7 Tips To Cut Calories When Cooking With Chili

Chili is undoubtedly one of the most popular ingredients in the world of cooking. Whether it’s used as a seasoning, a sauce or a main ingredient, chili has the ability to add that extra bit of kick and depth to your dishes. However, many people are unaware of the calorie count that chili can add to their meals.

Calories in chili can vary depending on the type of chili you use and the way you use it in your cooking. For example, a tablespoon of chili powder has around 15 calories, while a single fresh chili pepper can contain anywhere from 18 to 65 calories. If you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake, it’s important to be mindful of how much chili you’re using.

chili calories

Luckily, there are a number of simple and effective ways to reduce your calorie intake when cooking with chili. By using fresh chili peppers instead of chili powder or dried peppers, you can significantly cut down on the calorie count. Additionally, by opting for lower-calorie ingredients alongside your chili, such as lean proteins and veggies, you can create a delicious and nutritious meal that won’t sabotage your diet. In this article, we’ll explore some simple and tasty ways to reduce calorie intake when cooking with chili.

Less Meat, More Veggies.

One way to reduce calorie intake in chili is by having fewer meat portions and more vegetables. When meat portions, such as ground beef or pork, are reduced, calorie content goes down because meats typically contain more calories, fats, and proteins than vegetables. Adding vegetables, such as sweet bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, can provide extra nutrition, fiber, and bulk to the chili without adding many calories.

For instance, a half-cup serving of raw ground beef usually contains about 160 calories, while the same amount of raw red bell pepper has only about 20 calories. Therefore, replacing half of the ground beef in the chili recipe with chopped red bell pepper can potentially lower calorie content by up to 70 calories per serving. Similarly, swapping half of the beef with vegetable-based protein sources like cooked chickpeas or lentils can further contribute to calorie savings while still maintaining protein levels.

Overall, switching to a less meat, more veggies-centered chili recipe can offer a delicious way to consume fewer calories, reduce saturated fat intake, and increase fiber and key vitamins and minerals.

Drain And Rinse Canned Beans.

Draining and rinsing canned beans can significantly reduce the number of calories in chili. This is because the liquid in which canned beans are stored often contains added salt and sugar which can increase the calorie content. By draining and rinsing the beans, you are removing much of this excess salt and sugar. Additionally, rinsing the beans can remove the starchy residue on the surface which can also contribute to higher calorie count.

For example, a 100g serving of canned kidney beans contains roughly 94 calories, but draining and rinsing the same serving can reduce this number to approximately 64 calories. This means that simply taking the time to drain and rinse your canned beans before adding them to your chili can reduce the overall calorie count of the dish.

Furthermore, using canned beans in place of meats such as beef or pork can also reduce the calorie count of your chili while still providing essential protein and fiber. This makes chili with beans an excellent option for those who are watching their calorie intake.

In conclusion, draining and rinsing canned beans is a simple step that can significantly reduce the calorie count of chili, while still providing essential nutrients for a healthy diet.

Replace Sour Cream With Yogurt.

One way to reduce the calorie count of chili is to replace sour cream with yogurt. Sour cream is high in fat and calories, while yogurt is a healthier alternative with a similar taste and texture. Greek yogurt, in particular, has a thick and creamy texture that is similar to sour cream and is also high in protein.

In a cup of sour cream, there are roughly 445 calories and 45 grams of fat. In comparison, a cup of full-fat Greek yogurt has around 300 calories and 20 grams of fat. This substitution can make a big difference, especially for those who are watching their calorie and fat intake.

When making chili, simply replace the sour cream with yogurt as a topping. The yogurt can be seasoned with herbs such as cilantro, chives, or parsley for added flavor. Alternatively, low-fat cottage cheese or silken tofu can also be used as a substitute for sour cream in chili toppings.

Overall, replacing sour cream with yogurt is an easy way to reduce the calorie count of chili while still enjoying a creamy and flavorful topping. This substitution can be a healthy and delicious option for those who want to eat healthier and maintain a healthy weight.

chili calories

Use Low-Sodium Broth.

Using low-sodium broth is an effective way to reduce the calorie count of chili. This is because regular broth contains a high amount of sodium, which can cause water retention and bloating. When you use low-sodium broth, you can reduce the amount of salt and calories in your chili without sacrificing flavor. To make low-calorie chili, you can use lean ground beef or turkey instead of regular beef. This reduces the fat content and thus the calorie count. Also, you can add more vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers and tomatoes to make the chili more nutritious.

In addition to reducing the calorie count, using low-sodium broth has other benefits. For example, a high-sodium diet increases the risk of hypertension and heart disease. By using low-sodium broth, you can reduce the amount of salt in your diet and lower your risk of these diseases. Furthermore, low-sodium broth helps to regulate blood pressure and improve kidney function. Therefore, it is a healthier alternative to regular broth.

In conclusion, using low-sodium broth is a simple way to reduce the calorie count of chili. It also has other health benefits such as reducing the risk of hypertension and heart disease. This simple change can help you to maintain a healthier diet without sacrificing taste.

Watch The Cheese Toppings.

When it comes to chili calories, it is important to watch the cheese toppings. Cheese is a high-calorie food and it can quickly add up the calories in your chili. For example, just one ounce of cheddar cheese contains around 114 calories. Therefore, if you add a few ounces of cheese on top of your chili, you can easily consume several hundred calories just from the cheese alone.

To reduce the calorie content of your chili, you can opt for low-fat cheese or simply reduce the amount of cheese you add to your dish. Another option is to skip the cheese altogether and try other toppings such as chopped fresh herbs, diced tomatoes, jalapenos, or even hot sauce.

