The Amish make and eat chili. Chili is a hearty and filling dish that is perfect for a cold winter day, and it is also a good way to use up leftover meat and beans.
Chili is one of those "introduced" dishes into Amish culture. Chili does not have a long culinary history with the Old Order Amish, but the dish was introduced and embraced by Amish cooks. Amish cooking tends to be less seasoned than other cultural dishes. So much so that many Amish recipes don't even contain the namesake ingredient: chili powder!
Amish chili recipes typically include ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and occasionally chili powder, cumin, and other spices. Some Amish chili recipes also include corn, peppers, or other vegetables. Amish chili is typically served with cornbread or crackers.
Like for the rest of us, chili seems to have the most currency in Amish kitchens on those first cold days of autumn. Nothing like a bubbling, simmering pot of chili on the stove. But I've seen "chili soup" on Amish stoves year-round, yes, even on a broiling summer day. Not too appealing to me when it is 90 degrees out, but some people don't mind.
Some Amish chili recipes do contain chili powder and jalapenos. "Heat" is growing more and more popular in Amish dishes as jalapeno and chili peppers have caught on in Amish gardens. There is a large Hispanic presence in rural America often overlapping with the Amish so some typically Tex-Mex foods have been introduced and embraced by Amish cooks.
📜 Tips For A Super Chili
- Use quality ingredients. This means using fresh, ripe tomatoes, good quality chili powder, and flavorful beans. This is an obvious tip, but if you are trying to mimic Amish cooking, it is important., Most Amish cooks use homegrown tomatoes, their homemade sauces, garden-grown herbs, etc.
- Brown the meat before adding it to the chili. This will give the chili more flavor and the meat will not overcook during the simmering process.
- Don't be afraid to experiment with different spices. There are many different spices that can be used in chili, so find a combination that you enjoy. A lot of these Amish-version chilis don't have a lot of seasoning or spices, but that doesn't mean you can't doctor them up to your own taste!
- Let the chili simmer for a long time. This is my favorite tip! There's something comforting about having a big pot of chili simmering all afternoon on the stove, plus it will allow the flavors to develop and meld together.
- Serve the chili with your favorite toppings. This could include shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, or chopped cilantro. I drown mine in sour cream, but avocado is awesome also.
Classic Amish chili, if there is such a thing, tends to not have that many ingredients. And I've seen a lot of Amish chilis sweetened up with generous amounts of brown sugar, so Amish chili tends towards the sweeter.
🍲 More Amish-Way Chili Suggestions
- If you are using canned beans, rinse them and drain them before adding them to the chili. This will help to prevent the chili from becoming too watery.
- If you want a thicker chili, you can add a slurry of cornstarch and water to the chili. Just whisk together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Then, add the slurry to the chili and cook until the chili thickens. Although I will say that most Amish chilis I have tasted tend to be more liquidy, like a "chili soup."
- You can also add a bit of chocolate or even cinnamon to chili. This will add a rich, depth of flavor. Like it's not sweet enough with just the brown sugar!
- If you want a spicier chili, you can add more chili peppers or chili powder. Just be careful not to add too much, or the chili will be too hot to eat. Adjust it to your taste. I once visited an Amish home where they were daring one another to eat the hottest chilis. They had a good laugh when one lady popped one in her mouth and it was so hot her face started turning beet red.
🙋 Amish Chili FAQ
Most Amish don't grow their own kidney beans. Kidney beans require optimum growing conditions. Some Amish cooks grow their own beans, even if they aren't kidney beans, they'll swap out kidney beans for navy beans or easier to grow Lima beans. Many Amish will buy cans of chili beans at the market and use them in chili.
Sometimes you end up with a "hybrid" chili-vegetable soup, with corn, carrots, and peas showing up with traditional chili ingredients. There are no rules, just experiment and have fun. If something does turn out, well, next time it will!
🥣 5 Amish Amish Chili Recipes For Autumn
Let's look at five super chili recipes from Amish kitchens that you bubble up on your stove as the cool weather begins this autumn.
Mrs. Yoder's Sweet Farmhouse Chili: Yep, with a heaping cup of brown sugar, this Sweet Farmhouse Chili fits the bill as a sweet Amish chili!
Easy Amish 7-Ingredient Chili: It is the mustard in this recipe that really adds the ying-yang flavor contrast between sweet and bitey, check out this easy Amish chili!
Amish-Style Texas Chili: Okay this recipe has been "Amish-ized" because the addition of beans would typically be a disqualifier for Texas chili, but the recipe does have other traditional Texas chili elements. Check out this Amish version of Texas chili!
Traditional Amish Chili Soup: This recipe comes from our Amish cook columnist, Gloria Yoder, who writes about making it over an open fire. Her recipe is very traditional Amish chili.
Chili Casserole: Ah, true to Amish form, if it can be made into a casserole, an Amish cook will find a way to do it. This chili casserole recipe is super!