know Before Buying Canned Chili 

In the event that you want to prolong the shelf life of your canned chili, it is probably best to place the contents in a freezer bag as storage. Place them inside the freezer. This should extend its life for about six months. 

  • When thawing, there are two primary rules to keep in mind. First, if you plan to consume it right away, then you may opt to thaw it with the use of a microwave or by submerging it underwater.
  • If, however, you want it to last for a few days then I suggest you thaw it in the refrigerator.
  • Always check the smell and appearance of the canned chili before consuming it. These are two factors that will greatly determine if the product has already gone bad.
  • If the odor has ammonia, the chances are it already has gone bad. Spots of mold? Don’t spoon them out—toss the whole thing.
  • We found a brand of low sodium chili: Amy’s Organic Medium-Heat Light in Sodium
  • The consistency of the canned chili must be thick but there has to be a balance. It should not be thin and runny to the point of imitating the consistency of soup. But there IS such a thing as chili soup. Here’s a Chili-Mac Soup recipe. Adjust to use your fave canned chili.
  • We encourage you to try your hand at making your own chili. It’s easy and you can choose all your favorite ingredients. 

Final Thoughts

It probably comes as no surprise that we consider Wolf Brand Chili Homestyle with beans to be the best-canned chili. This homestyle Texas recipe comes through in the flavor. It is a robust canned chili that is spicy but not too spicy. The texture of this chili feels right and hearty.

We appreciate that this chili is made out of pinto beans and doesn’t shy away from putting actual chunks of peppers and onions in the chili. It also has a great combo of beef and pork that brings together the heartiness perfectly.

So there you have it, guys! I hope this article really helped you on your journey to finding the canned chili for you! If you have any more questions, suggestions or just recommendations, do not hesitate to leave them down below! 🙂

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