Take your chili game up a (healthy-ish) notch with this veggie packed, no bean twist! Our Healthy Chili features a rainbow of colorful vegetables and just enough ground beef to please even the most carnivorous chili-lover in your life. Loaded with nutrient dense real foods, no bean chili is great for game days, meal prep, or any hungry crowd.
Chili dogs aside (and y’all know that’s not chili-chili, right?) I always think of it as part of the stew family, and like many of my other favorite comfort foods, I only really need them after the last of the giant corn bins has been brought into the back room until next summer.
Then, all bets are off. Which is also why I health-ified several of my favorite comfort foods like loaded cauliflower soup, Whole30 beef stew, spaghetti squash casserole, and low carb sausage and peppers. The regular rotation of food-coma favorites can lead to the regular rotation of stretch pants in my wardrobe. Balance is key – in the kitchen, and life too.
Take this healthy chili recipe. I am not a fan of sacrificing flavor, and while there are plenty of heavy lifts ground chicken or turkey can make, chili isn’t high on that list. I can pass on added dairy in my chili, but the flavor and fat from beef makes all the difference to my tastebuds. Let’s learn how to make a flexitarian chili recipe that fit into a healthier lifestyle!
What Makes this Chili Recipe Healthy?
You may be used to simply swapping out the beef for ground turkey and calling it “good for you,” but I promise, there’s a better way. And that way is with vegetables.
I know many of us are accustomed to making chili with beans because they’re economical and can bulk up the recipe while adding more protein, but honestly, you’ve got all the protein you need from the beef and who needs the added… um, discomfort.
Sweet potatoes are brilliant for bulk thanks to a healthy dose of fiber (pun intended) and are loaded with antioxidants. And speaking of loading up, this Whole30 friendly recipe also boasts celery, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of peppers for more bulk and more balanced nutrition.
Oh, and if you’re concerned about sodium, carbs, and fillers, skip the seasoning packet and make your own homemade chili seasoning (included in the recipe card below). It’s easy, frugal, and so much healthier.
How to Make Healthy Chili without Beans
Everybody loves a classic no bean chili with chunks of ground beef swimming in tomatoes and spices…but your body will like you so much more when you add plenty of nutrient-dense fresh vegetables. Our Healthy No-Bean Chili Recipe brings big bold flavor to the table in about 1 hour.
- In a dutch oven, saute onion, celery, and bell peppers in olive oil until soft.
- Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink; gently break into small pieces with a wood spoon while it cooks.
- Stir in jalapeno, garlic, tomato paste, and seasonings; cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes to allow the spices to bloom and to work off the canned flavor from the tomato paste.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, beef broth, and diced sweet potato. Give everything a good stir, then top with a bay leaf.
- Simmer uncovered for at least 45 minutes (longer if covered!), stirring occasionally to prevent scalding.
- Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite garnishes.
- Avoid a chunky mess! Be sure to finely dice the vegetables.
- Take a few extra minutes to toast the spices (see step 3 above), instead of throwing them in with the liquids. This really enhances the finished flavor.
- Keep the jalapeno seeds or double the jalapeños for a very spicy chili.
- Similarly, adjust the heat level by using more or less chili powder. I recommend at least two tablespoons and you can scale up to four.
- Chili needs to simmer at least 45 minutes – the liquid will evaporate as it simmers, creating that thick, rich chili texture you know and love. More importantly, this simmering time really allows the flavors to develop.
- For an even more complex flavor, simmer up to 2 hours. When doing so, be sure to partially cover the dutch oven, leaving a small crack for steam to escape, otherwise the liquids will evaporate too quickly and you’ll end up with sad, scalded chili.
Can I Make this in a Crockpot?
Yes! Follow these instructions:
- Saute the ground beef in a 10″ skillet over medium high heat until no longer pink.
- Add the garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and paprika; cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomato paste has been worked completely into the ground beef.
- Transfer the mixture to your slower cooker.
- Add the onion, celery, bell peppers, jalapeno, crushed tomatoes, beef broth, sweet potato, kosher salt, and bay leaf. Give everything a good stir.
- Cook on low for at least 6 hours, and up to 8.
Storing and Freezing
In the Fridge: Store no bean chili in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Honestly, it’s even better the second day, so technically this is a make-ahead recipe. You’re welcome!
Freezer: Cooked sweet potatoes in a soup, stew, or chili aren’t ideal for freezing – they tend to turn to must after defrosting. There are two options for preparing this recipe for freezing that work best:
- Option 1: Cook the recipe fully, but leave out the sweet potatoes. Then, add raw diced sweet potatoes to the cooked chili and freeze. Once defrosted and rewarmed on the stove, they’ll cook through fairly quickly .
- Option 2: Cook as directed and leave out the sweet potatoes entirely. Freeze as directed below, then defrost and add raw sweet potatoes; simmer in the chili until the potatoes are cooked through.
Otherwise, to freeze, seal in an airtight container for up to 3 months; defrost chili in the fridge overnight, then reheat over medium heat on the stove or in 30-60 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in-between. This healthy chili recipe is perfect for portion freezing!
Did you make this healthy beef chili? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Healthy Chili with Ground BeefPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced to ½"
- 2 stalks celery, diced to ½"
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced to ½"
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced to ½"
- 1 lb ground beef, use 80/20 for best results, up to 90/10
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced; see Note 1
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2-4 tbsp chili powder, see Note 2
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 14.5-oz can crushed tomatoes, see Note 3
- 2 c beef broth
- 1 large sweet potato, (about 12 oz), diced to ½"
- 1 bay leaf
- Diced avocado
- Chopped red onion
- Fresh cilantro
- Sliced jalapenos
- Sliced green onions
- Heat a 6-quart dutch oven over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until it shimmers. Add onion, celery, and bell peppers and toss to coat in the fat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and the onions turn translucent, 7-9 minutes.
- Add ground beef and cook, stirring with a wood spoon to break into pieces, until the beef is no longer pink, 3-4 minutes.
- Add jalapeno, garlic, tomato paste, spices (chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika) and salt. Stir continuously with a wood spoon until the tomato paste is worked into the vegetables and the spices are toasted and very fragrant, 2 minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes, beef broth and diced sweet potato. Give everything a good stir, then top with the bay leaf.
- Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes until the chili is thick and the flavors have melded (see Note 4); stir occasionally to prevent scalding. Taste for flavor and seasoning and simmer an additional 10 minutes if flavors have not fully developed, and/or adjust with additional salt as necessary.
- Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite garnishes. Enjoy!
- Note 1. Keep the jalapeno seeds or double the jalapeños for a spicier chili.
- Note 2. Further adjust the heat level by using more or less chili powder, or adding the red pepper flakes. I recommend at least two tablespoons of chili powder and up to four; start with ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes.
- Note 3. We always prefer fire-roasted tomatoes for best flavor, and specifically the Muir Glen brand. If you cannot find crushed tomatoes, substitute with one can diced tomatoes blended until smooth.
- Note 4. Chili needs to simmer at least 45 minutes for best flavor and texture. For an even more complex flavor, simmer for up to 2 hours. If doing so, partially cover the dutch oven, leaving a small crack for steam to escape, to prevent the liquid from evaporating too quickly.