Gluten Free Chili

Taste and discover how this simple recipe for gluten free chili is your next easy go-to meal idea. Whether it’s winter, spring, or fall, you can quickly get warmed up with a batch of this fully-flavored favorite. You won’t be disappointed with my tried and true Tex-Mex hearty stew. And if you don’t need to worry about eating gluten free foods – you’ll love it anyway!

Chili has got to be one of the most simple, most nutritious recipes to throw together. It contains basic ingredients that are easy to find and easy to store in your own kitchen, too.

Gluten free chili up close in green handled pot

Plus, chili is great anywhere, anytime.

Cook it up for a crowd with a fun chili bar spilling over with mix & match toppings ready for any palate.

…Or make a batch for your family to enjoy with enough leftovers for an upcoming busy night. The mouth-watering earthy flavors are always a hit because…

America Loves Chili Banner with American Flag background

My favorite memories of eating chili take me back to tailgating at Purdue football games. There is nothing like eating hot chili outside on a cool crisp fall day. 

Standing there in my black and gold with family and friends…crunchy orange and brown leaves swirling about…holding a hot bowl of chili in my mitten-covered hands – all before a Purdue win. GOOD times!

Enjoy this tasty chili inspired by my sister-in-law, Amy, who always makes things more fun!

How to Make Easy Gluten Free Chili

For step-by-step instructions on how to effortlessly assemble this chili recipe, see the recipe card below. 

Here’s a list of pantry-staple ingredients you’ll want to have on hand when its time to warm up with this tasty chili recipe:

Chili ingredients on chopboard: ground beef, canned chili beans and tomatoes, chopped onions, green peppers, and garlic, and seasonings
  • Browned Lean Ground Beef or Lean Ground Turkey – There are so many different ways to make chili. While my recipe is not vegetarian (but it can be – see FAQ for the vegetarian option!) it tastes fabulous with either beef or turkey. 
    • I actually usually make it with ground turkey – that’s the way my sister-in-law introduced it to me. Either way, browning it first helps to create a meatier-tasting chili throughout the dish. The key is to use lean ground beef or turkey, and I recommend using at least 93% lean varieties to help limit total fat and saturated fat. 
    • Also thoroughly draining the meat helps to remove extra unnecessary fat. See Recipe FAQ below for the best way to drain browned meat!
  • Onion, Green Bell Pepper, & Garlic, sautéed in Olive Oil – These veggies add a punch of flavor necessary for the tastiest chili, but you definitely want to sauté them first to draw out all the flavor they add to this recipe.
  • Chili Beans – I like to use canned chili beans that already have seasonings added to them. You can use mild, medium, or hot; I use mild here so it is not too hot for those who can’t tolerate the heat. You can always add hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or sliced jalapeño to kick it up to your personal liking. 
    • Please use special care when selecting chili beans; some canned beans add wheat as an ingredient and are NOT gluten free – so be sure to check the label! Bush’s Beans are clearly labeled gluten free. So helpful!
  • Crushed Tomatoes – I used canned crushed tomatoes in tomato puree to add a rich and thick tomato taste. This is the place where much of the flavor can mingle and develop as the chili comes together!
  • Diced Tomatoes (Chili Ready) – Adding diced tomatoes adds to the chunky allure sought after by many chili lovers. Plus, when your tomatoes are “chili ready” additional seasonings commonly found in chili are already infusing into your tomatoes!
  • Chili Powder – Did you know that “chili” powder and “Chile” powder are not the same? I decided to learn more about when I was looking at different spice bottles in my pantry. 
    • According to Southern Living and The Spice House, “Chile” powder is made from a specific Chile pepper, like chipotle or ancho, that has been dried and ground and has nothing else added to it. 
    • Conversely, “chili” powder is mostly a ground Chile pepper but is also blended with other spices, such as cumin, oregano, peppercorn, and sometimes salt – it depends on the brand. 
    • It is also very important to note that not all chili powders are gluten free or are made in facilities that are gluten free. Just be sure to check the label and/or check with the manufacturer! See *Ingredient note below!
  • Dried Oregano, Ground Cumin, & Celery Salt – Herein lies some of the warm earthy notes and edgy citrus and pungent peppery flavors that enliven this gluten free chili recipe. The celery salt has been coined by “some” as the secret ingredient that adds just a hint of freshness to the final product.
    • *Ingredient Note: I like using spices and seasonings from The Spice House; their chili powder and ground cumin do not contain added salt like many do on the market. In addition, all of the seasonings and spices used in this easy chili recipe do not contain gluten; they are just some of their many products that are gluten free, according to The Spice House Ingredient & Allergy Information page. 
    • And the few gluten-containing products they do offer come to their facility prepackaged so there is zero risk of cross-contact. YAY! I love knowing that peace when it comes to making gluten free foods!
  • Add Necessary Toppings – Optional or necessary? You decide! See next topic below.

