While looking for a last-minute dinner idea last week, I rummaged through my pantry and discovered several cans of chili that had been sitting pretty for the past two years. Would my kids like it? I heated some up on the stove and served it with avocado, chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese on top, holding my breath as I awaited their reaction. Turns out, they loved it. Perhaps canned chili has more redeeming qualities than I gave it credit for.
Browsing the aisles at several grocery stores around town, I discovered that the selection varies depending on the store. Big chains like Walmart and Fred Meyer (part of the Kroger brand) have more than five brands and varieties to choose from, while stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have less. I pulled together eight brands and varieties that are most likely to be found at your local supermarket, then ranked them based on their flavor profile, nutritional value, and price.
Note: Not all microwaves and stoves are created equal, so you should adjust your cooking time accordingly. For instance, the cooking instructions on most cans said to heat the chili in the microwave for two minutes, but I found that 30 seconds was plenty in my microwave.
Without further ado, here are eight leading brands of canned chili, ranked from worst to best.