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If you like your chili seriously hot, this hot chili recipe is for you. For an even bigger kick, use the whole teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Diabetic Living Magazine; updated January 2023


Credit: Christine Ma

Recipe Summary

20 mins
50 mins

How to Make Kickin' Hot Chili

Research suggests that capsaicin, the compound in chile peppers that gives them their heat, can boost your metabolism. If you're a fan of this metabolism-boosting sensation, you'll love this easy hot chili recipe. (And if you don't, we'll tell you how to tone it down!) Here's how you make Kickin' Hot Chili:

Cook the Meat and Vegetables

To build the flavor we start with mild ingredients. Lean ground beef, onions, bell peppers and bottled garlic all cook together to add a rich, complex flavor that can cut through the heat. Bell peppers don't add spice, but they do add flavor. Green bell peppers are less sweet than red, but they offer a splash of color. Which one you choose is up to your personal preference. We call for bottled garlic here which offers a more muted flavor than fresh. (Plus, it cuts down on the chopping!) If you want to use fresh, three large cloves will be enough. Depending on how lean your beef is, you may have to drain off some fat from the pan before you add the remaining ingredients. If you want to skip this step, we recommend using 90% lean or leaner beef.

Stir in the Beans

Canned beans offer fiber and a neutralizing flavor to the dish. We call for a mix of kidney beans and great Northern beans, but any canned beans such as pinto beans or black beans will work well too. Be sure to give them a rinse before you add them to wash off some of the sodium. If you're watching your sodium intake, using no-salt-added beans can reduce the sodium amount even further.

Add More Flavor

To give the chili a flavor boost and a thicker texture, we add mustard and tomato paste. Mustard offers a horseradish-like bite and a hint of vinegar while tomato paste thickens the chili and adds sweetness. Ground cumin, which appears often in chili, adds an earthy flavor. For a stronger cumin flavor, grind your own cumin seeds in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Bring On the Heat

The rest of the ingredients add heat to the chili. Canned tomatoes with green chiles, chili powder, ground black pepper and cayenne all add varying amounts of heat to the chili. If you want to really turn things up, use hot chili powder and the full amount of cayenne pepper. Also, make sure your spices are fresh. If they've been on the shelf for longer than two years, they begin to lose their heat and flavor.

How to Make Chili Milder

There are ways to stop your mouth from burning when you eat spicy food. But if you want to cut down on the heat or take it out entirely, you can with some easy substitutions. Opt for plain canned tomatoes without green chilis and choose mild chili powder. You can add just a pinch of cayenne, or leave it out.

Additional reporting by Hilary Meyer 


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, cook ground beef, onions, bell pepper and garlic until the meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain off fat.

  • Stir in the water, beans, undrained tomatoes and chiles, tomato paste, mustard, salt, chili powder, black pepper, cayenne and cumin. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Nutrition Facts

1 serving
253 calories; protein 22.2g; carbohydrates 25.4g; dietary fiber 6.7g; sugars 8.1g; fat 8.8g; saturated fat 3.2g; cholesterol 54.4mg; vitamin a iu 1009IU; vitamin c 27.1mg; folate 14.4mcg; calcium 79.8mg; iron 4mg; magnesium 26.3mg; potassium 621.6mg; sodium 320.2mg.