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Chili recipe that isn't spicy at all?

I love making chili and am looking for a recipe that is not at all spicy (I have a few spice-sensitive friends). I know that some people even find chili powder to be spicy. Is it possible to make a good chili that isn't spicy? Is there such a thing as sweet chili powder?

Any recipes out there?!

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  1. If it's not at least a little spicy, I don't think it can be called chili any more. Coq au Vin sans wine is simply chicken, likewise chili without chiles is... sloppy joes?

    The least spicy you're going to get is, I think, Paprika and pureed red bell peppers.

    1. Have you seen the 5 alarm chili mix in the grocery? That, if I recall correctly, packages the spices separately. There is a large packet of mild ground chiles, and a separate one of the hot. I'd suggest making that without any of the hot, and see if that is what you want.

      The mildest chile is sweet hungarian paprika, but that would give you more of goulash than a chili. Though if you use enough cumin and Mexican oregano, you might move it into chili territory. Unsmoke Spanish paprika is mild, though it is used more for color than flavor.

      Another option is to buy several of the ground chiles that you find in the Mexican spice track (cello packages for less than a dollar each). Test these, and see if one is mild enough.

      Another option is to make 'chile verde' with chicken or pork, and use fresh or canned mild Anaheims.

      Another option is a Cincinnati style, which takes chili in a Greek direction, with sweet spices like cinnamon. It also puts more emphasis on the 'accessories' - spaghetti, cheese, onion.

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        Oldie but goodie question......

        "The mildest chile is sweet hungarian paprika, but that would give you more of goulash than a chili. Though if you use enough cumin and Mexican oregano, you might move it into chili territory."

        ++1 !!! Paprika will make it goulash. Period. Cumin is what gives that taste that people recognize to be "real" chili. A small amount of Oregano boosts the flavor.

        The chili pepper adds a flavor, but only if you can *taste* it over the heat factor. You might try the Ancho (dried poblano (think chili relleno)) which is very mild. You may be able to find the powder and if not, rehydrate a couple of the dried peppers for a couple of hours in hot water. Reserve the peppers. Use the water for cooking the chili. After it's cooked down, taste and if more heat is desired, add some of the chopped peppers.

      2. I make this recipe from epicurious frequently - it is very good - slightly sweet and you could certainly cut back on the chili powder - you probably could substitute some paprika.

        1. Try this.

          Take the chili recipe you are currrently using. Take some bananas, roast them with skin on, cool, peel and them puree the bananas. Then mix into the chili. Takes the bite out of it and adds a nice new flavor layer as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            brilliant! subtle and sweet, and also thickens without turning to paste!!! i was thinking maybe applesauce, but just couldn't bring myself to adulterate chili that way...

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I put a can or two of pumpkin in mine and it not only tastes great, it gives the chili a nice, thick consistency.

            2. I make this Chunky Turkey Chili all the time and my 2 and 4 year olds both love it (scroll down on page). It is not spicy at all. Obviously you could use ground beef instead of ground turkey.


              5 Replies
              1. re: valerie

                Valerie, I printed out that turkey chili recipe and I am going to try it next week. My 10-year-old doesn't like her food too spicy and that might be right up her alley.

                1. re: valerie

                  Valerie, I wanted to thank you for that turkey chili recipe. Chili purists would shudder but it was a hit with my daughter and her friend who was visiting yesterday. I'm sure I'll make it again. I made it with turkey.

                  1. re: NYCkaren

                    I'm glad they liked it. I serve it to my kids over rice and I have even been known to put it over a small shaped pasta. Maybe not authentic, but they certainly don't know or care.

                    I actually just went back to that site and there is a very similar recipe now for another turkey chili. This new one has a few more ingredients -- beef stock, tortillas, carrots. Maybe I will try this one next time.

                    Also, this is another one that I make for my kids -- Multi-bean chili -- and I use very little cayenne.


                  2. re: valerie

                    What is the recipe? This is an old blog, but it sounds good.

                    1. re: achilles

                      If you scroll down on this page, the one that I make repeatedly is "Chunky Turkey Chili". I make it and freeze it in smaller portionss In fact, my kids just had it for dinner last night.


                  3. My mom's was like that. Basically tomato and hamburger soup. She stirred about a tablespoon of Mexene into the liquid along towards the end, exactly the strategy needed to ensure the least possible amount of chili flavor. As soon as I discovered how chili SHOULD be made, I carefully put every thought of Mom's out of my mind - her one and only major culinary failure, and she never knew it.

                    You can use powdered dried mild chiles, if you're someplace where bags of these can be found in some markets. You don't need much, but you should sprinkle it over the meat when it's mostly browned, and then stir it and fry it until it becomes fragrant, then add your liquid. That way you'll get a good flavor without the heat.

                    1. I find Ancho chili powder to be pretty mild. It is smoky but not very spicy.

                      1. "Is it possible to make a good chili that isn't spicy?"

                        With emphasis on "good" the answer is NO.

                        Is there such a thing as sweet chili powder?

                        That's called Paprika!

                        My Mom and many other midwesterners make an almost sweet chile with (gasp!) beans. The only diff between her chile and her spagetti sauce was the chile had beans and Chile Powder while the spagetti sauce had no beans but organo and Italian Seasoning.

