Fresh-Tomato Chili ♥ Recipe

Fresh-Tomato Chili ♥, top all your chili bowls with fresh tomatoes! Low Carb. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Slow Cooker, Oven or Stovetop.
Today's recipe: A meaty homemade chili made with fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes, a great way to use up a surplus of garden tomatoes, especially late in the season when it's cooled down a bit too. Most of all, fresh tomatoes served on top of chili are wonderful!

Three Cooking Options: "Slow Cook" on the Stove or "Slow Cook" in the Oven or Use an Actual Crockpot. Fresh & Seasonal. A Late-Summer Classic. Great for Meal Prep. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly & Freestyle Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly.

At the farmers market on Saturday, the woman selling tomatoes reported that for years, she fought off Vicious Tomato Fiends aka Box Turtles. Even one turtle, she said, can ravage a good garden because it will reach up, take one bite, then move onto the next tomato and take another bite! Don't turtles know about the Clean Plate Club?! Or food waste?

Anyway our garden must be turtle-free because it's still producing Roma tomatoes like crazy. Last week we picked a huge basketful and I wanted to use a bunch, asap. Here's what I learned:

Do Fresh Tomatoes from the Garden Make Great Homemade Chili?

Yes, fresh tomatoes make a great chili – no better than canned tomatoes but still, a great chili. If you have lots of tomatoes to use up, yeah, for sure, make chili. But chili made with fresh tomatoes isn't much different than chili made with canned tomatoes.
A great chili topped with really good fresh garden tomatoes? Now that's special! We loved how the deep/dark/spicy/spiced chili contrasted with the cool/wet/fresh tomatoes. Gorgeous, will totally do this again!

How to Substitute Fresh Tomatoes for Canned Tomatoes in Chili

It's a 1:1 substitution, just substitute a pound of fresh tomatoes for every 15-ounce can of tomatoes.
Really ripe tomatoes may need a little trimming, you don't want any bruised spots going into the chili pot.
There's really no need to blanch the tomatoes to remove the tomato skins. The skins cook off and melt into the chili since it cooks so long.

Updated in 2019. First published way back in 2015.


Hands-on time: 40 minutes up front
Cooking time: 2 - 6 hours
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 12 cups

2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried dill
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle
Generous grind, freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 green pepper, chopped fine
2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 medium tomatillos, chopped fine
3 ears corn, kernels only (how to cut corn off the cob)
1 quart beef stock

Chopped fresh tomato
Chopped fresh avocado

CHILI SPICES Stir spices together in a bowl.

CHILI In a large Dutch oven, cook meat until beginning to brown; there should be enough fat in the ground beef that it shouldn't stick but if it does, add a splash or two of water. Add the onion and green pepper, let cook, stirring often, until onions begin to turn color; don't rush this step, rich flavor is the reward of the patient! Once the meat is brown and the onions are turning golden, stir in the Chili Spices, distributing evenly.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomatillos and corn and bring to a boil. Add beef stock and bring back to a boil.

TO "SLOW COOK" ON THE STOVE If your stove can maintain a slow simmer, this is a great option and your house will smell great! Cover the Dutch oven and let simmer on very low heat, checking and stirring occasionally to make sure it's not simmering too hard/too little, about 2 - 3 hours. Uncover and and let simmer until the chili has reduced to the desired consistency.

TO "SLOW COOK" IN THE OVEN If your stove is too hot to maintain a slow simmer without burning, cover the Dutch oven and place the chili in an oven heated to 200F/100C. Let "slow cook" for 4 - 6 hours. Uncover the chili and let continue slow cooking in the oven until the chili has reduced to the desired consistency; to hurry this process, you can put the chili back on the stove and let simmer with the lid off on low heat, stirring often to prevent the bottom from burning.

TO COOK IN A SLOW COOKER Transfer chili to a slow cooker, cover and cook on high for an hour, then on low for 4 - 6 hours. Uncover the chili and let continue to cook in the slow cooker for an hour or so until the chili has reduced to the desired consistency.

However the chili has been cooked, cover and refrigerate until the next day, allowing flavors to meld.

TO SERVE Rewarm the chili. Ladle into bowls, top with fresh tomatoes and avocado cubes.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Most chilis really do better made one day and served the next.

LEFTOVERS The leftover reheat beautifully, just rewarm for a minute or two in the microwave.

This chili is pretty spicy, not "hot" but spicy. For tamer palates, you might cut the spices in half.
We like our chili thick, more like a stew than a soup, so I let it reduce quite a bit. You might like it thinner or for it to go further, if so, just reduce it as much as you want.
ZERO-POINT CHILI! Weight Watchers, make Fresh-Tomato Chili even Freestyle-friendlier by substituting ground chicken or ground turkey for ground beef. That would be a zero-point chili!

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Alanna Kellogg

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  1. Yum! looks really delicious. Thanks!

  2. Yum, thank you for the recipe! I needed to use up some garden tomatoes and peppers. I was a little nervous about leaving the skins and seeds in the tomatoes, and using a mix of yellow, orange and red tomatoes, but it all worked out fine and was yummy. I was planning to throw in some butternut squash but forgot. I loved the smokiness of the chipotle powder!

    1. Hey “Anonymous” ~ So glad you like the chili! It’s on the menu for this weekend as fall does, indeed, turn things both chilly and chili!

  3. Not to overthink the recipe, but does it matter much if I don't have access to tomatillos?

    1. Hey! It never hurts to ask, right, even if chili is inherently adaptable. I like the tomatillos here because of their slight sourness. Midway, I'd taste it and see if you think a sour note is needed, if so, try a splash of vinegar, maybe balsamic, maybe sherry, maybe apple cider vinegar. Tomatillos also add volume to the chili so you might bulk up with another pepper or two or maybe a can or two of beans if you do beans in chili. Let me know how it goes! This is a great chili!! ~Alanna


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna