How Many Calories In A Bowl Of Chili?

Chili is such a classic, hearty dish that is loved across America.

Over the years there have been many adaptations to the dish such as vegetarian and vegan bean-filled chilis to those with no beans whatsoever.

How Many Calories In A Bowl Of Chili?

Everyone you talk to will have a slightly different recipe to follow or a different ingredient they serve with their chili, which is what makes it so great.

You can change a delicious bowl of chili to suit any needs. 

If you’re eating this dish regularly, you might be wondering how many calories are in it and whether or not it’s healthy for you.

Here we will review how many calories are in a bowl of chili. 

A Basic Chili 

The main ingredients in any chili are basically the same, apart from when making chili for specific dietary restrictions.

Ground beef, kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and onions make up the bulk of the dish. 

The classic spices used to give chili its signature kick include chili powder, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and some basic salt and pepper.

These ingredients can vary from person to person, some like to really bring the heat whereas some like to melt in dark chocolate. 

What you put in the chili will ultimately influence the number of calories in a serving.

Calories In Homemade Chili

Research for the USDA found that there are 264 calories per cup in a traditional homemade chili with ground beef and kidney beans.

The beef and beans pack the dish with plenty of fiber and protein, which is needed in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Tomatoes are another way the dish packs in nutrients, as they are rich in vitamin C and are a major dietary source of an antioxidant called lycopene.

This antioxidant has many health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. 

Adding hot peppers to the dish also has some health benefits.

Studies have found that people who eat spicy foods every day compared to once a week were 14% less at risk of death.

An active compound in spicy foods called capsaicin is believed to help lower our cholesterol and decrease inflammation in the body. 

Calories In Canned Chili 

The number of calories in a canned tin of chili varies depending on the manufacturer.

Generally speaking, these numbers can vary between 260-290 calories per cup of chili.

Although a canned chili may have less or an equal amount of calories than a homemade version, they are often high in fat, sodium, and preservatives. 

How Many Calories In Chili Toppings?

The additional toppings we tend to serve with chili can cause a huge increase in the number of calories we consume.

Popular chili toppings include grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, guacamole, or jalapeno peppers. 

The number of calories contained in these toppings is as follows: 

  • Cheddar cheese = 531 calories in one cup 
  • Sour Cream = 445 calories in one cup
  • Tortilla Chips = 293 calories in one cup
  • Guacamole = 366 calories in one cup 
  • Jalapeno Peppers = 4 calories in one pepper

As you can see, even having a little of each of these toppings can quickly cause the calorie content of your meal to skyrocket.

This is fine once in a while, but if you’re having a meal like this on a regular basis it may lead to serious health problems.

How Many Calories In A Bowl Of Chili?

Is Vegetarian Chili Healthier? 

If we compare the traditional homemade chili with a vegetarian version it’s evident that there are significant differences.

Instead of ground beef, carrots, red and green peppers, corn, and beans are used to bulk out the meal. 

A single serving of vegetarian chili contains between 164-272 calories depending on which recipe you use.

Calories can easily be reduced when making a veggie chili as fewer beans and more vegetables are used.

Meat-less chili is generally a healthier option as ground beef is the least healthy ingredient in a classic chili recipe. 

How To Create A Healthy, Low-Calorie Chili 

Some of us can’t bear the thought of having a chili without the meat in it.

If this is the case, then using leaner beef which is 90% lean you’ll still produce a great taste just with less fat.

Leaner varieties of beef will have nearly 20 grams less fat when uncooked. 

If you’re ready to take on the high-protein vegetarian challenge why not try using portobello or shiitake mushrooms for a substitute meat texture?

If you have any vegetarian protein sources such as tofu or jackfruit lying around, these also work really well. 

Mix Up Your Sides

One of the easiest ways to make your chili healthier and less calorific is to rethink your slides.

As much as the ones we’ve already talked about are delicious and full of flavor, they aren’t the healthiest option. 


 White rice is highly processed with the nutrient-rich core removed.

Swapping white rice for brown rice or another grain such as bulgar wheat or quinoa can be a great alternative, plus they are packed full of nutrition.

Sour Cream

Greek yogurt can be an ideal replacement for sour cream, as you still get the creamy texture with a lot less of the fat content.

Mixing the yogurt with herbs and spices can create a really similar sour cream experience. 


Instead of buying shop-bought guacamole, make your own healthier version with a little lime juice and some chopped tomatoes.

For an even lighter version, just cut up a few slices of avocado and serve on top of the chili. 

Final Thoughts 

Chili is a hearty family favorite that provides us with comfort as well as nourishment.

Some canned or homemade chilis can contain quite a few calories, especially when it comes to what you pile on top.

Try our healthy suggestions to reduce the fat and calorie content next time you’re cooking chili. 

We hope you found this article interesting and informative, giving you some fresh inspiration to make healthier food choices!

Jenna Priestly