What Toppings Make the Best Chili Even Better?

While this chili is excellent by itself, the contrast that comes from the toppings only enhances its earthy rich flavor. Whether you want to cool it off with something creamy, add fresh texture with raw crunch, or heat it up with something spicy, this list has it covered.

Gluten free chili in white bowl topping with shredded cheddar, diced onions, and a dollop of Greek yogurt
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Diced onion or sliced green onion
  • Diced avocado
  • Freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • Jalapeño slices – fresh or pickled
  • Plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream
  • Chopped bacon, lettuce, tomato

Alternate Ways to Serve This Delicious Chili

  • You don’t have to stick to the traditional bowl when it comes to serving this gluten free chili. Whether you eat it later for leftovers or the same day you make it, try some of these out-of-the-box serving ideas below. And don’t forget to add the toppings!
  • Serve on top of halved sweet potatoes for yummy Sweet Potato Chili Boats
  • Make Chili Dogs and place a scoop of chili on top of turkey dogs in a whole grain bun
  • Ladle a cup into a bowl of cheesy grits or Mac & cheese
  • Serve it on top of tortilla chips – tastier yet, sweet potato tortilla chips
  • Serve atop a bowl of roasted seasoned cauliflower florets
  • Try it at breakfast as a hearty bed for Chili Baked Eggs

Nutrition Benefits

  • This gluten free chili contains many whole food and minimally processed ingredients. Eating less processed foods overall allows you to reap more nutritional benefits from food as nature intended.
  • Homemade chili really can be a nutrition powerhouse. One reason chili can be so nutritious is because it is packed with both protein and fiber. That’s a win-WIN! 
  • Whether you choose to make this chili with lean ground turkey or lean ground beef, you are getting a good dose of protein from either one. Lean turkey or beef also provides zinc, iron, and B-vitamins
  • B-vitamins are important for all people. B-vitamin content is important to note for people following a gluten-free diet because they may not always get enough of these vitamins and could be deficient. This might be due to the fact that most gluten-containing grain products are enriched with B vitamins among others, but most gluten-free grain products are NOT.
  • The beans in this chili recipe add bonus vegetarian protein; that means it comes without cholesterol and saturated fat since it is not coming from an animal source.
  • Beans also provide healthy complex carbohydrates and fiber which can help lower cholesterol levels and keep the gut more regular. Beans also add more B-vitamins and iron…plus potassium, which is important for heart health.
  • Another reason why chili is so nutritious is because it can hold a lot of vegetables. Eating this gluten free chili will help you meet the USDA recommended two to three cups of vegetables per day for most adults. 
    • While a good portion of veggies in this chili come in the form of chili beans, onion, and bell pepper, it also contains a lot of canned tomatoes. 
    • Canned tomatoes contain a powerful phytochemical called lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that just so happens to become more bioavailable in tomatoes when they are cooked, which happens when a tomato gets processed into cans and jars. 
    • Being more bioavailable means your body can take it in and use more of the antioxidant than if you were to eat fresh tomatoes. So this is one example when a processed food can be beneficial – crazy I know!

Why Do Antioxidants Like Lycopene Matter?

  • Diets rich in antioxidants can help increase antioxidant levels in your blood, positioning your body to better fight unstable molecules called free radicals that can build up through normal body functioning. These free radicals can damage your body’s cells causing oxidative stress, which increases your risk for chronic disease.
  • Eating canned tomatoes can produce higher antioxidant blood levels, which in turn can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer! 

Recipe FAQ for Gluten Free Chili That’s Also Naturally Dairy Free CHili

Here are some common questions you may ask as you prepare this recipe:

Can I Make Vegan or Vegetarian Gluten Free Chili?

Yes you certainly can! Simply replace the ground beef or ground turkey one pound of plant-based burger and cook as directed in the recipe. You could omit the burger entirely and substitute it with an additional can of beans of your choice as well.

What’s the Best Way to Drain Browned Meat?

On a paper towel-lined layer of newspapers. I learned this trick from watching my mother make chili for our family and for the St. Joe-Spencerville Lions Club Food Tent at the DeKalb County Free Fall Fair year after year. She made a lot of chili back then! The recipe had ground beef in it, and the best way to drain it well was to pour out the cooked meat onto paper towel laying on top of a several folded sheets of newspaper. This method absorbs nearly all the excess grease easily without making a mess.
Cooked ground beef draining on paper towel lined newspaper with white spatula in upper right corner

Can I Make This Gluten Free Chili in the Crock Pot?

