This recipe, submitted by Melanie Madore of Ashland, Missouri, was a finalist in our recipe contest. Unlike many pumpkin chilis, what sets this one apart is using cubed pumpkin (or butternut squash) rather than canned.
Pumpkin Chili 
This chili is great for tucking into your slow cooker in the morning, so you can come home to a warm winter dinner. Omit the meat if you'd prefer a hearty meatless main dish. If you like, add chopped avocado or shredded cheese as toppers before serving.
Fresh apple, dried fruit and cashews add color, sweetness and crunch to a ready-in-45 vegetarian chili. For a twist on the traditional toppers (and to hint what’s inside), garnish with apple slivers.
Apple Harvest Chili 
Combine chicken, chopped vegetables and canned beans for this warm-and-comforting chili. This fall recipe gives variations for Slow Cooker Chicken Chili as well as a spicier Chipotle Chicken Chili.
Locals spar over whether Skyline or Gold Star makes the better version (and whether the secret ingredients should be cinnamon, cocoa or allspice). Whichever, chili in the Queen City translates as a mild, meaty sauce served over spaghetti noodles and topped with shredded cheese.
Sweet potatoes and apples hold their own with spicy chipotle chilies in this perfect sweet-heat balance. Does it take a lot of peeling and chopping? Yes. Is it worth it? Oh, yeah.
Chili, a one-pot meal, is a dinner table staple at many Midwest firehouses. Three-Alarm Lansing Fire Chili comes from Lansing, Michigan's Fire Station 8. The recipe uses beef roast and pork sausage, plus a surprise ingredient: a chocolate bar. (If you prefer less spicy chili, omit the jalapeno pepper.)
This recipe has been passed down from firefighter to firefighter over the years at Fire Station 1 on Mulberry Street in Des Moines. The recipe we received, based on 8 pounds of ground beef, serves 15 to 20 people -- or 10 firefighters. We've trimmed it down to 2 pounds of beef, which should make 8 to 10 servings at your house. A firefighter describes this chili as "spicy without being too hot to hurt you."
Famous Chili recipe 
Firefighters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, dig into this chili with care. The initials stand for "immediately dangerous to life and health." The chili includes three kinds of fresh chilies and four kinds of powdered chilies. For additional flavor, sear the sirloin steak on the grill first. Alter peppers and seasoning amounts for desired heat.
Another five-alarm recipe comes from firefighter Chris Muenks of the Jefferson County, Missouri, fire department.
Chris Muenks' Chili 
Our Test Kitchen created this quick and easy chicken chili, which takes just 15 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook. Serve with assorted toppers such as sour cream, low-fat yogurt, chopped red onions, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chopped avocado.
Chicken Salsa Chili 
This recipe, from Bryon Bensen at the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, fire department, drew a two-alarm rating. It's served over macaroni and can be topped with sour cream, cheese and green onions -- and red pepper sauce, if you want to up the alarm rating even more.
Other firehouse recipes include Donovan's Code 3 Chili, a four-alarm specialty from Cincinnati; Thumbs-Up Chili, a three-alarm dinner from Rockford, Illinois; and United Way Cook-Off Chili, a four-alarm favorite from Minnesota's Duluth Fire Department.
Bryon Bensen's Chili 
White chili typically combines chicken broth, navy beans or Great Northern beans, chicken and flavorings for a stew that tends to be milder than the beefy red chili recipes. You can still adjust the heat up or down, though, by using more or less chilies and red pepper.
Our White Surprise Chili (left) has been a favorite with readers for years. White Chili in a Bread Bowl is a thick, creamy soup served at the Holiday Inn in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Southwestern White Chili recipe uses canned instead of dried beans for a quicker-fixing chili; this recipe comes from Lewis and Clark's restaurant in St. Charles, Missouri.
Ground Beef and Salsa Chili, from The Dakota Diner in Webster, South Dakota, can be on the table in 30 minutes or less. Match the pot of chili to your taste by the spiciness of the salsa you choose.
This chili comes from the Firehouse Brewing Company in Rapid City, South Dakota. The chef adds chocolate to take the edge off the tangy tomato flavor. The chili won first place at the Black Hills Stock Show Chili Cook-Off.
A different version of pork-based stew is Fire and Ice Chili, which combines pineapple chunks with more traditional chili ingredients.
Another quick-fix recipe, this chili uses a variety of canned or ready-to-eat ingredients, including salsa, black beans, vegetable juice and turkey kielbasa. Try serving it with Cumin-Cheddar Corn Bread and with Bananas a la Mexican for a complete, fast-and-easy meal.
When we asked for readers' best chili recipes, Midwest cooks submitted dozens. In our 9 favorites, innovative ingredients--whiskey, red wine, cocoa powder and molasses--work magic on the basics of meat, beans and, of course, chilies. Three-Bean Beauty chili, pictured, was one of the winners. Click below for the Three-Bean Beauty Chili recipe or the complete list of winners.
Three-Bean Beauty Chili