Looking for a unique chili recipe? Try this Cincinnati style chili created with ingredients you didn't expect

  • 4 Minutes Read
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

Have you ever made chili with chocolate or cinnamon? If you are in a cooking rut and looking for a unique chili recipe that is weight loss and diabetes friendly, try this Slow Cooker Cincinnati Turkey Chili recipe.

unique chili recipe

Even though this recipe has the word chili in it, be ready for this unique Cincinnati chili recipe to turn your world upside down.

First of all, in Cincinnati, chili is not served in a soup bowl with cornbread on the side but rather in a shallow oval bowl and used as a topping for spaghetti or hotdogs. Where I grew up in South Dakota, this dish was called a chili mac ( topping pasta with chili con carne), or a chili dog (hot dog topped with meat sauce).

Second, even though Cincinnati chili does contain the traditional spice of chili powder, it is also seasoned with a Mediterranean mixture of cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and allspice.

Third, a small amount of dark chocolate, with 70-85% cocoa, is stirred in before serving. Although you don't taste the chocolate, it adds a creamy richness to the flavor.

I think you can see why this chili recipe is unique. Not only is it delicious and flavorful, but it is weight loss and diabetes friendly with 345 calories and 23 grams of protein per serving. If you are trying to get out of a cooking rut, this recipe is a good place to begin.

Health benefits of this unique chili recipe

Excellent source of protein

Excellent source of fiber

Excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene

Excellent source of other antioxidants

How would you order Cincinnati chili in Ohio?

If you were at a restaurant in Ohio, you would order Cincinnati chili according to the "way" system. The "way" refers to the way or order that specific ingredients are added to the chili.

Two-way:        Spaghetti topped with chili
Three-way:     Spaghetti topped with chili, and then topped with cheese
Four-way:       Spaghetti topped with chili, onions or beans, and then topped with cheese
Five-way:        Spaghetti topped with chili, beans, and onions, and then topped with cheese

If you order Cincinnati chili "inverted", then the dish would be flipped over with the cheese at the bottom so it melts faster with the other ingredients piled on top.

Chili cook-off

If you are trying to win the next Chili Cook-off, try this recipe. The Smithsonian in 2013 call Cincinnati Chili one of the "20 Most Iconic Foods in America," and in 2000 Cincinnati Chili received the famous chef, James Beard, Foundation America's Classics Award.

This recipe is versatile. If you want to bring it to an event, such as a chili cook-off, tailgate party, potluck or just want a warm meal in the evening after work or basketball practice, cook it in your slow cooker. If you prefer, you can also make it in a big pot on the stove and enjoy the aroma permeating your house. The longer it cooks, the better it gets. I like to double this recipe, because it's even better the next day and great for freezing in containers for a quick lunch.

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Turkey Chili

Yield: 7 servings
Nutrition Facts per Serving of Chili (283 grams)
Calories: 345, 15g fat, 31g carbohydrate, 23g protein, 7.9g dietary fiber



  1. Drain & rinse canned pinto beans.
  2. Place pinto beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth and all spices (chili powder through salt) into a slow cooker.
  3. Turn the slow cooker on high and set for 4 hours.
  4. Add olive oil to a large nonstick saute pan and heat to medium heat.
  5. Add chopped onions and saute for about 4 min.
  6. While onion cooks, chop green pepper and mince garlic.
  7. Add chopped green pepper to the pan and saute for about 3 min.
  8. Add minced garlic to the pan and saute for another 30 seconds.
  9. Add cooked mixture to the slow cooker and stir to mix.
  10. Add ground turkey to saute pan, increase heat to medium-high, then brown for about 6 minutes. Add turkey to the slow cooker and stir to mix.
  11. Stir chili occasionally if you wish, but it isn't necessary. Just remember to keep the cover on.
  12. When cooking is finished, add dark chocolate to the slow cooker and stir to mix.
  13. Serve 1 cup of chili in a bowl and top with 1 1/2 Tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese.


This is one of 200+ dietitian-approved recipes that is now available with the Premium membership. With Premium, if you want to add this recipe to your food diary, just type in "Slow Cooker Cincinnati Turkey Chili". It is already entered and analyzed for you.

Please share with us your favorite chili recipe and tell us what makes it unique.

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Updated: February 29, 2020

Foods & Recipes->Chicken & Turkey Foods & Recipes->Soup
Feb 29, 2020

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