This Is the Only Premade Chili We Can Get Behind

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Rachel and Andy Berliner, the married co-founders of organic vegetarian food empire Amy’s Kitchen, are both in their late 60s, are longtime advocates of plant-based diets, and are worth millions and millions of dollars. Meanwhile, I’m a 30-something whose blood type is mostly bacon grease, and my own net worth depends on how many cans of La Croix are stacked in the fridge at any given time. (Right now, my personal fortune adds up to about $8).

All that aside, I feel a strong connection to the Berliners. In 1987, when Rachel was pregnant with her daughter Amy, she struggled to find frozen or ready-to-eat vegetarian meals that didn’t taste like slices of chilled cardboard. That inspired the California couple to start baking, turning their own home into a test kitchen for organic tofu pot pies. They soon transitioned from making pot pies in their kitchen, to making 14,000 pot pies every day, to running an all-organic business that generates an estimated $500 million in revenue every year.

But yeah, much like the Berliners, I struggled to find canned chili that had real flavor and didn’t taste, well, canned. When I don’t have a half-dozen deadlines stacked on top of each other, I make my own, but most of the time, I’m inspired to … buy Amy’s Organic Chili.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

I’ve written before about how Amy’s Kitchen is my go-to for frozen foods, and I feel the same way about the brand’s chili. Amy’s currently has six different varieties of chili: Organic Chili with Vegetables, Organic Medium Chili, Organic Spicy Chili, Organic Black Bean Chili, and low-in-sodium versions of the Medium and Spicy Chili. (Those cans legit cut the sodium in half, slicing it from 680 milligrams per serving to 340 milligrams).

All six styles are USDA organic, and all of them are fully vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and lactose-free. The ingredient lists are free from surprises too, as organic red beans, organic onions, and organic tofu are usually the top three items listed. (That’s not the case for the Organic Chili with Vegetables, which swaps the tofu for organic potatoes and corn.)

Amy’s has described the broth as “Mexican style” and, to me, it does taste more like … I dunno, an enchilada sauce than it does a “traditional” chili, but that’s also a big reason why I like it. My favorite is the Medium Chili, which has enough kick to wake up your tastebuds, but not so much that you’ll be blinking back tears and frantically wiping your tongue with a paper towel. (My boyfriend prefers the Spicy version, and neither of us care for the way-too-bland OG Organic Chili, which does taste a little like that paper towel.)

Buy: Amy’s Organic Medium Chili, $35 for 12, 14.7-ounce cans

“Have you ever noticed how something almost magic happens when you cook your own food from scratch?” Amy’s Kitchen asks. “How you connect with each ingredient and feel your way through each step of the creation? How you use your senses to make even the smallest adjustments toward perfection?”

Uh, no, I have not noticed any of that. But I’m glad the Berliners did — and I’m glad that the three of us have so much in common.

Do you agree? Or do you have another premade chili option to recommend?