The Best Canned Chili: Our Taste Test Reveals There's Only One Worth Trying

There's really only one worth trying. Sigh.

Chili is the quintessential winter warm-up food, and whether it's vegetarian or made for meat eaters, one thing is clear: it's always better homemade (these are our favorite homemade chili recipes, for the record).

Canned beef chili must have its merits, as proven by the fact that Hormel has been in business since 1891. But to be honest, it reminds us a lot of dog food. Just to make sure it's not actually dog food, let's compare the ingredients of the two:

Purina: Water sufficient for processing, poultry, liver, meat by-products, beef, soy flour, rice, carrots, peas, salt, guar gum, potassium chloride, added color, sodium tripolyphosphate, calcium phosphate, carrageenan, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin A supplement, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, potassium iodide, biotin, sodium selenite. B-5250

Hormel: Water, beef, textured vegetable protein (soy flour, caramel color), chili powder, corn flour, oatmeal, concentrated crushed tomatoes, contains 2% or less of jalapeño peppers, sugar, flavoring, hydrolyzed soy, corn and wheat protein, salt, yeast extract, modified cornstarch, spices, oleoresin of paprika.

"Meat by-products" and a boatload of unpronounceable additives make dog food the clear loser here. Now that we've got it straight that canned chili is indeed NOT dog food, it's time to find out who does the best job of making it for humans.

We gathered a panel of editors (all humans) and blind-tasted 11 different kinds of canned beef chili (sorry, vegetarians, but we're going classic with this taste test). Our tasters ranked each chili from best to worst, commenting on the taste, texture and overall impression of each putrid chili. Some were good, some were bad ... but in the end, there was really only one that was pleasant. Find out which one it was in the results below!

As always, this taste test was in no way influenced by the brands included.

#11: Hormel Chili: No Beans
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "I miss the beans! This is like dog food." "Too wet and soupy." "This tastes like something I'd eat on an airplane." "Tastes like Spaghetti-O's with no pasta." "This is not chili. It's sweet meat sauce."
#10: Trader Joe's Beef Chili With Beans
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "SO SWEET. No thanks. Too tomatoey." "Extremely sweet. Is this ketchup?" "Sugar. All sugar."
#9: Hormel Cook-Off Series: Texas Brand
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "Pureed texture, which I don't like, but decent flavor." "Smoky!" "Bland. Someone drop some chili powder in this." "Texture is oddly gloppy. SO salty." "It's basically meat sauce."
#8: Campbell's Chunky: Firehouse
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "Chewy and bland ground beef." "Bland, but not offensive." "Totally blah. Edible but boring." "Tastes stale, like cardboard with chili powder." "At least it has beans?"
#7: Campbell's Chunky: Bean & Bean Roadhouse
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "No spice. Where is it?" "Stale tasting, but with admirable beefiness." "Solid chili flavor. Not special, but not awful." "Tastes exactly like Chef Boyardee ravioli, but without the pasta."
#6: Campbell's Chunky: Hot & Spicy Beef & Bean Firehouse
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "There's no spice in this at all." "Very hamburgery, like White Castle." "Ugh. Watery dog food with tomato juice." "Bland, soupy." "Nothing memorable."
#5: Hormel Cook-Off Series: Roasted Tomato
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "Boring." "A little heavy-handed on the tomato and sugar." "A little too sweet." "Needs more spice."
#4: Hormel Chili: Hot With Beans
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "Love this. Creamy, savory, well-balanced, good kick." "Is this chili candy? Too sweet." "Tons of cumin, not much else." "Nice texture, but it's way too sweet at first."
#3: Hormel Chili: Chunky With Beans
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "The chunks of beef actually feel like good-textured meat. Tastes almost homemade." "Rich bean flavor. Nice, savory, balanced." "Love the big chunks of meat." "Not offensive." "If you're averse to the texture of cat food, this might bother you."
#2: Campbell's Chunky: Roadhouse
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "Definitely decent." "Probably the least offensive, but pretty bland." "I like the amount of veggies, but not enough salt."
#1: Hormel Cook-Off Series: Southwest Style (RECOMMENDED)
Raydene Salinas/The Huffington Post
Comments: "Great kick, and even though I don't want corn in my chili, this tastes so much better than the others." "Bright, natural flavors and serious spice." "Spicy! I like the corn." "Unique flavor, hearty chunks, great spice." "Just wonderful."

Want to read more from HuffPost Taste? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Support HuffPost

Before You Go

Chili Con Carne

Chili Recipes

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.

Go to Homepage

Popular in the Community


Gift Guides