3-Ingredient Microwave Mug Chili

An easy lunch – or dinner for one – this hearty chili satisfies your craving for a steamy mug of chili – in just a minute or two. Pile on the toppings of your choice to go waaay beyond 3-ingredient! 

3-Ingredient Microwave Mug Chili | @TspCurry
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3-Ingredient Microwave Mug Chili

It’s been hard to wait til ‘soup season’ to post this healthy and super-filling chili recipe. I’ve been making this easy mug chili – often – for my lunch since last spring.

But here it is!

Microwave Mug Chili | @tspcurry

And the hardest thing is keeping the 3-ingredients in your pantry – because they are pantry staples that probably get used up fast for other recipes too. Here are the magical three:

  • Salsa – use a thicker-style salsa. A more watery pico de gallo doesn’t work as well. Use low-sodium versions if you wish. Salsa is a nutrition power-house with the heart-healthy nutrient lycopene. And 1/2-cup of salsa counts as 1-serving of veggies.
  • Chili beans – my kids’ favorite chili beans are actually black beans – and Bush’s makes the best in my humble opinion. But you could also use kidney beans or chili beans. Sometimes you can find a low-sodium version. Beans contain fiber and B-vitamins; and when fewer fruits are in season in winter, I find it harder to fit fiber into my and my kids’ meals; but it’s essential.
  • Optional: Refried beans – these are optional – but just a spoonful thickens up the chili nicely. Look for vegetarian versions or fat-free versions which don’t have a lot of added lard or fat.

3-Ingredient Microwave Mug Chili | @TspCurry

Now we have to talk about toppings. The sky is the limit – and this will make your lunch go way beyond three ingredients. But since they’re all add-ons, go for it! I like:

  • Avocado – more added nutrition in terms of antioxidants and good fats and fiber
  • Plain Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream – Greek yogurt has the most nutrition, and the most delicious tang
  • Cilantro – add lots of this herb for good greens in the chilly months
  • Cheddar cheese – I like Cabot low-fat Cheddar

Now grab a spoon, these three ingredients, and you’ve got lunch!

Easy lunch. Quick (healthy!) dinner: 3-Ingredient Microwave Mug Chili via @TspCurry Click To Tweet Print

3-Ingredient Microwave Mug Chili

Just 3-ingredients and you’ve got an easy lunch or quick dinner for one. This recipe can easily be multiplied to serve more – or be warmed in a pot on the stove.

  • Author: Serena Ball


  • Half a mug-full of salsa (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 mug-full of chili beans (undrained)
  • 1 tablespoon refried beans
  • Toppings: chopped avocado, plain Greek yogurt, cilantro, shredded Cheddar cheese



In a microwave-safe mug, mix salsa, chili beans, and refried beans. Microwave on high for about 45-seconds to 1 minute, or until hot.

Top with toppings of your choice.

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We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

We're also moms and business owners who share our family recipes, healthy kitchen hacks and nutrition adventures while keeping it real in the kitchen with you.

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