It is also important to pay attention to portion sizes when it comes to cheese toppings. A little bit of cheese can go a long way in terms of flavor, so instead of piling on the cheese, try sprinkling just a small amount on top of your chili.

In summary, cheese is a high-calorie food that can quickly increase the calorie content of your chili. To reduce the calorie count, consider using low-fat cheese or reducing the amount of cheese you add to your dish. Additionally, try using other toppings such as fresh herbs or hot sauce to add flavor to your chili.

chili calories

Cut Back On Heavy Oils.

When making chili, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of heavy oils you are using. Heavy oils can add a significant amount of calories to your chili without necessarily adding much flavor or nutrition. By cutting back on heavy oils, you can make a healthier and lower calorie chili.

One common heavy oil used in chili recipes is vegetable oil. While vegetable oil can be a healthy fat in moderation, it is high in calories and can easily add up if you use too much. Instead of using vegetable oil, consider using cooking spray or a small amount of olive oil for sautéing.

Another heavy oil to watch out for is the oil that comes from ground beef or other meats. By choosing leaner cuts of meat or draining excess fat from the meat, you can significantly reduce the amount of fat and calories in your chili.

chili calories

Finally, sometimes chili recipes call for adding cheese or sour cream as a topping. While these can be delicious additions, they are also high in calories and saturated fat. Consider using a smaller amount of cheese or low-fat sour cream, or skipping these toppings altogether to further reduce the calorie count of your chili.

Overall, by cutting back on heavy oils in your chili recipe, you can make a tasty and healthy meal that won’t derail your diet.

Use Chilies Instead Of Sauces.

Chilies are a great alternative to sauces as they add flavor and spice to dishes without adding extra calories. Chilies contain capsaicin, which has been shown to boost metabolism and promote fat burning. One green chili pepper contains just 18 calories and can add a subtle heat to recipes. In comparison, one tablespoon of ketchup contains 20 calories and one tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 94 calories. Using chilies allows people to enjoy the benefits of spicy food without consuming excess calories. Additionally, chilies are a good source of vitamins A and C. Adding more chilies to the diet may also help reduce cravings for salty or sweet foods. Finally, it’s important to note that people with stomach issues, such as acid reflux or ulcers, should avoid consuming large amounts of chilies as they can irritate the stomach lining. In summary, using chilies instead of sauces can add a flavorful kick to dishes without adding empty calories, making it a healthy and tasty alternative.

Reduce Serving Sizes.

One effective strategy to reduce chili calories is by reducing serving sizes. By serving smaller portions, one can still enjoy their favorite chili dishes while consuming fewer calories. Reducing serving sizes could also help with portion control and prevent overeating.

According to research, lemon juice calories may not have a significant effect on metabolism. Therefore, using lemon juice as a flavor enhancer for chili may be a good alternative to high-calorie ingredients like sour cream or cheese. Lemon juice also adds a tangy and refreshing taste to chili, which could be a delicious and healthy addition.

Reducing serving sizes can be difficult for those who are used to larger portion sizes. However, there are certain tricks that can help with portion control. One way is to use smaller plates or bowls to serve food. This creates an illusion of a fuller plate and could help with feeling more satisfied with smaller portions.

Another strategy is to add more vegetables to chili dishes. Vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, which could help with satiety and keep one full for longer periods. They also add volume to the dish, making it appear more substantial.

Overall, reducing serving sizes is a practical and effective way to reduce chili calories. By incorporating other healthy ingredients like lemon juice and vegetables, one can still enjoy flavorful and satisfying chili dishes without compromising their health goals.

Try Meatless Chili Options.

Meatless chili options can be a great way to reduce calories in your diet. Traditional chili made with meat can be high in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Replacing meat with protein-packed plant-based ingredients like beans, quinoa, and lentils can provide the same satisfying and hearty texture without the added calories and fat.

For example, a one-cup serving of beef chili contains around 350 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 40 grams of carbohydrates. In contrast, one cup of vegetarian chili made with beans and vegetables contains approximately 200 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 32 grams of carbohydrates. This means that the switch to meatless chili can save you up to 150 calories per serving.

Moreover, vegetarian chili is often rich in fiber and nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, potassium, and iron. Fiber helps keep you full for longer and supports healthy digestion, while the nutrients in vegetables and legumes can help boost your immune system, regulate blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol.

chili calories

In conclusion, if you’re looking to cut calories and eat a more plant-based diet, consider trying meatless chili options. They are a delicious and nutritious alternative to traditional meat-based chili.


In conclusion, chili can be a flavorful and nutritious addition to your diet, but it’s important to be mindful of its calorie content. The number of calories in chili can vary depending on the ingredients used, so it’s important to pay attention to portion sizes and cook with healthier alternatives when possible. Lean meats like turkey or chicken can be substituted for beef to reduce calories and decrease saturated fat intake. Additionally, using fresh and low-fat ingredients, like vegetables and beans, can make chili a healthy and filling option.

It’s important to keep in mind that chili can also be high in sodium, especially if using canned ingredients. To reduce sodium levels, opt for low-sodium canned goods or make your own beans and tomato sauce from scratch. Overall, chili can be a delicious and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation.

In summary, chili is a popular and versatile dish that can provide many health benefits, but it’s important to be mindful of the calorie count and other nutritional contents. With a few simple tweaks to the recipe, you can make a delicious and nutritious chili that’s low in calories yet high in flavor. So go ahead and indulge in this spicy dish, just make sure to keep an eye on portion sizes and use healthy alternatives when possible.

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