National Chili Day


Hey! Thursday, February 26 is National Chili Day!

Sure, it’s totally made up, but aren’t most holidays?! And I just can’t find a way to be opposed to celebrating meat, tomatoes, chiles, and spices on the fourth Thursday of every February. It’s like a spicy Thanksgiving or something.

A little history…

The earliest written description came from J.C. Clopper, who wrote of a visit to San Antonio, Texas, in 1928: “When they have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat—this is all stewed together.”

By the 1880s, San Antonio markets included chili stands that sold “bowls o’ red” that were staffed by “chili queens.” A bowl cost ten cents and was served with a piece of bread and a glass of water. By the end of the 20th century, chili had become a tourist attraction and the San Antonio Chili Stand was an attraction at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was a chili devotee and had strong opinions about chili. He preferred his bowl o’ red to be made with venison instead of beef, and he’s quoted as saying: “Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing. One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.”

Cook Some Chili

With all due respect to LBJ, I don’t believe you need to be in Texas to make a righteous pot of chili — and the recipes below prove that a little creativity makes chili an  international sensation. Given that it’s National Chili Day soon, you should probably make a batch or two, don’tcha think? Here are two paleo chili recipes from me (both of mine are Whole30 compliant) plus a few recipes from some of my other favorite paleo cooks.

taleoftwochilisChocolate Chili from Well Fed
This recipe is literally an award-winner: it won the Paleo Magazine award for Best Savory Recipe in 2012. My husband Dave has said on numerous occasions that I could just make this every day, and he would be happy. It’s hard to disagree: cocoa, cumin, chili powder, and a long, slow simmer make this dish rich and satisfying.

Cincinnati Chili from Well Fed 2
It’s hard to resist a pile of noodles with chili piled on top! And Cincinnati Chili is a singular taste experience: with a touch of cinnamon and a thin broth, it’s like a Greek meat sauce and a pot of Texas chili mashed up with a pile of pasta. It’s unexpected and delicious.


Pork Chili Verde, Stupid Easy Paleo

Simple, Satisfying Chili from Scratch, The Domestic Man

Butternut Squash Chili, Everyday Paleo


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  • charity says:

    Perfect! I didn’t know what I should make for dinner tomorrow night so chili it is.

  • Denise says:

    I am fiercely loyal to the beloved chocolate chili recipe (I always have a double batch of it just chillin’ in the freezer) so I initially breezed right past the Cincinnati Chili as I was perusing Well Fed 2, but I suppose one can never have too much chili.

  • Pork Verde Chili, yes please!!!

  • Emily says:

    I have made and love BOTH your chili recipes. My dad, who was always partial to his own chili recipe (with which he entered numerous chili competitions) said your Chocolate Chili was the ONLY other chili he’d ever had that he’d put on par with his own. Coming from him, that’s an awesome compliment.

  • Elise says:

    Hey there! I am your newest fan! Ha! I just started the Whole30 and was perusing a favorite blog of a girl who has posted quite a bit about it. She linked to your comfort zucchini noodle recipe and HOLY COW, was it delicious! My husband even said it was waaay better than the noodles and sauce I prepared for him and the kiddos. I am trying your chocolate chili tonight and cannot wait! This whole way of eating is very foreign to me, and I MISS my coconut sugar in my coffee like crazy, but I am committed to see it through. My mom is ordering Well Fed for the both of us and I am so looking forward to cooking my way through it. Thank you so much for the great recipes!

  • Austin says:

    I made your chocolate chili for a chili cookoff at work and won for best flavor. That’s good stuff!

  • Stacey says:

    i love your Chocolate Chili recipe and am looking forward to trying your Cincinnati Chili. Just wondering… I love chili with chunks of meat also, though I have always had it at restaurants, not made it myself. What cut of beef would you recommend to use, what size chunks, and how much in each of your recipes? I can usually substitute fairly easily, but for some reason I am having trouble with this.
    Thanks! And hope you are having a blast in Paris…

    • Chuck would be good for chunky chili (and stews, too). Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes, and use about 1 pound for every 3-4 people. If you wanted to use the Chocolate Chili recipe with beef chuck, you could just replace the meat 1:1, so use 2 pounds of chuck. Brown it very well on all side, take it out of the pan, then saute the onions and proceed with the rest of the recipe, adding the chuck cubes back to the pan where you would usually add the ground beef.