Low-Carb/Keto Chili

The Boat Galley
By Carolyn Shearlock

Chili has always been a cool-weather staple. Then I became diabetic a little over a year ago and learned that beans were totally off limits as were any quantity of tomatoes over one slice (or two cherry tomatoes). I follow a very low carb way of eating (generally 12 to 15 grams of carbs — total, not net — per day). The good news is that my blood sugar is in excellent control — you can read more about how this allows me to lead the life I wish in Cruising with Diabetes. So my old chili recipe was totally off limits.

Last winter, as I was learning about my new way of eating, I didn’t try to come up with a low-carb chili. But as the weather got chilly this fall, I decided to try. And I came up with a recipe that isn’t just make-do, it’s great. Dave and non-diabetic friends who came over for dinner have loved it.

Side note: Dave is allergic to all milk products and loved it even without the sour cream and cheese on top. And since you’re not using a commercial taco seasoning, it’s gluten-free as well.

See recipe notes for further notes on ingredients and special alerts for diabetics.

Low-Carb/Keto Chili

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

Cool weather comfort food without all the carbs contained in beans, tomatoes and many taco seasonings. Delicious and not just a make-do!

Course: Main Dish

Cuisine: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Keto/LCHF, Make-Ahead, Mexican/Southwestern

Servings: 2

Calories: 751 kcal


  • 4 strips bacon
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/4 cup green or red pepper, diced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • dash jalapeno powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 cherry tomatoes


  1. Cut bacon into 1″ pieces and fry until crisp. Remove from pan, leaving grease.
  2. While bacon is cooking, slice green onions. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the sliced green parts for garnish.
  3. Add ground beef and un-reserved green onion to bacon grease and chop with the side of a spoon. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until almost cooked through.
  4. While ground beef is cooking, chop green or red peppers. Reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish.
  5. Add remaining peppers, spices and cooked bacon to ground beef. Turn heat to low and cook 20 minutes to let flavors blend and develop. Stir occasionally.
  6. Shred cheese while chili is cooking. Slice or dice cherry tomatoes.
  7. To serve, place chili into bowls and top with shredded cheese, sour cream, reserved peppers, and green onions.

Notes, Substitutions and Variations

Ingredient notes, particularly for diabetics:

Bacon: Most bacon is sugar-cured. Use uncured or salt-cured bacon if possible; otherwise look for bacon with less than 1g of sugar per serving.

Sour Cream: Use full-fat sour cream as it has less tendency to spike blood sugar. However, if you cannot tolerate dairy, omit it.

Cheddar cheese: You can use any type of cheese that you prefer, as long as it does not spike your blood sugar. Shred your own with a grater; commercially shredded cheese is coated with a starch to keep it from sticking together and that starch will raise the carb count and impact your blood sugar. Again, omit if you cannot tolerate dairy.

Sweet peppers: Do not use yellow peppers as they have considerably more sugars than green or red peppers.

Spices: vary quantities to taste. If you do not have jalapeno powder, use additional cayenne (buy jalapeno powder on Amazon if your local store does not carry it). Use less or omit the cayenne and jalapeno for a milder chili.

Zucchini: omit for an even lower carb version – just 4g per serving.

Tomato: If you do not have cherry tomatoes, use 2 tablespoons diced tomato. Limit your portion carefully as tomatoes contain a lot of sugar. Omit tomato and cut out 1g carb per serving.

Ground beef: vary amount to suit your needs.

Accompaniments: This is great with my Keto Bread and the Keto/Low-Carb version of my Greek Salad IF it works with your carb limits per meal.

Nutrition Facts

Low-Carb/Keto Chili

Amount Per Serving

Calories 751 Calories from Fat 558

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 62g 95%

Saturated Fat 25g 125%

Cholesterol 179mg 60%

Sodium 534mg 22%

Potassium 843mg 24%

Total Carbohydrates 6g 2%

Dietary Fiber 1g 4%

Sugars 3g

Protein 40g 80%

Vitamin A 17.2%

Vitamin C 38.4%

Calcium 18.2%

Iron 24.6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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