Supermarket Standoff: Canned chili

Bon Appetit

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Best chili

(Photograph by Wikipedia user Ram Man)

Chili: the stuff of football games, camping, and winter hibernation. For many, this hearty stew comes from a can. Which is fine! Sure, there are a multitude of simple, delicious chili recipes, but we understand that sometimes it's just easier to pour the ready-made stuff right into a pan, heat, and serve. It'll be ready faster than you can say "30-pack of Bud Light."

That being said, we have our standards. So we did a taste test of eight vegetarian and non-vegetarian chilis to see which are tops in flavor and which are the healthiest choices. So go ahead, indulge in some dinner from a can. Just make sure you open the right one.

Our Favorites for Flavor

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#1 Campbell's Chunky Chili with Beans

Nutrition: One serving (1 cup/240mL) = 220 calories, 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 870mg sodium, 27g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 8g sugars, 15g protein, 10% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 10% iron.

Ingredients: Water, tomato puree (water, tomato paste), kidney beans, beef, seasoned beef (beef, salt, spice extract), red peppers. Contains less than 2% of: Modified food starch, green peppers, spice, soy protein concentrate, salt, dehydrated onions, sugar, dehydrated garlic, paprika-caramel color. Contains traces of wheat.

Cost: $4.19 at The Food Emporium in New York City

Blind Tasting Notes: "Good flavor, texture"; "Tastes kind of like canned tomato sauce, which I happen to like"; "Good meaty flavor".

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#2 Amy's Organic Medium Chili

Nutrition: One serving (1 cup/260g) = 280 calories, 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 860mg sodium, 35g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 5g sugars, 15g protein, 15% vitamin A, 6% calcium, 25% vitamin C, 20% iron.

Ingredients: Organic red beans, filtered water, organic onions, organic tofu (filtered water, organic soybeans, nigari [magnesium chloride, a natural firming agent]), organic bell peppers, organic sweet rice flour, organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic garlic, organic spices, organic jalapeno peppers, sea salt. Contains soy.

Cost: $3.99 at The Food Emporium in New York City

Blind Tasting Notes: "Has a kick to it"; "Beans dominate"; "Green beans in chili?"; "Funky"

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#3 Hormel Chili with Beans

Nutrition: One serving (1 cup/247g) = 260 calories, 7g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 900mg sodium, 33g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 5g sugars, 16g protein, 10% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 6% calcium, 15% iron.

Ingredients: Water, beef, beans, concentrated crushed tomatoes. Contains 2% or less of: Corn flour, textured vegetable protein (soy flour, caramel color), salt, chili powder (chili peppers, flavoring), flavoring, sugar, starch (modified cornstarch, cornstarch), spices, green chiles (contains citric acid), onions, jalapeno peppers (contains vinegar).

Cost: $2.99 at The Food Emporium in New York City

Blind Tasting Notes: "Good bean/liquid ratio"; "Smoky flavor"; "Too sweet"; "Has a nice bite to it"; "Hot doggy".

Nutritionist Marissa Lippert's Picks

Comments from Lippert: "I weeded things out by looking at the sodium content, the ingredients and then calories--most were right around 200 calories per 1 cup serving. My top picks all have lower than 600 mg sodium per serving and are the most straightforward with natural and/or organic ingredients...and they get a good dose of vegetables in there, which never hurt anyone."

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#1 Amy's Medium Chili with Vegetables

Nutrition: One Serving (1 cup/240ml) = 190 calories, 6g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 590mg sodium, 29g total carbs, 8g fiber, 6g sugars, 7g protein, 70% vitamin A, 4% calcium, 30% vitamin C, 10% iron.

Ingredients: Organic red beans, organic onions, filtered water, organic bell peppers, organic potatoes, organic carrots, organic corn, organic rice flour, organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic jalapeno peppers, organic spices, organic garlic, sea salt, organic black pepper. 
Cost: $3.99 at The Food Emporium in New York City.

Our Assessment: This came in fourth on our list, so it's not a horrible option, taste-wise.

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#2 Trader Joe's Organic Vegetarian Chili

Nutrition: One serving (1 cup/245g) = 190 calories, 6g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 590mg sodium, 26g carbs, 7g fiber, 5g sugar, 8g protein, 15% vitamin A, 6% calcium, 25% vitamin C, 20% iron.

Ingredients: Organic red beans, filtered water, organic onions, organic tofu (water, organic soybeans, nigari), organic bell peppers, organix sweet rice flour, organic jalapeno peppers, organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, spices, organic garlic, sea salt.

Cost: $2.19 at Trader Joe's in New York City

Our Assessment: This one tied for fourth, actually, so same goes: not too shabby.

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#3 Health Valley Organic Vegetarian Chili

Nutrition: One serving (1 cup/245g) = 200 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 37g carbs, 8g fiber, 8g sugar, 11g protein, 10% vitamin A, 15% calcium, 30% vitamin C, 20% iron.

Ingredients: Filtered water, organic tomatoes, organic onions, organic tomato paste, organic kidney beans, organic black beans, organic pinto beans, organic soy protein, organic evaporated cane juice, organic corn starch, natural flavor, organic garlic powder, organic expeller pressed canola oil, sea salt, organic grain vinegar, organic spices, organic chipotle pepper, ascorbic acid.

Cost: $3.99 at the Food Emporium in New York City

Our Assessment: People thought this was too tomato-y and a bit like plastic.

More from Bon Appetit:

10 Snacks You Thought Were Healthy But Really Aren't

Spring Pasta Recipes

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

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