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The Best-Tasting & Worst-Tasting Supermarket Chilis

See if any could stand up against mom's homemade recipe.
The Best-Tasting & Worst-Tasting Supermarket Chilis
Ann Marie Langrehr

There's nothing better than a hot bowl of home-cooked chili. Well, maybe one with a mound of melty cheese and some bread for dipping, or some piled on top of a hot potato with some sour cream. This hearty dish is just what everyone needs as the temperatures drop and you want to warm up from the inside out. There's no doubt that chili is a quintessential comfort food staple. But can that comforting taste you know from home be replicated from a supermarket chili?

When you don't feel like dusting off your crock-pot, slow cooker, or standing over the stove till you get your recipe just right, a can is a great way to have a hot and hearty meal on the table in little to no time. We went out and searched our local supermarket shelves to see if any canned chilis could outshine mom's classic recipe, or if they just all resemble dog food. Here are the best–and worst—supermarket chilis we found.

How We Graded Them

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A good chili is thick, chunky, and full of flavor with just the right hint of spice. Nothing too soupy, spicy, or bland made it far with our taste testers. We graded each supermarket chili based on the flavor of each ingredient, the texture of the beans/meat, and whichever warmed our bellies (and hearts) with the most nostalgia came out on top.

The supermarket chilis we tried, in alphabetical order, included:

  • Amy's Organic Black Bean Chili
  • Amy's Organic Medium Chili
  • Campbell's® Chunky™ Roadhouse Chili with Bean Microwaveable Bowl
  • Engine 2 Plant-Strong Organic Firehouse Chili
  • Hormel® Chili Turkey with Beans
  • Hormel® Chili Vegetarian with Beans
  • Hormel® Chili with Beans
  • Modern Table Bean Chili Snack Cup
  • WOLF BRAND Chili With Beans

See what tasted the best, and what is better called dog food among these 9 supermarket chilis.

From Best to Worst…

1

Campbell's® Chunky™ Roadhouse Chili with Beans Microwaveable Bowl

campbells chunky chili with beans
Ann Marie Langrehr

Our top pick came not from a can, but a convenient microwavable bowl. This is the ideal work lunch, between class pick-me-up, quick dinner bowl, or perfect dunkable dish to satisfy your chili needs.

We loved Campbell's Chunky chili with beans and got everything we were looking for from a chili in this cute little cup. Thick texture, flavorful meat, hearty beans, and, on top of that, zero mess to clean up. Once you're finished with this little tub, you just rinse and recycle this bowl. No dishes! That gives it extra points in our book.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

Our team liked this chili a lot in comparison to the other eight. One editor said they "would buy this for a cold night and add tons of cheese. Campbells's doesn't disappoint." Another editor "appreciated the multitude of beans offered here. Receiving extra points because it "tasted fresh comparatively to some of the others."

The taste of this one was a mix of "hints of ketchup and gravy and beef bits." Overall, it had a "really nice flavor. Tasted closest to home-cooked," which is why it ended up #1 on our list.

One editor said, "not bad! I would definitely not be opposed to putting a small portion of this on my plate at a cookout." Another liked, "how easy it was to heat up." Out of the nine we tried, Campbell's did the best in the race to see what could taste the closest to a classic mom's recipe. Surprisingly enough, we didn't need to be looking for a can for the best supermarket chili—it was in a portable, lunch-ready cup.

2

Hormel® Chili Turkey with Beans

hormel chili turkey with beans
Ann Marie Langrehr

Our second pick was also not what we expected. Surprisingly, our taste testers preferred a chili with turkey instead of ground beef. For our low-fat-seeking chili eaters, this is definitely the canned chili for you.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

Our team had many good things to say about Hormel's turkey version. This one received top ratings for its "hearty taste. It tastes very clean and has a good meaty texture and flavor." Some of our testers thought it "felt healthy. This one is also very flavorful."

For our turkey lovers, this was a crowd-pleaser. One taster said this was, "super hearty. I prefer turkey to beef, so I like this a lot." One editor also said, "the turkey is much better than the normal with beans."

What kept it just shy of the #1 spot? Lack of spice. One editor stated this one was "really good, but def could use some spice."

3

Amy's Organic Black Bean Chili

amys organic black bean chili
Ann Marie Langrehr

This meat-free chili wasn't what we expected for third place. Some went into this wondering why there was a bowl of beans on the table. To our surprise, this can beat out most of the traditional chilis and landed in our top 3 because of the perfect blend of spices.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

One editor named this supermarket chili the best on their list, saying, "Finally. A chili that actually tastes like it's supposed to taste." Another said "even though this is canned and vegetarian, it has an impressive depth of flavor."

This bean mixture is the perfect vegetarian option to warm up your tummy on a cold night. One editor stated this reminds them of "spicy black bean soup."

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

4

WOLF BRAND Chili With Beans

wolf brand chili with beans
Ann Marie Langrehr

This can looked and smelled the most like dog food at first, but it was a dark horse in this chili cook-off. The initial smell when prepping this can was absolutely awful, but after heating up a portion in the microwave, the beefy spices expelled from this bowl made us crave some cheese and tortilla chips for dipping.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

Our team was split across the board with this one. The look of this supermarket chili was too much for some of us, but others braved the dog food-like consistency and were pleasantly surprised. One editor stated, "this tastes the most like actual chili, even if it looks gross." Another said, "I would definitely choose this as a great chili dog chili."

