What's Better?: Chili without or Chili with Beans?

What’s Better?: Chili without or Chili with Beans?

As the summer gets closer and closer, you may be starting to think about upcoming traditions with family and friends. What better way to heat up summer time than with a chili cook off? One of the great aspects of a chili cook off is how diverse each chili bowl can be, depending on the taste and style of the cook

Before you start inviting everyone over to your backyard, consider first this seemingly innocent question: does chili work better with beans or without? If you think you know the answer right off, take a few moments to consider each side of the argument. 

Although the spiciness of chili may vary, beans are almost intrinsically tied to the image of chili. I know many of my vegetarian friends find the natural protein in beans to be a ubiquitous ingredient in meatless chili. Also, using an assortment of different types of beans, such as chickpeas or navy beans, can dramatically set your chili apart from others.

Despite the popularity of bean based chilis, many people can be turned off of chili that contains beans. A common complaint I’ve heard from older folks is that beans can be quite tough on the digestion system, often leaving them feeling gassy and bloated.

People sensitive to migraines may also have concerns about the oils found in some beans. My mother suffers from acute headaches, and finds that pinto beans can on occasion trigger a migraine. Some people will find that they simply don’t like the taste or texture of beans in their food. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to realize that some people just don’t care for beans.

If the idea of chili without beans still strikes you as odd, consider Cincinnati chili as an example. Cincinnati chili is traditionally made without beans, and has a distinctly sweeter aftertaste than most other chilies. Cincinnati is known as being the world headquarters of chili so if they can make it without beans, so can you.

It is important to remember after all to have fun when cooking. I encourage you to try something different for you next chili cook out, and my guess is you’ll be surprisingly pleased with what you produce.


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