What Kinds of Beans Go in Chili?

Just about any kind of bean can go in chili, but the traditional choice is kidney beans. However, if you don’t like kidney beans, feel free to use whichever kind you do like. Just keep in mind that since chili simmers for so long, you need to choose ingredients that can handle prolonged exposure to heat without turning into mush. Smaller beans, like navy beans, won’t hold up as well as larger beans do, so plan your cooking time accordingly if you choose to use them.

Some of the best kinds of beans to put in chili are:

  • Kidney Beans: These are the most popular beans for chili and are sometimes called “chili beans” for that reason. Kidney beans add a rich and hearty texture to any chili recipe.
  • Black Beans: These beans are a common staple in chili as well as in Mexican and Creole dishes. While they’re smaller than kidney beans, black beans are just as dense, which means they hold up well to heat for long periods of time while adding a rich flavor that blends well with the other ingredients.
  • Pinto Beans: Like black beans, pinto beans are significant components in Mexican and Spanish dishes. They add a creamier and softer texture with a subtle earthy flavor that can really make a chili pop. While they can retain their structure after cooking for long periods of time, it’s best to add them closer to the end of the cooking process so they don’t break down in the chili.
Chuck 'The Chili Guy' Miller

Hey I'm Chuck "The Chili Guy" Miller. Chili is my passion so I have expertly crafted my list of tried and true award worthy chili recipes that will warm your soul. My gift to you from one chili connoisseur to another. - Chuck

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