Traditional recipes

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili

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This lamb-version of the Cincinnati chili recipe is thinner than your average chili, packed with aromatic spices like allspice and cinnamon, and layered on top of spaghetti.


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 2/3 cups (about) low-salt beef broth, divided
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • Coarsely grated goat's-milk Gouda cheese or goat's-milk cheddar cheese

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add lamb; cook until browned, breaking into pieces, about 15 minutes. Add cocoa and next 4 ingredients; stir 3 minutes. Stir in 4 cups broth and next 6 ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until thickened, stirring often, about 1 hour. Spoon fat from top of chili. Season with salt and pepper. Thin with broth by 1/3 cupfuls. Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley.

  • Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Toss with beans and 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Divide spaghetti among bowls. Top with chili. Garnish with cheese, onions, and parsley.

Recipe by Jeanne Thiel Kelley,

Nutritional Content

One serving contains: Calories (kcal) 799.3 %Calories from Fat 40.2 Fat (g) 35.7 Saturated Fat (g) 13.2 Cholesterol (mg) 121.7 Carbohydrates (g) 70.4 Dietary Fiber (g) 9.4 Total Sugars (g) 8.0 Net Carbs (g) 61.0 Protein (g) 48.3 Sodium (mg) 308.4Reviews Section

Cincinnati Chili (Cook's Illustrated)

1. FOR THE CHILI: Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the ground chuck, stirring vigorously to separate the meat into individual strands. As soon as the foam from the meat rises to the top (this takes about 30 seconds) and before the water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer and set it aside.

2. Rinse and dry the empty saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar, and tomato sauce, scraping the pan bottom to remove any browned bits.

3. Add the blanched ground beef and increase the heat to high. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. (The chili can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat before serving.)

4. TO SERVE: Divide the buttered spaghetti among individual bowls. Spoon the chili over the spaghetti and top with the cheese, beans, and onion. Serve immediately.

Choose a relatively plain tomato sauce-nothing too spicy or herbaceous. To warm the kidney beans, simmer them in water to cover for several minutes and then drain.

On 2/21/07 David wrote:
Make this 1 day before serving, and don't reduce it all the way. Refrigerate it overnight, and reduce it the rest of the way the day after. I made it with 2 pounds of beef, and increased the rest of the ingredients by one-thrid. Ingredients that called for (2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) I rounded up to 3 Tablespoons. I used one 15-ounce can plus 1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. This recipe is OUTSTANDING, especially when served with the mandatory beans, onions and cheese. Make extra and freeze it.

Easy 5 Way Cincinnati Chili Recipe (Just Like Skyline)

When you think about chili, Ohio might not be the first state you think of. Second to Texas though, Ohio is the biggest Chili fan state in the U.S. Straight from The Buckeye State, I’m bringing you an easy 5 Way Cincinnati Chili recipe that your family will love. This classic recipe has been named one of the most iconic foods of the United States and it’s a family-favorite in our own home. It’s *almost* a copycat Skyline Chili recipe, but I’ve got my own twist.

How did Cincinnati Chili come about? If you’re from Ohio, chances are that you’ve had it at least once. Skyline restaurant serves the famous dish and they’re a local restaurant group.

Basically, it is a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce used as a topping for spaghetti (or hot dogs) and both dishes were developed by Macedonian immigrant restaurateurs in the 1920s. Homemade recipes most always include unsweetened dark chocolate as well – just like this one!

What Is 5 Way Cincinnati Chili?

The toppings are what decides if you’re eating it 3, 4 or 5 way! Toppings include cheese, onions, and beans specific combinations of toppings are known as “ways.” Ways are often served with oyster crackers and a mild hot sauce. You’ll never be served Cincinnati Chili in a bowl because it’s always over a bed a spaghetti.

In my recipe, I’ll show you how to make it 3, 4 or 5 way. Each family member can enjoy their chili however they want to. I guarantee everyone will love this winter comfort dinner recipe.

Ingredients in Cincinnati Chili

One of the things that set this Cincinnati Chili Recipe apart from other chilis is the addition of Mediterranean spices. It has chili powder and oregano, which are to be expected, but then you add cinnamon, allspice, and cocoa powder.

This recipe is made with ground beef that you blanch first, which removes most of the fat without taking away all of the flavor. And then you have other typical ingredients, like onions, garlic, tomato sauce, broth, vinegar and brown sugar.

The way I have written up this Cincinnati Chili Recipe is what they would call Five-Way, aka with all of the good stuff. Two way would be just the chili and spaghetti, three way adds cheddar cheese to the top. Four way is the spaghetti, chili, cheese, and your choice of beans or onions, and Five Way is with both the beans and the onions.

Cincinnati Chili is also usually served with oyster crackers and hot sauce.

Easy Cincinnati Chili

Published on August 28, 2020 - Updated on May 16, 2021 by Chef Rodney - Leave a Comment - This post may contain affiliate links.

This Classic Cincinnati Chili goes great on Hot Dogs or Pasta. Easy to make and ready in a little under 3 hours.

It's no secret I love making Chili. Heck my Signature Chili Recipe is what really got me hooked on cooking. This Cincinnati Chili recipe is not only easy to make, but it also tastes delicious!

This chili is a little different than my other Chili Recipes. This particular chili was originally made to go on Hot Dogs or Spaghetti. The consistency of this chili is much thinner than my other chili recipes.

Don't let that fool you though, this Cincinnati Chili is packed full of flavor. The cinnamon really stands out which I love. One of the things I like about this chili is that it's not spicy at all. Which means you can serve it to those that don't like spicy food.

Unlike many of my other Chili recipes, this one does not have any beans in it. Only ground beef, onion, tomato sauce and some seasonings. I recommend using the leanest ground beef you can find otherwise you might have a little too much grease in the chili juice.

