November 07, 2017


This High Protein Beef Chili won a chili cook-off and it’s the first thing I crave when the weather gets chilly. My dad always used to make chili when we were kids (along with goulash, oyster stew, and rice pudding). I cherish his version, but I also love Wendy’s chili! So this version is kind of a mix between the two with extra protein, reduced sodium, extra veggies.

Did you know? Grass-fed beef typically contains less total fat and saturated fat than corn-fed beef, more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, more fat-soluble antioxidants (like vitamins A and E), and higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has fat-burning and anti-cancer benefits.


What do beef labels mean?

Your basic conventional beef tends to be higher in inflammatory omega-6 and saturated fats. Conventional cattle are often kept in crowded, unsanitary feed lots which requires them to be administered antibiotics. Conventional beef are also given growth hormones, which persists in the end product in small amounts.

Grass-fed cattle can be given growth hormones and antibiotics too; however, the use of antibiotics is less likely due to cleaner, more open living conditions. Grass-fed cattle must only be fed grass and hay from weaning to finish, but this does not always mean the animals had access to the outdoors. “Pasture-raised” means they had outdoor access for at least 120 days out of the year.

The label “all natural” just means the end product minimally processed without artificial ingredients, and the label “naturally raised” is no longer regulated by the USDA.


The only type of beef that cannot be administered antibiotics or growth hormones is “certified organic” beef. In addition, organic beef must be given certified organic feed – free of GMOs, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. They must also have year-round access to the outdoors, and be raised in a way that “accommodates their health and natural behavior.”

I choose organic beef when I can afford it (for the animal’s welfare), and always look for grass-fed (for my own health benefits).

Beef Substitutions

For this High Protein Chili recipe, I used 93% lean grass-fed ground beef. If you don’t have ground beef, you can use beef stew meat, ground turkey, rotisserie chicken, or ground chicken in this recipe. For a vegan version, use meatless crumbles or add two extra cans of beans.


Optional ingredients

If making the beef version, I like to add a little Worcestershire sauce for extra flavor, but it’s optional. Lea & Perrins brand is all natural and the best-tasting!

My dad always put celery in his chili, and I’ve really come to love it that way (celery is one of those under-rated flavors)! However, you don’t have to add it if you don’t like it.

The jalapeño and the cayenne pepper also add a little extra kick, but not too much. This is a medium-hot chili that most people will enjoy. That being said, if you prefer mild foods, leave out the jalapeño and cayenne.


A little sweetener or sugar mellows out the acidity of the tomatoes (recommended but not required). I prefer this sweetener because it has no sugar or artificial ingredients, but you can also use twice as much granulated sugar or brown sugar.

Last but not least… if you’re bringing this chili to a tail-gate party or a chili cook-off, I highly recommend a cup of beer in place of the water this recipe calls for 😉

Here’s the printable recipe for this High Protein Beef Chili. Kindly rate or comment below if you try it!

This post contains affiliate links.

High Protein Beef Chili

This healthy high protein beef chili has award-winning flavor (it won a chili cook-off)! It's also gluten-free and dairy-free, and easily made vegan.
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 442kcal


  • 2 lbs. 93% lean ground beef*
  • 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups bell pepper chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño chopped (optional)
  • 2 stalks celery chopped (optional)
  • 28 oz. can no salt added crushed tomatoes not drained
  • 2-15 oz. cans tri-color beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup water or beer
  • 3-4 tbsp. chili powder to taste
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. calorie-free sweetener* or sugar (optional)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

*See blog for substitutions.


    • Brown ground beef in a large saucepan or Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat (takes about 10 minutes). Drain off excess fat and liquid.
    • Add worcestershire sauce, onion, and garlic, cooking over medium heat until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
    • Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
    • Simmer over medium low-heat, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Adjust spices to taste.
    • For meal prep, divide into six equal portions by weight into sealed containers.
    • Garnish with nonfat Greek yogurt, cheese (can use dairy-free like VioLife), and green onions or chives if desired.
    • Store in the fridge up to one week or in the freezer up to one month.


    Calories (per serving, minus optionals): 442kcal, Fat: 11.9g, Sat fat: 4.1g, Carbs: 44g, Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 8g, Protein: 44g, Sodium: 420mg
    Calories (per serving, including optionals): 448kcal, Fat: 11.9g, Sat fat: 4.2g, Carbs: 45g, Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 9g, Protein: 44g, Sodium: 646mg

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