Turkey Cincinnati Chili

Turkey Cincinnati chili is a light variation on the classic Cincinnati chili that tops spaghetti with chili and cheese and onions and beans. Healthier, easier, and quicker than most. You’re welcome.

A white bowl of turkey Cincinnati chili with a fork and spoon resting beside it.

This turkey Cincinnati chili heats things up with heaping bowls of chili with additions such as warm spices like cinnamon, cocoa powder, allspice, and cloves, and a touch of sweet molasses. Served over spaghetti and topped with hearty beans, cheese, and onion, is like no chili you have had before, but definitely one you’ll make over and over again.–Ellie Krieger

How To Serve Cincinnati Chili

Are we all familiar with Cincinnati-style chili? This unique and saucy take on chili is traditionally and ubiquitously plopped atop spaghetti and, if you please, glopped with Cheddar cheese, red onions, and/or beans. Mind you, there’s proper Cincinnati chili terminology to describe exactly how you like yours…

Two Way: Chili plopped on spaghetti

Three Way: Chili plopped on spaghetti and smothered with cheese

Four Way: Chili plopped on spaghetti and smothered with cheese and diced red onions or beans

Five Way: Chili plopped on spaghetti and smothered with cheese, diced red onions, and beans

One last thing. This rendition is made with ground turkey, which is hardly traditional, although you can’t really tell the difference. Honestly. That said, we’re not going to try to stop you from making it with ground beef. As if we could stop you.

Turkey Cincinnati Chili

  • Quick Glance
  • (7)
  • 30 M
  • 2 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4
4.6/5 - 7 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until just cooked through and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add the bell peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the chili powder, cocoa, paprika, cumin, oregano (if using), cinnamon, allspice, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and cloves and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes with their juice, water, molasses, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered, until the mixture has thickened considerably but is still somewhat soupy, about 2 hours.

Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve the chili over the spaghetti, topped with the kidney beans, cheese, and diced red onion. Originally published January 4, 2012.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is a rich and meaty chili recipe, with a really deep flavor from all the spices. I gave it an extra half hour of cooking time and made it the day before, so by the time we came to eat it, it was deliciously thick. You might want to make your own decision on how much pasta, cheese and red onion you want to serve — once you have a forkful, you might realize that you want a bigger bowl!

I’ve never made a turkey chili with cocoa before, but I really enjoyed the warm notes it added to the flavor.

I did simmer the pot with the lid half on, just to keep the liquid from evaporating too quickly, which worked. With all the spices, I didn’t even miss the ground beef. thought the cumin came out a little strong, but all the other spices seemed to blend in just fine.

I enjoyed it over spaghetti, but also on its own, with a baguette, over salad, and mixed in with spaghetti squash. As with most chilis, the flavors deepened the next day, but it was delicious hot out of the pot.

Definitely a winner, and I am going to mix up a batch of the spices to keep in a jar so I don’t have to measure so much next time.

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Comments

  1. I just made a similar recipe last night for my kids – I served it over whole grain pasta and they loved it. I used unsweetened chocolate instead of cocoa and a little bit of vinegar.

    1. Sounds terrific, Jeannette. I can see how the multigrain pasta would work exceptionally well here–without even noticing it–and same goes for the chocolate in place of the cocoa, its extra richness helping to meld all the spice flavors a little more than the cocoa. I may play around with this recipe just a touch, tweaking it per your comment, and see what happens…

  2. I love the cinnamon, allspice and cloves in that chili. I’ve never seen that before, but it sure sounds good. This is one I’m going to have to try out!

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