Is It Chili or Chile or Chilli?

Oct 24th 2018

Ah yes... The English language... We have lots of rules — and just as many exceptions. And then of course there's the difference between American English and British English and various other variations. All this accounts for the confusion around a very simple word: chili. Or chile. Or chilli. Or something like that.

A consultation with Merriam-Webster suggests that, alas, all are correct. Their entry for the word is spelled chili, however, for whatever that may be worth. 

Here at K-Sauce, our resident copywriter has an opinion or two, so when you see the word used here, well, let's explain what you'll most likely see... Although we reserve the right to change our minds at will. (Just saying.)

  • chili — We think this is the best spelling for that stew-like concoction, as in chili con carne, green chili, or other similar dishes. 
  • chile — This is the spelling we generally use when referring to hot peppers — the kind we use in our hot sauces. Of course pepper is itself a synonym, but in another evil twist of English, that can refer to chiles or that black stuff you grind on your dinner. So confusing. 
  • chili pepper — OK, here's where we go off the rail a bit; we just don't think that chile pepper looks quite right. So we violate our own rule on this one, primarily because when you add the word pepper there's no confusion that you're referring to that pod-like vegetable, and not the spicy stew-like stuff that Texans are so passionate about.

Finally, folks on the Indian subcontinent tend to use the spelling chilli to describe peppers in English — so there's another variation.

Of course, the bottom line is you can spell it however it pleases you. But when you end-up seeing us using it in various ways, well, at least you know there's a method to our madness...