By chili we can mean both “Chili Sauce” and the well-known dish “Chili con Carne “.

The term “chili” is Spanish and derives in turn from “chīlli”, which in the Nāhuatl (Aztec) language indicates chili pepper ; as you can easily imagine, the fruit of this native South American plant represents a characteristic ingredient of both preparations.

Chili sauce

Chili sauce is nothing more than a condiment made from chili pepper and (often but not always) red tomato . Based on the level of spiciness, the sauce can be very spicy (hot), sweet (sweet) or mixed (spicy and sweet, with different intensities); obviously, to obtain a sweet flavour, chili sauces are enriched with sucrose , glucose or fructose , granular or in syrup, which also makes them more viscous (an example is given by Thai Sauce or Sweet Chili Sauce).
Chili is mainly used as a sauce in which to dip foods , as a glazing sauce and as a marinating sauce ; Thai (sweet) is widely used in Thai cuisine and is sometimes included in Japanese sushi recipes .
The ingredients for chili sauce are: puree or pieces of chili peppers, vinegar , sugar (sucrose, glucose, or fructose), and salt ( sodium chloride ); the process involves cooking , mixing, thickening and packaging. Other additional chili sauce ingredients could be water , garlic , corn syrup , spices , and flavorings; sometimes, the main element is the red tomato, but ” green chili sauce”, based only on green chili pepper, are also known.
Chili sauce is a particularly popular packaged food; the “HJ Heinz Company” is one of the main producers of red chili pepper sauce in the USA and provides two levels of spiciness: grade A (Fancy) and grade C (US standard and less spicy).

Chilli with beef

In the UK and USA, chilli con carne (chili with meat) is often simply referred to as “chilli”. It is a “stew” type recipe based on: chili pepper, meat ( beef ), fat and, often, tomatoes and beans ; sometimes, it is enriched with garlic, cumin and onions , and there is no shortage of geographical variations. On the other hand, some believe that the noun “chili” can only be attributed to the basic traditional recipe; in this regard, the beans, added only at a later stage (as well as the tomatoes etc.), have been objected to by numerous experts on the dish.
The original chili con carne recipe would be based on dried beef , suet ( kidney fat ), dried chili pepper, and salt; the ingredients must be pounded and pressed, dried and boiled.

The dish was made famous thanks to the “Columbian Exposition of Chicago”, a world fair held in 1893 to celebrate 400 years since the discovery of America; within the event, the “San Antonio Chili Stand” made the American public in the south-west appreciate the taste of the recipe; it is no coincidence that today, chili con carne (Texas-style Chili, composed only of beef and chili pepper) is officially the national dish of the State of Texas.
There are also contemporary variations and alternatives of chili con carne. One of these is the vegan version , or “chili without meat”; in this case the beef muscle is replaced by tofu (or tempeh or wheat muscle or mopur etc.) and the suet by vegetable oils . Another variation is Mexican “chili verde con carne”, which is extremely spicy and usually made with pork with chicken broth and roasted green chilies. Finally, how can we not mention the “white chili con carne”, made with white beans and turkey or chicken breast . Chili con carne goes very well with tortillas , but can also be accompanied with white rice or semolina pasta . Chili con carne is also an extremely popular packaged food, in cans or bricks.

Nutritional Characteristics

The nutritional characteristics of chili sauce cannot be unified, as they essentially depend on the recipe of the product. Generally, these are foods that are not advisable in case of suffering from the gastric mucosa or irritable colon . Furthermore, sweet sauces contain very high quantities of simple sugars which, if in excess, tend to alter the nutritional balance of the diet.
The same goes for chili con carne. Even leaving aside the innovative versions, analyzing a product based on chilli pepper and beef compared to another also made up of beans and tomato, the nutritional picture changes significantly. The variety with legumes and other vegetables provides fewer calories , less protein , more fiber , more carbohydrates , more antioxidants and a different salt profile. The mineral salts most present in this version compared to the basic recipe are potassium , magnesium and calcium , while iron , in addition to being not very abundant, is also less bioavailable . Being cooked, chili with vegetables and legumes does not benefit from the higher initial concentration of vitamin C , while the B vitamins are lower than the recipe with more meat.
Below, by way of example, we publish the nutritional values ​​of two different products: chili with meat and beans, and spicy chili sauce.

Nutritional values

Canned Chili with Carne and Beans Canned Hot Red Chili Sauce
Edible part 100% 100%
Waterfall 74.3g 94.1g
Proteins 7.1g 0.9g
Prevalent amino acids
Limiting amino acid
Lipids TOT 4.3g 0.6g
Saturated fatty acids 1.74g 0.08g
Monounsaturated fatty acids 2.14g 0.41g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 0.43g 0.07g
Cholesterol 63.0mg 65.0mg
TOT carbohydrates 11.4g 3.9g
Starch 11.4g 1.3g
Soluble sugars 0.0g 2.6g
Ethyl alcohol 0.0g 0.0g
Dietary fibre 3.9g 0.7g
Soluble fiber – g – g
Insoluble fibre – g – g
Power 109.9kcal 23.6kcal
Sodium 424.0mg 25.0mg
Potassium 274.0mg 564.0mg
Iron 2.6mg 0.5mg
Soccer 38.0mg 9.0mg
Phosphorus 97.0mg 205.0mg
Thiamine 0.05mg 0.01mg
Riboflavin 0.10mg 0.09mg
Niacin 0.97mg 0.60mg
Vitamin A (RAE) 0.0µg 23.0µg
vitamin 1.4mg 30.0mg
Vitamin E 0.0mg 0.36mg