How To Determine Calories In Homemade Chili (2 Methods)

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As a Registered Dietitian, a common question I get during my consultations is how to measure a recipe with different homemade ingredients, like chili. 

Determining the portion size and the number of calories homemade chili has might feel like a challenging task. However, you can do it manually by using a spreadsheet, or now several apps can help you make this process easier. 

A calorie tracking app (like MacroFactor) can help you determine how many calories and macros a bowl of homemade chili has. It can also help you figure out portion sizes in order to meal prep and store individual portions. Also, it can help you learn which ingredients to add, substitute or remove based on your goals. 

In this article, you will learn the exact steps for calculating the calories in homemade chili. You will also learn tips on tracking calories in homemade chili to better suit your goals. 

Tracking Calories In Homemade Chili: The Manual Method

The first method is to do it manually by using a spreadsheet and finding the nutritional value through a website like the US Department of Agriculture

Here are the four simple steps for you to calculate the nutritional content of your homemade chili: 

Step One: Create A Spreadsheet

Click to make a copy of this spreadsheet

Manual method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step one - create a spreadsheet

Before you start figuring out how many calories it has, you need to create a document to record everything. 

You can create it in a spreadsheet or write it down on a piece of paper. 

Step Two: Measure Everything

Now you need to measure all the ingredients. 

I typically recommend measuring it in standard cooking units (cups, teaspoons, or tablespoons), but it is more accurate if you can measure the weight of each ingredient. 

You can get a food scale like this one on Amazon, which will get the job done. 

For example, if the recipe called for ½ a cup of black beans, you would place ½ of black beans on the food scale and then record the number on your spreadsheet. 

Step Three: Use Website To Determine Calories and Macros

Once you measure every ingredient, it is time to write down the calories and the macros for each component. You can use this website to search for every food in your recipe. 

  • You use the search bar at the website to put the food you are searching for. 
  • Put the ingredient that you are looking for and hit search. There you will get a list of several foods that contain that ingredient. For example, if you put “beans” this is one of the search results. 
Manual method tracking calories in homemade chili: list of several foods that contain that ingredient.
  • Select the food that goes according to the ingredient that you are using. For example, if you are using pinto beans for your homemade chili, select “beans, dry, pinto.” Always make sure that you choose the correct cooking method. In some of them, you will find the food “raw” and, in other cases, “cooked.” Once you click on the food, it will display the nutritional content. 
nutritional content of beans, dry pinto
  • In the portion section, you can display the nutritional content either in 100 g of the food or in different measurements. Choose the one that is more appropriate for the amount in your recipe. In this case, it only displays the information for 100 g of food. Now it’s time to calculate the macros and calories. If you are using 100 g of food, use the content displayed. If you use 200 g of beans, multiply it by 2, and so on. 
  • Add the information in each column of your spreadsheet to display the information in a simpler format. 

Step Four: Add Everything

When you have all the information for each of the foods in your homemade chili recipe, you add up everything to get the total calories, carbs, protein, fiber, and fats. 

Tracking Calories In Homemade Chili: The Automated Method

Calculating your homemade chili manually can be a hassle. It might take more time than you are willing to spend. Thus, calorie tracking apps can help you speed up the process. 

My calorie tracking app of choice is MacroFactor because it has the most extensive food database out of any other calorie app I’ve tested.  It’s also extremely user-friendly, which is important if you’ve never tracked calories using an app before (read my complete review of MacroFactor if you’d like to learn more).   

If you want to use MacroFactor, you can get two weeks free by using the code FEASTGOOD.  Download on either the App Store or Google Play.

Apps Store
Google play

Here is a step-by-step guide on using a tracking app to calculate your homemade chili. I used the recipe from The Recipe Critic as an example. 

Step One: Go To Recipes

Click on the + sign at the bottom of the screen and select “Your Recipes.” There you will find your created recipes if you want to get back to them.  However, we’ll be starting a new recipe from scratch.  

Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 1 - go to recipes
Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 1 - go to recipes  (dashboard)

Step Two: Create New Recipe

Click on the + sign at the top right corner to create a new recipe. 

Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 2 -Click on the + sign at the top right corner to create a new recipe. 

Step Three: Add Ingredients

You can either scan a food if it has a barcode or manually search for them. It will show all the foods that have that same word. For example, searching for “pinto beans” has the following search results. 

Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 3 - add ingredients
Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 3 - create recipe

Step Four: Select the Ingredient

Once you see the food that resembles what you are looking for, click on it. 

Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 4 - Once you see the food that resembles what you are looking for, click on it. 

Step Five: Modify The Content 

If you click below the food, you can modify it if you want the food measured in grams, teaspoons, cups, ounces, pounds, or any other measurement. Select the one you find most suitable. Once you have it in the chosen measurement, add how much you added to the recipe. 

Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 5 - modify the content 

Step Six: Add All Ingredients

Repeat the same steps with the rest of the ingredients. Once you have added them, click on the check mark on the top right corner to save the recipe. Now you have the calories for the entire recipe. 

Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 6 - add all ingredients
Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 6 - add all ingredients (custom foods)

Step Seven: Modify The Servings

At the bottom of the screen, you can modify the servings either by weight or by the number of servings. For example, if you want eight servings for the entire recipe, put the number “8.”

Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 7 - modify the servings
Automated method tracking calories in homemade chili: Step 7 - modify the servings by number

Other Tips When Tracking Calories In Homemade Chili

Modify Ingredients

Once you have created the recipe, it is easier to adjust according to your goals. 

For example, if you are on a weight loss journey, you might want to decrease high calories in foods like beans or potatoes and add more non-starchy veggies like mushrooms or carrots. 

On the other hand, if you want to put some weight on, you might add more olive oil or add an extra ingredient like potatoes. 

How To Store It?

Since you are making it in bulk, you might want to store them in individual portions, making them easier to grab and reheat. For example, if you divide the recipe into eight portions, place them in individual containers and store them in the freezer, hopefully in airtight containers. 

Measure By Grams

If you don’t want to store it in individual portions and store it in bulk, meaning you take a couple of scoops for your mealtime. You can place the chili in a bowl and measure the grams in that portion size. 

First, you need to weigh the entire recipe. Once you have that weight add it at the bottom of the screen under “weight” and put 1 serving size.

Determining the calories in homemade chili Measure by grams: First, you need to weigh the entire recipe. Once you have that weight add it at the bottom of the screen under “weight” and put 1 serving size.

Once you want to log a food, swipe right on the recipe and click on log. 

Determining the calories in homemade chili Measure by grams: Once you want to log a food, swipe right on the recipe and click on log. 

Click on the recipe and select grams. 

Determining the calories in homemade chili Measure by grams: Click on the recipe and select grams. 

Input how many grams was the bowl of chili, and there it will calculate how many calories and macros it has. 

Determining the calories in homemade chili Measure by grams: put how many grams was the bowl of chili, and there it will calculate how many calories and macros it has. 

Track Every Additional Ingredient

Remember to track everything you put on top of your chili. For example, if you add some avocado or sour cream on top. Make sure to count those portions on your tracking app since they add on the calories and the macros. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How To Figure Out What A “Serving” Of Chili Is?

The serving size depends on the calories and macros you need for each meal. If the homemade chili recipe has 1000 kcal, but you need 250 kcal per mealtime, divide the recipe into 4 servings. The same applies to macros. If the recipe has 60g of carbs and needs 30g in every meal, you split the recipe into two portions. 

How To Track Other Homemade Foods

Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it: two ways to determine the calories in homemade chili.   

If you want to learn more about chili, specifically on whether eating chili can help you put on muscle, then check out my article: Is Chili Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?


About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.