Oh, Yes, you sure can! Just brown the lean ground beef or turkey in a skillet and drain it just as directed in my recipe below. If you have time, sauté the veggies as written as well. Then simply add all the ingredients to your crock and cook it on high for 4-6 hours while you go about your business. Voila!

How Should I Store Leftover Chili?

Allow chili to cool away from the heat for 30 minutes. Pack leftovers in glass or plastic containers and chill in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Simply reheat on the stove or in the microwave until heated through and gently boiling until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Can I Freeze Gluten Free Chili?

Yes! Place cooled chili in plastic or freezer-safe glass containers and freeze for up to 4-6 months.

What to Serve with Gluten Free Chili

Like my recipe for Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup, this Chili is nearly a meal in a bowl all by itself. But to add more nutrition and balance, why not add a side salad of sorts and/or a bit of fruit? Mandarin oranges with sliced bananas anyone? Those two always seem to be a joy-filled treat in our house.

Have fruit-flavored seltzer water or low-fat milk ready to drink…and for you wine lovers, a glass of Malbec is a great wine to pair with this chili recipe!

Gluten free chili up close in white bowl with cilantro sprig in middle and shredded cheddar and sour cream to the sidetoppings to the side

Gluten Free Chili

Author: Julie Christensen
Taste and discover how this simple recipe for gluten free chili is your next easy go-to meal idea. Whether it’s winter, spring, or fall, you can quickly get warmed up with a batch of this fully-flavored Tex-Mex favorite!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: beans, chile, chili, gluten free chili
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 295kcal
Author: Julie Christensen

Equipment

  • Heavy pot

Ingredients

  • 1 pound 93% lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 2 (15.5 oz) cans chili beans check for gluten free*
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes chili ready with onions
  • 2 Tbsp medium chili powder check for gluten free*
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt

Instructions

  • In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, brown ground beef or ground turkey over medium heat. Break up to a fine crumble with a firm spatula until completely cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, prepare a disposable drain. Take a section of newspaper 4-5 sheets thick and fold into an 11-12-inch square; top it with a layer of paper towel. Set aside.
  • When ground meat is cooked through, carefully pour the contents from the pot out onto the prepared paper towel drain, spreading meat out evenly to drain grease thoroughly. Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in the same pot over medium-low heat. Saute onion and bell pepper for 3-4 minutes to soften. Add in minced garlic and saute an additional minute.
  • Return browned meat to the pot, stirring to combine. Pour in canned beans (undrained) and tomatoes (undrained), scraping all contents into the pot with a scraper; add all remaining spices. Fill one can about 3/4 full with water, swirl to rinse, and pour into the other three cans to get as much of the seasonings as possible. Pour this water into the pot and stir well to combine.
  • Bring chili to a boil and reduce to simmer, cooking on the stove for at least 15 minutes. At this point, you can do one of three things. You can serve it, but chili tastes best if it cooks longer. You may also wish to simmer this chili on the stove uncovered for 1-2 hours; or you can transfer it to a slow cooker, cooking on low for 4 hours or more if desired.
  • Ladle chili into bowls and serve topped with shredded cheddar, diced onions, fresh cilantro leaves, jalapeno slices, and plain yogurt or sour cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

*Check labels to ensure they are gluten free. I used The Spice House Medium Chili Powder and Bush’s Beans in this recipe. Please read “Ingredient Note” and “Chili Beans” in the How to Make Gluten Free Chili above for added information.
Cooking, Storage, Substitution and Serving Tips: Please see FAQ in blog post above for tips.

Your Own Notes

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 667mg | Potassium: 874mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 687IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 143mg | Iron: 4mg

I hope you love the chili as much as we do. When you try this chili recipe, please consider leaving a recipe rating and comment below!

Try My Other Soup Recipes!

Gluten Free Tomato Soup

Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup

Don’t forget to pin this post to save for later AND to share with others!

Gluten free chili in two white bowls with toppings to the side pinterest graphic

Tell me: What’s your favorite simple soup to make?

Julie Christensen

Julie Christensen, RD, LD is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with over eleven years of experience in the field of dietetics, specializing in Wellness and Disease Prevention, Heart Health, Weight Management, and Celiac Disease. She holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, Fitness, & Health as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

2 thoughts on “Gluten Free Chili”

  1. 5 stars
    My entire family absolutely loves this recipe (less the green peppers)! Try it with fire roasted tomatoes. So delicious!!

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