I tried 5 different kinds of canned chili, and there’s only one I’d eat again

I tried chili from the brands Hormel, Wolf Brand, Amy’s, and Campbell’s.Abigail Abesamis Demarest

  • I reviewed five kinds of canned chili from the supermarket to find the best convenient option.

  • The meat-free version of Amy’s was quite tasty, but the Campbell’s Chunky chili mac was my favorite.

  • Still, none of these canned versions held a candle to homemade chili.

Chili is a classic and hearty meal, and the canned versions can be superconvenient.

White bowl of Chili with spoon in it

I tried chilis containing beans.Abigail Abesamis Demarest

Chili is warm, comforting, and filling, but it requires a fair amount of chopping and simmering to build the complex flavors. So canned options offer a cheap and convenient way to enjoy the classic meal.

I taste tasted five kinds of canned chili — Hormel, Wolf Brand, Amy’s, Campbell’s Chunky, and the Campbell’s brand Well Yes — to find the best option.

I decided to compare versions with beans for consistency’s sake, and I heated up each chili in the microwave, following the instructions on the respective cans.

Read on to see how these canned chilis stacked up.

Hormel’s take had what I’d consider a classic, canned-chili taste.

Can of Homel chili beside a white bowl of chili

Hormel’s chili had a lot of beans.Abigail Abesamis Demarest

When I think of canned chili, I think of Hormel’s, so I tried it first as a control, of sorts.

I followed the instructions on the can and warmed up the chili in a microwave-safe bowl for two to three minutes, stirring halfway through.

Hormel’s chili was the most bean-forward.

Pretty much each bite was beans. Plus the flavor was very mild, and I couldn’t pick up much spice.

Wolf Brand’s chili had a smoother consistency and a lot more spices.

Red can of wolf brand chili beside white bowl of it

Wolf Brand’s chili would work great with cheese to make a dip.Abigail Abesamis Demarest

I needed to take out my can opener for this chili, as it was the only one without a convenient pull tab.

Upon taking it out of the microwave after two minutes, I noticed a skin had formed on top of the chili. Fortunately, when I mixed it in, it didn’t seem to affect the texture or flavor.

I got a lot more spice from Wolf Brand’s take but no heat. The spices were the predominant taste, with the chili and beans adding a little texture but not a lot of flavor.

This option was also much smoother than Hormel’s. I could see this pairing well with cheese for a delicious chili dip.

I didn’t even notice the Amy’s chili was meat-free.

green can of amy's chili beside a white bowl of it

The Amy’s chili contains tofu chunks instead of meat.Abigail Abesamis Demarest

This meat-free take on chili has bits of tofu in it, but it’s so convincing I didn’t realize it was vegetarian until reading the can afterward.

It was the best-looking chili of the bunch, sporting a thin, pourable consistency. I heated it up in the microwave for two minutes.

I could smell and taste the bell peppers, which gave the chili a nice, bright profile. There was a lightness to the flavor and texture that I also enjoyed.

The Amy’s take had a more homemade taste to it. It’s labeled as a medium chili, but I didn’t find it too spicy, despite having a low tolerance.

The Campbell’s Chunky chili mac was surprisingly good.

Red can of Campbells chunky chili mac beside white bowl of it

The Campbell’s chili mac had a noticeable tomato flavor.Abigail Abesamis Demarest

Faced with limited options at the supermarket, I decided to throw this chili mac into the mix.

Like Amy’s chili, this Campbell’s Chunky meal had a pourable consistency and was easy to transfer into a microwave-safe bowl. I heated it up for 2 1/2 minutes.

This chili tasted better than it looked.

The macaroni offered a surprisingly nice texture. Unlike some of the other options, which had a bean-forward flavor, the soft pasta made for a lighter bite that required less chewing.

It was also the first chili I taste-tested that had a noticeable tomato flavor.

It wasn’t gourmet by any means, but for canned chili it was pretty decent and had a nice, mellow taste.

The Campbell’s Well Yes veggie chili would make a solid on-the-go option.

Campbell's Well Yes Chili in Original, Microwave-Safe Container

This Campbell’s chili comes in a microwave-safe container.Abigail Abesamis Demarest

This soup comes in a microwave-safe bowl, which is convenient to take on the go.

I heated it up for a minute and 15 seconds and gave it a stir before digging in. The plastic lid was a little tricky to remove without touching the hot metal rim or spilling the chili.

This veggie chili was the thinnest of the bunch, more reminding me of a minestrone soup. I liked that I could see the vegetables, but it just didn’t scream chili to me.

It was the spiciest of the ones I tried, but not overpoweringly so.

None of these canned options compared to the rich flavor of homemade chili, but some were decently tasty.

Spoonful of chilli mac with gray background

For great chili, you’re better off making a batch at home.Abigail Abesamis Demarest

If you’re a passionate chili fan, chances are the canned variety won’t impress you. As found in this taste test, these options generally sacrifice flavor and texture for convenience.

Though the Amy’s organic chili had a nice, bright flavor and was the best looking of the bunch, I kept going back to the Campbell’s Chunky chili mac.

I know pasta isn’t a traditional ingredient in chili, but let’s face it: None of these canned versions held a candle to the homemade stuff.

For a microwaveable meal, the chili mac was pretty tasty. It’s the one I’d actually want to eat again.

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