Gluten pops in in the most unexpected places, including chili seasoning, so I came up with my own gluten-free chili recipe.
“Uuuuggghhhh,” I groan. “Get me a wheelbarrow. I can’t get up from the table.” My husband shakes his head at this familiar scene. “That fourth bowl of chili was a mistake,” I say. “Delicious, but a mistake.”
I love chili, can you tell? It’s one of my favorite comfort foods. I had approximately 1 bajillion tomatoes growing in my garden, and as I contemplated what to do with them, my gluten-free chili recipe immediately came to mind. We absolutely love to eat chili in the cooler months, and I keep it in the freezer as a quick and easy meal on busy nights. It often feeds us two meals that week because if we end up with a little left over, later that week we will have chili dogs and top with cheese, mustard, jalapeños, and onions.
Chili was a staple in our home growing up, and when my family (all 6 kids + 6 spouses + 24 grandkids) get together, my mom makes a big pot of chili to feed the crowd. I want mine to taste just like my mom’s, but hers calls for McCormick Chili Seasoning, which has wheat in it as a thickener. Gluten is not my friend, so I went without chili for a while. I tried other recipes, and I still wanted my mom’s. I finally have a chili seasoning mix that tastes just like it, and every year I use my garden tomatoes to make a huge batch of chili and freeze it for quick and easy meals.
Now, you take my favorite chili recipe and add a few toppings that take it from, “Mmmmm, that’s good,” to “I need to get more of this in my mouth right now!!” What’s my secret? Corn chips, sour cream, tomatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, jalapeños, green onions, and a shovel to eat it with. And that is how I end up four bowls deep and waddling from the table.
Gluten-free Chili seasoning mix
1/3 cup chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like spice)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Mix very well and store in an air-tight container in your cupboard.
Gluten-Free Chili Recipe
Here is the scaled down version of the recipe I make (unless 18 quarts is what you’re after…)
1 pound ground beef (I use ground turkey because I need to watch my fats and I’m getting more than I need from the corn chips)
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15-oz can of chili beans (check the labels for gluten as a thickener)
15-oz can of tomato sauce
1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes
3 tbsp of seasoning (to taste)
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated (vegan cheese options are available. I prefer flavor over meltiness for this dish)
Sour cream (for dairy-free use a vegan sour cream, or sliced avocados. They are cold and creamy and serve a similar mouth-feel purpose)
Diced fresh tomatoes
Jalapeño slices (if you want more heat)
Brown and crumble the ground beef/turkey. When halfway done, add the diced tomatoes and garlic and continue to brown. When cooked, drain the fat as well as possible. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chili beans, and seasonings and allow to simmer. Chili is like spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and potato salad. The flavors mingle as they simmer/refrigerate and taste best the next day. If you are making this for the same day, start it in the morning and put it in the slow cooker to simmer all day. Or even all afternoon. If you have an Instant Pot, you can do all the steps in one pan because it has a sauté function.
FREEZER TIP: I leave out the beans when freezing and add them when I heat the chili to serve. Freezing them makes them mushy.
REHEATING TIP: Put the frozen chili and beans in the slow cooker to heat up. The flavors will continue to mingle and get even more delicious. If you need it reheated faster, do it on the stove top.
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