Delicious Slow Cooker Cincinnati Turkey Chili

  • 4 Minutes Read
  • Sep 21, 2016

Just in time for slightly chillier evenings, check out this rich, unusual "chili" recipe that is still diabetes-friendly and weight loss-friendly.

Delicious Slow Cooker Cincinnati Turkey Chili

Cooking Light has some delicious, well-tested recipes so I when I went looking for a different kind of chili, I decided to try their Cincinnati Turkey Chili. I didn't realize that this type of chili is really a type of Mediterranean style pasta sauce, so that explains why their recipe gets served over spaghetti. For a while, my husband and I served it over whole wheat spaghetti, which tasted just fine. But the spaghetti never seemed necessary and if anything, seemed to dilute the lovely rich flavor. Since I try to limit my total calories and carb count at meals, I decided to start serving it without spaghetti. I found that I enjoyed the flavor and texture more without it. Then I started tweaking the recipe to get the sodium down while still keeping the rich flavor.

The version I came up with is similar to the original, but I use more spice, chocolate, turkey, and chocolate. And for the canned ingredients, I use all "No Added Salt" versions. I also reduced the serving to 1 cup of chili - very satisfying and lower in calories, carbs, and sodium, while still keeping protein high at 24 grams/cup.

Don't ask this recipe to compete with your favorite family chili. It's not really chili nor is it really a pasta sauce - it's a cross somewhere in between. The addition of dark chocolate, cinnamon, and allspice make this a delicious dish that has a lot of umami for the calories. Just enjoy it for what it is.

Diabetes Friendly

Because this recipe doesn't use rice, pasta, or corn, the carb count is reasonable at 35 grams total carbs per 1 cup serving. And consider this - of those 35 grams, a whopping 10 grams comes from fiber, owing to the pinto beans. Hurray!

Slow Cooker Or Stovetop

Better flavor. I used to cook this recipe on top of the stove in a big pot, but I found the flavor to be much more rich and delicious when I use the slow cooker.

Easier to tolerate legumes/pulses (dried beans & peas). For those of you who want the nutritional benefit of legumes but suffer from excessive gas, slow cooking helps reduce that problem - a lot! I slow cook all of my recipes that include beans, split peas, or lentils now - and I no longer experience uncomfortable bloating or gas. I also limit my serving to 1 cup.

Freedom from the kitchen. The other benefit to using a slow cooker is that it can cook and turn off without your assistance. I love being able to go out for a walk, do an errand, or whatever while my food slow cooks to perfect goodness.

KAI Slow Cooker Cincinnati Turkey Chili (adapted from Cooking Light)


1 can (15oz) "No Added Salt" pinto beans, drained & rinsed
2 cans (14.5 oz/can) "No Added Salt" diced tomatoes (the fire roasted type is great)
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp "No Added Salt" tomato paste
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp chipotle chili pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp Morton's lite Salt
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
11/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 lb (16 oz) lean ground turkey (e.g. 93% lean/7% fat)
1/3 cup Ghirardelli 60% cacao baking chips (or 2 oz of extra dark chocolate)
3/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese


Yield = 54 fl oz (just under 7 cups)

  1. Drain & rinse canned pinto beans.
  2. Place pinto beans, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, and all spices (chili powder through salt) into slow cooker (crockpot).
  3. Turn slow cooker on high & set for 4 hours.
  4. Add oil to a large nonstick saute pan and heat to medium - medium high heat.
  5. Add chopped onion and cook for about 5 min, stirring occasionally so the onion doesn't burn.
  6. While onion cooks, chop green pepper and garlic.
  7. Add chopped green pepper to pan and cook for about 3 min.
  8. Add chopped garlic to pan and cook for only 1-2 min, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  9. Add cooked mixture to slow cooker and stir briefly.
  10. Add ground turkey to saute pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. It's nice to get some browning for flavor, so don't feel like you have to stir constantly. Add turkey to slow cooker and stir briefly.
  11. Stir occasionally throughout the cooking period if desired but it's not necessary.
  12. Add chocolate to slow cooker and stir just before serving. I use Ghirardelli 60% baking chips for convenience since they melt easily but you can use a fancier grade or higher % cacao chocolate if you prefer. The only source of added sugar in this recipe is the dark chocolate - 3 grams per serving. That is less than 1 tsp.
  13. Serve chili in small bowls (I use a small ramekin) and top with shredded cheddar cheese.
  14. This recipe freezes well. Wait until chili has cooled, then store leftovers in airtight containers.
Nutritional Content per 1 cup serving:

364 kcal
14 g total fat: 6 g saturated fat
35 g total carbs: 10 g fiber, 10 g total sugars (3 g added sugar from the chocolate)
24 g protein
328 mg sodium
And is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron!

How to Copy This Recipe from MyNetDiary

I have already entered this recipe into MyNetDiary, so save yourself the trouble of entering it from scratch. You can copy this recipe from me, "Dietitian" in MyNetDiary. Login to MyNetDiary via web program, go to Community, and then search "Dietitian" with "People" chosen in the drop down box. You'll find "Dietitian" on the second page - click on the name link. Scroll down Dietitian Personal Page and find Custom Catalog. Find "KAI Slow Cooker Cincinnati Turkey Chili." Copy recipe by clicking "copy" link on the right side of the screen. Once you do that, you can use that recipe in your own log without having to enter it yourself. It is easy to search for that recipe if you use "from dietitian" in your name search thereafter.

Premium membership benefit: you can copy and customize recipes or foods. Bring up recipe in web program (Food tab), tap "Food Details" (top middle bar), and then choose "copy & customize" option. You can then modify any field to fully customize the recipe (ingredients, yield, name, etc.).

I hope you enjoy this recipe! It's especially nice for a colder evening's dinner, or for a hearty lunch. I like to pair it with a large garden salad for a very filling yet diabetes-friendly and weight loss-friendly main meal.

Diabetes->Carbs & Carb Counting Foods & Recipes->Chicken & Turkey
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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