                        I would humbley suggest that if you have people who are sensitive to the non-heat of chile powder that you note ven attempt to prepare chile for them...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: KiltedCook

                          There are several kinds of chiles that are neither particularly hot nor sweet, and not paprika either. The above-mentioned ancho is a sterling example. Cooking the powdered chile in fat brings out the flavor and gives a good robust note to the finished stew. I have in fact taken to using powdered ancho sometimes in recipes calling for paprika, particularly chicken paprikash, and find it adds a very pleasant dimension to the dish.

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            You can also get Mild NuMex powders (probably through mail order, which is how I get mine)- I like to use it to boost the flavor of my chile without making it too spicy (sometimes one has to consider the taste of those sharing one's home :) ).

                            I've also recently taken to using sweet smoked paprika.

                        2. My chili can be done not very spicy and is a little sweet. My husband and I love it:

                          1 lb. ground beef
                          1 small onion, chopped
                          6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
                          1 small can mushrooms
                          1 small can tomato sauce
                          2 cans Chili Magic (original)
                          1 oz. dark chocolate
                          1/3 cup brown sugar
                          Season to your taste with: chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper

                          1. Try this recipe for modified Chasen's chili:

                            I suggest dropping 1 can of pintos and the rosemary/chile de arbol step. Also, you can halve the amount of butter but do not leave it out.

                            You and I may get arrested by the chili police but you may find a great, not overly spicy, foundational chili recipe that you can then customize to your personal taste.

                            Remember, the "best chili" is the one you make over and over again for yourself.

                            1. I've posted this recipe before for Mildred's Chili: Browned ground beef, canned tomatoes, sauteed onions and garlic, green peppers, celery, a can of tomato soup (undiluted), and drained & rinsed kidney beans, seasoned only with salt and pepper - no chili powder, cumin or cayenne. Serve with elbow macaroni or bow-ties. I had no idea that this wasn't chili until I ordered the real thing in a restaurant and nearly blew off the top of my head. However, Mildred's Chili is still a staple in our family.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Deenso

                                Is it chili if there's no chili powder/chiles in it?

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  Ground beef and beans in a tomato sauce seems to define chili for some people.

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                    It's only "chili con carne" because that's what my mother called it when she served it to us all through my childhood. Since we spoke no Spanish and there wasn't a single Mexican restaurant in my home town in the 1950s, the name had no real significance. My first actual bowl of chili, at a Mexican restaurant after we moved to NYC, was a complete revelation. However inauthentic, though, Mildred's Chili remains a family favorite comfort meal - with the addition of a bit of cayenne and chili powder.

                                2. Maslovma, I agree with the suggestions that if you want a non-spicy dish perhaps cook something other than chili? But try this if you must have chili:

                                  1.5 lb coarse ground beef or steak cut in 1/2-inch cubes
                                  1 large onion, chopped
                                  1 large red bell pepper, chopped ( this is where I usually use fresh chopped hot chiles)
                                  6-7 cloves garlic, minced
                                  2 bottles dark beer (can substitute 2 cans low-sodium beef stock)
                                  3 tbsp supermarket chili powder (this is honestly not spicy at all)
                                  1 1/2 tbsp cumin
                                  1/2 tsp oregano
                                  1/2 tsp brown sugar
                                  Just a sprinkle of cinnamon
                                  2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes, low sodium
                                  1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
                                  1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
                                  Fish sauce (optional, but recommended)

                                  1) Brown beef in a stainless steel pot with vegetable oil. Drain grease if desired. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, sugar, and all your spices. Add a few sprinkles of salt to help vegetables soften . Cook until onions are soft and translucent, and garlic is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.

                                  2) Add beer and juice from tomatoes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Cook on high heat until foam subsides and liquid has reduced somewhat.

                                  3) Add tomatoes and 3-4 shakes of fish sauce. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 1 1/2 hours. The fish sauce really helps add depth and rounds out the flavors. Believe me it does not taste the way it smells.

                                  4) Add rinsed, drained beans and simmer for at least 1 1/2 more hours. Season to taste with more cumin, chili powder and salt.

                                  This should give you OK results. As Will Owen said, since the supermarket chili powder tends to be bland it is important to cook it with some fat to bring out the aroma. The sugar will tone down any residual spiciness, and if you serve with shredded cheese and sour cream it will cool it down even more. Hope this helps!

                                  1. You can exert great control on the heat of a dish by starting from whole chiles and removing the seeds and membranes. That you preserve their flavor while removing the capsaicin. I'd go for a mix of guajillo/New Mexicans for fruitness, ancho for basic chile flavor, and pasilla for richness. None of those are very hot, and should be fine if you remove the membranes. Through some chocolate in there to sweeten it and mellow it out.

                                    1. I use Gebhardt's chili powder which I find flavorful but not particularly hot. I make chili con carne with at least two different kinds of beans. When I was young, for a while I lived in a boarding school in KC, Kansas where we had Mexican women that did all the cooking. That's the way they made chili and so that's how I try to recreate it. When I make chili using 1/2 to 1 lb. of meat and 2 cans of beans, I use 5 to 6 tbs of Gebhardts and my chili is not hot but does have a lot of flavor.

                                      1. I don't know of a non-spicy chili recipe, but my grandmother makes a "Santa Fe Soup" recipe that is seriously good and pretty chili-like. Here's a link http://www.grouprecipes.com/21120/san... As long as you're not opposed to using pre packaged taco/ranch dressing seasonings.....