I reviewed five kinds of canned chili from the supermarket to find the best convenient option.
The meat-free version of Amy's was quite tasty, but the Campbell's Chunky chili mac was my favorite.
Still, none of these canned versions held a candle to homemade chili.
Chili is a classic and hearty meal, and the canned versions can be superconvenient.
Chili is warm, comforting, and filling, but it requires a fair amount of chopping and simmering to build the complex flavors. So canned options offer a cheap and convenient way to enjoy the classic meal.
I taste tasted five kinds of canned chili — Hormel, Wolf Brand, Amy's, Campbell's Chunky, and the Campbell's brand Well Yes — to find the best option.
I decided to compare versions with beans for consistency's sake, and I heated up each chili in the microwave, following the instructions on the respective cans.
Read on to see how these canned chilis stacked up.
Hormel's take had what I'd consider a classic, canned-chili taste.
When I think of canned chili, I think of Hormel's, so I tried it first as a control, of sorts.
I followed the instructions on the can and warmed up the chili in a microwave-safe bowl for two to three minutes, stirring halfway through.
Hormel's chili was the most bean-forward.
Pretty much each bite was beans. Plus the flavor was very mild, and I couldn't pick up much spice.
Wolf Brand's chili had a smoother consistency and a lot more spices.
I needed to take out my can opener for this chili, as it was the only one without a convenient pull tab.
Upon taking it out of the microwave after two minutes, I noticed a skin had formed on top of the chili. Fortunately, when I mixed it in, it didn't seem to affect the texture or flavor.
This option was also much smoother than Hormel's. I could see this pairing well with cheese for a delicious chili dip.
I didn't even notice the Amy's chili was meat-free.
This meat-free take on chili has bits of tofu in it, but it's so convincing I didn't realize it was vegetarian until reading the can afterward.
It was the best-looking chili of the bunch, sporting a thin, pourable consistency. I heated it up in the microwave for two minutes.
I could smell and taste the bell peppers, which gave the chili a nice, bright profile. There was a lightness to the flavor and texture that I also enjoyed.
The Amy's take had a more homemade taste to it. It's labeled as a medium chili, but I didn't find it too spicy, despite having a low tolerance.
The Campbell's Chunky chili mac was surprisingly good.
Faced with limited options at the supermarket, I decided to throw this chili mac into the mix.
Like Amy's chili, this Campbell's Chunky meal had a pourable consistency and was easy to transfer into a microwave-safe bowl. I heated it up for 2 1/2 minutes.
This chili tasted better than it looked.
The macaroni offered a surprisingly nice texture. Unlike some of the other options, which had a bean-forward flavor, the soft pasta made for a lighter bite that required less chewing.
It was also the first chili I taste-tested that had a noticeable tomato flavor.
It wasn't gourmet by any means, but for canned chili it was pretty decent and had a nice, mellow taste.
The Campbell's Well Yes veggie chili would make a solid on-the-go option.
This soup comes in a microwave-safe bowl, which is convenient to take on the go.
I heated it up for a minute and 15 seconds and gave it a stir before digging in. The plastic lid was a little tricky to remove without touching the hot metal rim or spilling the chili.
It was the spiciest of the ones I tried, but not overpoweringly so.
None of these canned options compared to the rich flavor of homemade chili, but some were decently tasty.
If you're a passionate chili fan, chances are the canned variety won't impress you. As found in this taste test, these options generally sacrifice flavor and texture for convenience.
I know pasta isn't a traditional ingredient in chili, but let's face it: None of these canned versions held a candle to the homemade stuff.
For a microwaveable meal, the chili mac was pretty tasty. It's the one I'd actually want to eat again.
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