The minute the weather takes a turn toward winter, the first thing on my to-do list is to make a big pot of chili to take the chill off. My son is the same way and on particularly cold days, will request chili for dinner. It’s about the most natural food/weather pairing there is, right?
I grew up on chili that had added brown sugar, which makes it taste really delicious! It adds a little sweet to take the tart edge off the tomatoes and goes so well with the smoky feel the chili powder adds. As I’ve worked toward lowering my intake of added sugar, I knew I had to adjust my chili recipe, and I finally nailed down a recipe I love.
There’s no added sugar, but no lack of the sweetness I wanted. The sweetness comes from dates, which are my go-to ingredient for adding sweetness without using sugar. This naturally sweet fruit works tremendously well in this chili recipe and doesn’t add a fruity flavor like you might expect.
This Sweet and Smoky No-Sugar-Added Chili is a basic chili recipe and can totally be tailored to your liking. Switch out the beans for whatever variety you like best, or leave them out altogether if you like it Texas-style. You can also use any type of ground meat you like. I gave the topper suggestions we like, but the sky’s the limit so use whatever you like – cheddar cheese, jalapeno peppers, and even cilantro will all taste great.
With the extra people you may have around at this time of the year with the holidays in full swing, this makes a generous pot of soup to have on hand for a hungry crowd. Plus, any leftover chili freezes well to pull out on those cold winter nights you may not feel like cooking…not that anyone ever has any of those nights, right???
Sweet and Smoky No-Sugar-Added Chili How-To Photos:
Soak pitted dates in boiling water so they soften
Puree the undrained dates in a blender
Brown ground beef, chopped onion, and celery; drain off the fat
Gather the spices you’ll need – each one will add a unique boost of flavor
Add the spices and garlic to the browned meat mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute
I use home-canned tomatoes for my chili but I’ve given you an option of using purchased canned tomatoes
Let the chili simmer for 15 to 20 minutes so all the flavors blend well!
Top individual bowls of chili as desired!
- 1 cup boiling water
- 10 pitted dates
- 2 pounds ground beef, ground turkey, or ground bison
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 quarts crushed or diced no-salt-added tomatoes*
- 2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and/or pinto beans, rinsed and drained**
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- Sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
- Green onion tops (optional)
- In a small bowl combine 1 cup boiling water and dates. Let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer dates and water to a blender. Cover and blend until completely smooth. Set aside.
- In a 6- to 8-quart pot cook beef, onion, and celery over medium heat until beef is no longer pink. Break up meat as it cooks using a wooden spoon or by mashing with a potato masher. Drain off fat. Add garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, and coriander to meat. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
- Add pureed date mixture, undrained tomatoes, beans, 2 cups water, and the salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes to blend flavors. Ladle chili into bowls. If desired, top with sour cream and/or green onion tops to garnish.
- *I use home-canned tomatoes, which are chopped. If you need to buy tomatoes, use two 28-ounce cans no-salt-added crushed tomatoes and 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes.
- **You can substitute 1 cup dried beans (variety of your choice) for the canned beans. Soak and fully cook the dried beans according to package directions before adding to the chili.
- I keep my chili on the mild side because of my kids, however, if you like it spicier, add more chili powder or a pinch or two of crushed red pepper.
- 15 1/2 cups
- 12 (1 1/4 cups per serving)
- 259 cals, 21 g pro, 25 g carb, 9 g fat, 49 mg cholesterol, 3 g sat fat, 7 g fiber, 759 mg sodium