One of our favorite green tomato recipes! A tangy twist on classic beef chili. Green tomatoes are swapped for traditional ripe red tomatoes then combined with ground beef, pinto beans, and poblano peppers for an irresistible chili recipe that uses us all of the green tomatoes still in the garden come fall. Use tomatillos to make this delicious chili the rest of the year! Hearty comfort food.
Calling all gardeners!
It’s almost fall and I’ve got buckets of green unripe tomatoes on my hands. I’ve been rapidly thinking of ways to use them. My conclusion?
A tangy Green Tomato Chili! What better to cut through the spice and beefy-richness of chili than some sharp green tomatoes?
what are green tomatoes?
First of all when I say green tomatoes what I mean are unripened red tomatoes. If you’ve grown tomato plants in your garden you know what I mean.
Tomatoes start out green, grow to size, and then become ripe tomatoes in a shade of red or green or yellow or even purple depending on what variety of tomato it is.
If you live in a climate where it gets cool in the fall, you may notice that some of those tomatoes never ripen completely and have to be harvested green before the first frost sets in.
Green tomatoes are great to cook with, I’ve been making this Green Tomato, Sausage and Rice Soup but I’ve always wanted to try pickling green tomatoes but those are still to come. What have you made with green tomatoes? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to know!
A lot of people turn these tart tomatoes into green tomato chutney, green tomato relish, green tomato pie, and more. We turned them into this divine chili recipe.
You can also find green tomatoes in the summer at Farmer’s Markets and some grocery stores. So if you really fall in love with their crunchy, tart taste you might look out for them there.
what if i can’t find green tomatoes
I’ve deduced that anywhere a green tomato would work, so would a tomatillo. Tomatillos have a similar texture and tartness as green tomatoes and they are much easier to find. They look similar to a green tomato, but are covered by a papery husk and can be found in most grocery stores and all Latin markets.
Using tomatillos also means you can make this tart and earthy chili any time of year!
Although green tomatoes are the star of the show, this chili has all the other classic ingredients that makes chili so craveable: juicy ground beef, lots of spices, aromatic veggies, and beans.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Olive oil or vegetable oil
- White onion, mince more for garnish—I love that bite of crunch on top.
- Poblano peppers are preferred but green bells or even red bell peppers would work.
- Jalapeños. Take the seeds out if you like things less spicy.
- Ground beef. You could also substitute small pieces of beef stew meat here if you like a chunkier texture.
- Chili powder. Use mild chili powder or a chili powder that’s made from only one chili like guajillo chili powder or for a smoky, spicy kick; chipotle chili powder.
- Ground cumin
- Dried oregano. I prefer dried Mexican oregano or even dried epazote is delicious.
- Smoked paprika
- Ground coriander
- Dried pinto beans
- Green tomatoes
- Chicken broth
- Kosher salt
Read on for optional garnish ideas!
how to make green tomato chili
This recipe, like any chili, is pretty easy and super comforting. Bonus? Also, naturally gluten free! So yay for that.
Because this recipe calls for dried pinto beans, the first step is to soak the beans overnight. You don’t have to do this, but the beans will cook quicker if you do. If you’ve forgotten to soak them, you can give them a quick rinse and use them right away, but the chili may take up to an hour longer to cook.
Next step is to sauté the vegetables. Typically I would tell you to season the veggies with salt and pepper as you add them to the pot but because we are cooking with dried beans we don’t want to add any salt until the end. Salt keeps the beans from getting tender.
Once the veggies are soft and starting to caramelize, brown the meat and add the spices. It’s nice to let the spices toast in the oil for a minute. These two steps should take about 20 minutes.
Add the beans and the remaining ingredients (except the cilantro and salt) and simmer, covered until the beans are tender, about 2 hours.
Taste a bean to see if it is tender and no longer crunchy in the middle. If they are cooked all the way through, season the chili with salt and continue cooking for another hour or so to really let all the flavors combine.
Stir in the cilantro right before serving and dig in!
- To make this Green Tomato Chili vegetarian you could omit the ground beef altogether or add more vegetables like chopped zucchini, shredded kale, or beet greens in the last 15-20 minutes of cooking.
- Use canned pinto beans in place of the dried. Add the canned beans in step 3 like you would with the dried beans but only cook another 30 minutes.
- Swap out ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef.
- Add a 1/4 cup of mole paste in with the chicken stock for added spice and richness.
what to serve with it
I can’t have chili without cornbread—it just doesn’t seem right. This is our go-to super simple cornbread which can be made into muffins or in a loaf and sliced.
For something completely different, try Zoe Nathan’s Buttermilk Cornbread recipe which I haven’t decided if it’s a cake or a cornbread but it’s pretty darn delicious.
now for my favorite part of chili: the garnishes!
You can really let your imagination run wild here. It’s fun to set out all the garnishes at the table like a “garnish bar” and have everyone dress up their bowl of chili just how they like it.
As far as I’m concerned there are three important garnish categories and the perfect bowl of chili needs to have at least one garnish from each to be labeled a success.
They are as follow:
- Fresh and Crunchy
- minced white onion
- thinly sliced scallion
- fresh cilantro leaves
- Grated aged white cheddar cheese
- sour cream
- sliced avocado
- Bright and Spicy
- Hot Sauce
- Lime wedges for a squeeze of lime juice over the top
- Thinly sliced jalapenos
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- Red Pork Pozole
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what’s in your green tomato chili bowl?
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