Gluten-Free Chili

From the Frontier to the Forefront of American Cooking

bowl of chili


Frontier cowboys may lay claim to chili's popularity throughout today's suburban kitchens, but the inspired mingling of meat, beans, and spicy peppers in a stewpot dates back to the Incan, Aztec, and Mayan civilizations of the pre-Columbian Americas.

Texans omit the beans in classic chili con carne, New Mexicans opt for pork and Hatch chilis in chile verde, and white chili bucks convention with poultry and navy beans. Whether you opt for the Lone Star approach or remain open to contemporary interpretations, chili belongs on your gluten-free menu. These dishes very filling and they are especially helpful for people with wheat sensitivities or allergies because they don't need thickeners, flours, or bread of any kind to have great texture and flavor.

Don't miss the chance to make one of our suggestions. A bowl of simple white rice or steamed quinoa is a great side. Add some avocado slices and salsa and you've got yourself a filling dinner.

  • 01 of 07

    Black Bean Chili

    Black Bean Chili
    Use leftover brisket to enhance a bean chili.

    Phoebe Lapine / Getty Images


    This vegan preparation is ready in 35 minutes and uses canned beans and tomatoes for a super convenient weeknight dinner. Simply sauteé some onions, add the beans, tomatoes, and spices, and simmer for 20 minutes, or longer if you have the time to achieve a thicker texture.

    This combination of flavors makes a basic chile. Starting with this recipe, you can add more vegetables, combine two or three types of beans, or add cubed potatoes, plantains, or a cooked gluten-free grain like rice or quinoa.

    Serve with rice or tortilla chips. For extra convenience, buy jarred salsa and pre-made guacamole and enjoy a Mexican-inspired meal.

  • 02 of 07

    Spicy Buffalo Chili

    Close up of pot of beef chili
    Image Studios / Getty Images

    This recipe dates back to the frontier days when trail cooks used whatever they could shoot, trap, or capture to feed their hungry cowboys. Buffalo earns acclaim today as a tastier and alternative to beef, and this tasty dish is here to prove it. Although many think beans don't belong in a chili, this recipe uses them. You can skip them if you don't want them or have legume sensitivities.

    The secret spice in our recipe is cinnamon, which seems an unorthodox addition, but its pungent flavor pairs extremely well with the meaty buffalo and gives the whole dish a new flavor dimension.

    If you're using beans, the chili requires 15 more minutes to cook.

  • 03 of 07


    Low carb chili recipe

    ​The Spruce

    This recipe tweaks the standard meat-to-beans ratio, with 5 pounds of ground beef and only one small can of pinto beans. The result isn't meat-only but with so few beans there's just a pleasant "blink and you might miss it" hint of earthy flavor.

    The chili simmers for 1 hour and an additional 15 minutes if you choose to use beans. Although it yields 12 servings, the portions can be smaller and feed up to 15 if you make a chili bar and offer toppings like crispy tortillas, rice, guacamole, salsa, corn, shredded cheese, cream, cilantro, and lime wedges.

  • 04 of 07

    Spicy Four-Alarm TVP Chili

    Crock Pot Black Bean Chili

    This chili cooks the beans in an old-fashioned way, first soaking them overnight and then in a gentle simmer. The combination of fiery salsa, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and chili powder makes the dish a true sense-awakener, and the vegetable protein (TVP) gives it a hearty, chewy, and delightful texture.

    Although gluten-free, the recipe contains soy from the TVP. Serve with crispy tortilla chips or rice, and a generous serving of creamy guacamole to tone down the alarm-buzzing heat of the chili. For dairy-eaters, offer sour cream to put on top.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Spicy Freezer Chili

    Chunky Turkey Chili
    Chunky Turkey Chili. Brian Hagiwara/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    If you like to prepare ahead for the long months of winter, this dish freezes fantastically and reheats as flavorful and fresh-tasting as if it was straight from the stove. The recipe is no-hassle and very straight-forward, so if you're not a confident cook rest assured this one is going to turn out well.

    Cook your beef with onions and spices, add kidney beans and simmer with tomato sauce and water until the liquid has reduced a little and the chili has come together, for about 1 hour. If you're freezing, don't add cornstarch, but rather use a mixture of it and water when you're reheating it.

    Serve with quesadillas and guacamole.

  • 06 of 07

    Chicken Chili Stew

    chicken chili stew with tomatoes

     Diana Rattray

    Made with lean cubed chicken breast, this chili gets its sunny brightness from corn and lime juice.

    The stew comes together in under 40 minutes, so besides being delicious it's very convenient. The corn kernels and beans give it a rich texture, but feel free to add more vegetables like peppers and zucchinis.

    Garnish with sour cream, chopped red onion, and fresh cilantro. Serve with cornbread and avocados.

  • 07 of 07

    Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

    Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
    The Spruce.

    Sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, and black beans add antioxidant power and texture to this vegetarian chili. Adjust the heat level to your preference, though the potatoes and carrots add a dash of sweetness to temper an assertive amount of spice.

    Ready in 35 minutes, this recipe uses canned beans and tomatoes. Serve with brown rice and top with shredded cheese and fresh cilantro.