Light Chili

This is a fairly simple, lighter version of the classic recipe for chili. With lean ground beef, and doubling up on the beans, you are cutting down on fat, without cutting out flavor! All those spices make it vibrant and provide that signature chili flavor. You can tone down or turn up the heat by adding more or less of the chili powder and cayenne pepper. I prefer it spicy with some light sour cream and low-fat cheese on the side to balance the heat.

Because it’s easy to prepare and stores well in the refrigerator overnight, it’s a great dish to serve your guests. Serve alongside some cornbread and light salad and you have a light, very flavorful meal!

Ingredients (6-8 servings)

  • 2 ounces of Canadian bacon, diced small*

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (96% lean or up, ground turkey or bison can be substituted)

  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp chili powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika

  • 1/2 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you are sensitive to spice)

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed fire-roasted tomatoes or regular crushed tomatoes

  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef stock

  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) low-sodium black beans, drained

Low-fat sour cream, sliced scallions, and/or grated low-sodium cheddar for topping

*Turkey bacon can also be used in place of Canadian bacon.


1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil. Once hot, add the Canadian bacon and onions and cook just until onions and bacon begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir while cooking. Then, lower heat, stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute.

2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add ground beef, turkey or bison. Break up the meat with a spoon and stir gently until it loses its pink color, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the spices, tomato sauce, tomatoes, beef stock, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially and cook 30 minutes.

3. Add drained beans and cook 10 minutes, uncovered. Serve warm, with toppings on the side.

The chili also freezes well, but if planning to freeze, don’t add the beans. Add the beans once you reheat the chili.

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