A few editors loved Wolf Brand. One said, "yum!! Super thick and hearty. The perfect amount of spice. This would be great on a cold day." Another said, "this is very creamy and meaty. I don't feel like I need cheese and potato to eat it, but it would be stellar with both." And one last one said, "If you eat with your eyes first, you're missing out. This is the creme da la creme of chili. It would be great for toppings–perfect for hot dogs, baked potatoes, fries, etc."

5

Hormel Chili with Beans

hormel chili with beans
Ann Marie Langrehr

This meaty version with beans stepped above the vegetarian option from the same brand in our taste test. This pick came in the dead center of our taste test list.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

We were off to a good start with one editor stating that this had "great flavor, great thickness. It's not too spicy, and had a good meat-to-beans ratio." Another said they thought this was "the best out of all the Hormel options. I would love to sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on this."

However, not everyone agreed. One editor said, "NO, NO, NO. The taste and texture are incredibly off-putting" and that this version was "goopy and bland." Another editor thought this could "really benefit from some spice."

Most of the comments stated this can was "bland and had a weird aftertaste." But the nostalgic flavors helped boost it into our top five. One last editor stated, "this is the classic chili flavoring I could imagine on a hot dog at a baseball game. It's not great or the best out there by any means, but very nostalgic."

6

Amy's Organic Medium Chili

amys medium chili
Ann Marie Langrehr

Amy's was another brand that offered more than just one type of canned supermarket chili, both vegetarian and not. We were fans of the versatility of the spicy level labeled on the cans. If you don't like spice or want even more spices, look to Amy's to try out different levels of heat.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

One editor's nostalgia came back when trying this chili. "I used to eat this a lot as a vegan, and it's still as good as I remember. For a vegetarian supermarket chili, it's got it all! Spice, flavor, and meat 'taste'." But another editor disagreed, saying this had "ZERO FLAVOR. The turkey is dry and it has a soupy texture."

Another editor went in open-minded stating, "I was excited by the celery addition here, but boy, was it bland with a capital B."

7

Hormel Chili Vegetarian with Beans

hormel chili vegetarian with beans
Ann Marie Langrehr

Hormel is a more well-known brand of chili, so you'll see it multiple times on this list with options that are both vegetarian-friendly and meat lover-friendly. However, as you can see, the vegetarian version couldn't stand up to the other options.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

We weren't big fans of this Hormel option. Almost all of the comments from the meat lovers in our taste test stated that there needs to be meat for it to be considered chili. One editor stated they "didn't like the spices in this. Hard pass."

Overall, this one had a "cardboard-like aftertaste." However, one editor liked this can, stating, "for veggie chili, this isn't so bad. I appreciate the thickness of the stock, and the seasoning is pretty good." Another editor boosted points for its "green" taste, saying it "tasted clean and very veggie-like." It was, "Not bad, good consistency without being too thick or too soupy. A little sweet tasting for a chili, however."

8

Modern Table Bean Chili Snack Cup

modern table bean chili snack cup
Ann Marie Langrehr

We loved the convenience of the paper cup version of this chili and the fact that you need zero dishes other than a spoon. However, that was all that was positive about Modern Table's bean supermarket chili snack cup.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

One editor started off by stating this chili's taste was "bland. It's just too thin of a texture to be considered chili. It's a little more like soup."

Another taster's experience was far from pleasant. Stating, "I wanted the sensation to end so bad. Probably the most horrific thing I've ever eaten in my life." Yikes. It's true that it was, "easy to serve with a heatable cup. It's pretty good for a quick-heat bowl, but more of a soup than a hearty chili. It would make a good work lunch." But ultimately, it was, "watery and basically tomato soup with some veggies floating in it. Pass me some Campbell's and a grilled cheese instead."

The soupy base wasn't our only issue either. One editor said, "the taste isn't awful, but the beans oh goodness. Somehow they made beans taste stale."

9

Engine 2 Plant-Strong Organic Firehouse Chili

engine 2 firehouse organic chili
Ann Marie Langrehr

OK, the box should've been a dead giveaway. This was the only "canned" chili that actually came from a box. The instructions for opening the box were similar to that of lunchroom milk cartons, but the thick cardboard layers made it almost impossible to crack open this brand's chili without the help of a very large knife. The convenience of a box though did receive recognition for the least amount of dog-food smell, and who wouldn't want to avoid the labor of a can opener?

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

The team was far from fans of this brand. One taster explained how the experience of eating this chili really made them feel: "This chili taste as if they left chili sitting out in a pot for several days, and then they dumped out all the beans and meat and just left the leftover water from where the chili once sat. Then, they let that chili water sit out for a couple more days. And after that, they added just one teaspoon of hot sauce and boxed it up for consumption."

If that's not enough to convince you this boxed chili is a no-go, maybe a few comments from our other editors may help. One editor stated this was "absolutely inedible."

One editor couldn't get over the packaging and thought that was the explanation for the horrible taste. "It's OK, but a little watery. Also who eats chili straight out of a box?!"

We had nothing nice to say about Engine 2's chili. It was "horrible. It tasted like watered-down bean soup and the texture of the beans almost tastes fake. How is that possible?" If you're going to try a supermarket chili, stay away from the boxed options.

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Ann Marie Langrehr
Ann Marie Langrehr is an assistant editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in social media and trending food coverage. Read more
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