Chili Americano (plus your very own American chili powder recipe!)

It’s been a while since we posted one of our own recipes, so here’s two rolled into one. Read on for our Chili Americano plus our American Chili Powder recipes…

Chili is traditionally a Mexican dish.* Macaroni is traditionally Italian. But if you mix the two together, you get a good ol’ fashioned American dish. Now, chili and pasta might not sound like a tasty combo, but trust us; our Chili Americano is a fabulous melting pot of flavour – the perfect comfort food for a rainy day in Northern England. 🙂 

(Scroll to the footnotes for the chili powder blend.)


Serves 4 – 6 (possibility of leftovers – chilli always makes a great leftover!)

1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil

1 medium-large yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper (any colour), diced (optional)

2-3 green or red chillies, thinly sliced (optional)

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 tbsp (American!) chili powder **

1 tbsp dried oregano

1-2 tsp ground cumin

A pinch of ground cloves (optional)

Several pinches of black pepper

1 tsp salt, plus more if needed

4-5 cups of water, plus more as needed***

1 cup green lentils &/or 1 cup soy mince****

1 cup (or 400g can)  of kidney or pinto beans*****

1 cup (or 400g can) of black beans

2 400g cans of chopped tomatoes

2  cups Macaroni pasta

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tbsp maple syrup

½ – 1 cup grated cheddar cheese / Engevita yeast flakes (optional)

That’s a long list of ingredients, but we promise this is a very straightforward and easy-to-make dish (once the beans are soaked and the chili powder is blended). Best of all, most of the ingredients (with the exception of the fresh veggies, onion powder, canned tomatoes, maple syrup, water and cheese) can be picked up in one easy stop at your local zero waste shop, Another Weigh. 🙂

In addition to being a very easy dish to make, chili is also (mostly) fool-proof. As with all of the recipes we share, there are no hard and fast rules here; we wholeheartedly encourage you to get creative and experiment with different flavours and ingredients. That said, please pay attention to the asterisks in the ingredients list, as there are some things worth noting before you start. Cue footnotes!


*Texans will claim they invented chili, but its true origin is Mexico.

**Mucho Importante (American Chili Powder Recipe):

If you’ve ever had chili in the states, you might have noticed that it tastes a heck of a lot different than any chili you’ve likely had on this side of the pond. That might have something to do with the fact that the chili powder sold in Europe ain’t the same chili powder that Americans use. In fact, if you’ve ever tried following an American chili recipe only to find that it was inedibly spicy (because it called for 3-4 tbs chili powder!), that’s likely because you confused the two – a very easy mistake to make! Been there, done that!

As we’ve found out the hard (spicy!) way, European chili powder is in essence ground chili pepper! However, American chili powder is a blend of the following ingredients: paprika powder, dried oregano, cumin powder, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper.

Please note that the chili powder used in our chili recipe is the American variety. However, it’s dead easy to make your own American chili powder blend. In fact, if you regularly make chilis or other dishes that call for American chili powder, we strongly recommend making a big batch of your own blend to keep on hand. Here’s a quick & easy micro-recipe for making your own stash:

½ cup paprika (we prefer using smoked paprika!)

2 tbsp oregano

2 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder (unfortunately, this is the only dried ingredient that we don’t currently stock at Another Weigh)

2 tsp cayenne pepper (note that this is the smallest quantity of all the ingredients!)

Just chuck all the ingredients into a clean, dry glass jar, screw on the lid, give it a good shake and voila! You’re back in the game! 🙂

***Maybe just start with 4 cups of water and thin it from there as needed. It’s hard to tell how much it might cook down, but it’s easier to thin a chili than it is to thicken it.

****You can use either a cup of green lentils or a cup of soy mince or a mix of the two (½ cup lentils with ½ cup soy mince) which is what I like to do. Remember also that these quantities are really only suggestions; if you like a thicker (meatier) chili, add more than a cup. You can always add more water later if necessary.

*****If you don’t want to faff with two different kinds of beans, you can use either kidney or black beans. While it’s maybe easier to use canned beans, you can’t beat the flavour of reconstituted dried beans. Just make sure you soak the beans at least 24 hours in advance. Black beans can take an especially long time to properly soak.


Pre-heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the diced onions and saute until golden. This is also a good time to add your salt. Start with a teaspoon; you can always add more later if you think it needs it. Once the onions are starting to smell delicious, add in the diced bell pepper and chillies. Continue sauteing until the onion starts to turn translucent.

Add in the minced garlic and saute another minute or until fragrant. Then add your American Chili powder (maybe start with 3 tablespoons and go from there), oregano, ground cumin, black pepper and cloves. Stir everything together, allowing the spices to coat the onions and toast a bit.

Add 4 cups of water (I use boiling water from the kettle) and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. At this point you can add the lentils &/or soy mince (or both). Cover the pot and let boil for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next add the canned tomatoes, beans and macaroni and give everything a big stir. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the pasta is cooked, you’re almost done.

Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and maple syrup. Give it a taste to see where things are at. Here’s where you can add more salt if necessary. However, this is one of those dishes that just gets better the longer it sits. Leftovers are almost guaranteed to taste better than first helpings.

Wait! We almost forgot! The final step: For a truly decadent bowl of American chili, garnish your serving with a healthy handful of grated cheddar cheese. Or if you’d like to keep it vegan, just sprinkle on some tasty Engevita yeast flakes and dig in!