For more great recipes like this one, I suggest you check these recipes out:

How to make authentic Cincinnati Style Chili with homemade chili mix.

I don’t think that I ever mentioned that I lived in Ohio for a couple of months. Yup, it was right before I turned 17. While living in Ohio, I got hooked on the Cincinnati style chili. I must admit, when I first heard about it, I was a little hesitant. However after having it.. It was love at first bite! It was so different from the chili that I was use to. The spices, the texture, the aroma. It was amazing!

Sadly when we moved back to Seattle ,my Cincinnati style chili days were over. There were no restaurants that sold it. Heck, the grocery stores didn’t even carry any Cincinnati chili mix. Luckily, while living in Ohio, I watched a couple of people make it. Everyone that I watched used most of the same ingredient, but all of them had a secret additional ingredient(s). Making the Cincinnati chili looked easy enough, so I gave it a try. After several attempts, I mastered it, and even added my very own secret ingredients!

Let me tell you how I make my very own Cincinnati Style Chili!

First things first. If you never had Cincinnati style chili, be alarmed that some of the ingredients may sound a little strange, but the outcome is AMAZING.

For my chili recipe, I use regular ground beef. You can use ground turkey if you choose, but it’s not the same in my opinion! I use a lot of onion in this recipe. It adds a ton of flavor, and most Cincinnati style chili recipes call for a nice amount of onion.

As mentioned before, I live in area that doesn’t sell Cincinnati chili mix. Therefore I make my own. Making your own chili mix isn’t hard at all. For my Cincinnati Chili I use a combination of these ingredients

  • chili powder
  • ground cinnamon
  • cumin
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground allspice
  • and oregano

I also add salt and pepper for taste. Another ingredient that is commonly used in Cincinnati style chili is unsweetened chocolate. Yes, you read that right! No, the chili won’t taste like someone dropped a candy bar in it. The unsweetened chocolate adds a nice unique flavor, dark brown color, and a nice texture.

My recipe for Cincinnati style chili is super easy, and nothing short of amazing. This chili is freezable, so feel free to make a big ol’ pot of it, and reheat it whenever you’re craving it.

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If you liked our recipe for Cincinnati Chili, you should try our recipe for Curry Hummus Dip

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  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Pound ground beef
  • 1 1/2 Cup chopped onions, divided
  • 2 Cups water
  • 15 Ounces tomato sauce
  • 8 Ounces spaghetti, cooked
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese

For the spice blend, mix chili powder, sugar, cinnamon, garlic powder, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.

Cook ground beef and 1 cup of the onions in large saucepan on medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink drain fat. Add spice blend, water, and tomato sauce bring to boil. Reduce heat to low simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve chili over spaghetti. Top with kidney beans, cheese, and remaining 1/2 cup onions, as desired.


Start off by adding the beef to a medium-size flameproof casserole.

Now chop the onion and garlic in a mini-chopper until quite small and add these to the meat. Then crush the coriander and cumin seeds with a pestle and mortar (or the back of a spoon) and add these along with the cinnamon, paprika and seasoning. Finally, pour in the contents of the jar of sauce, then quarter-fill the jar with warm water, put the lid on, give a good shake and add that too. Now bring it all up to simmering point, stirring. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, turn the heat down to its lowest and barely simmer for 4 hours.

To serve, heat the pinto beans in their own juice, drain and rinse them with boiling water and transfer to a warmed bowl. Place the other ingredients in cold dishes, serve the chilli in warm bowls and let everyone help themselves to whatever combination they want. (Matt says you break up the crackers and scatter them in as well.) He likes it hotter, so if you do too, add some chopped piri piri chillies.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion (from 1 onion), plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (from 3 cloves)
  • 1 pound 85 percent-lean ground beef, preferably grass-fed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 can (8 ounces) low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 6 all-beef franks
  • 6 long potato rolls, such as Martin's, split
  • Yellow mustard, for serving
  • 4 ounces finely shredded sharp cheddar (2 cups), for serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden in places, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic cook 30 seconds more. Add ground beef and season with salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, breaking into bite-size pieces and stirring occasionally, until meat is browned in places and just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cocoa, cinnamon, and allspice cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce, 1 cup water, vinegar, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and darkened slightly, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add franks, reduce heat to low, and simmer until plump and hot, about 5 minutes. Drain franks and place in rolls. Top each with chili, sprinkle with onion, drizzle with mustard, and top with cheese. Serve immediately.


This may be chili but it is sure not anything like Cincinnati (Skyline) Chili.

NO BEANS. Add them as a new "way" ie. 3 way 4 way etc. You gouda be kidding me w/cheese? Lamb is a sham! No oyster crackers? I personally do not care that much for the commercial versions in our local restaurants (much less the overcooked thick spaghetti) but why not be authentic?

Very tasty. If you are craving Cincinnati chili and do not have a chili parlor nearby, this recipe will do the trick. I wanted it to be authentic so I made a few variations. I of course did not use ground lamb, instead I used good quality ground chuck, although I love lamb. I added the ground chuck to the cold beef stock and then added all of the herbs and spices at once along with the tomato paste.

Delicious! Kind of reminds me of Bishops's chili in Chicago. I used pinto beans and mixed them into the meat mixture.

I've lived in Cincinnati my whole life, and I just have to say. No one EVER puts gouda on their Cinci chili! Stick with the cheddar, and lots of it, or even a jack cheddar if your taste buds are on the spicier side.

FYI, I made it again with lamb and more "per recipe" and it's a solid 4 forks.

This chili (be it not real ɼincinnati' material) is absolutely delicious! Perfect indulgence for a chilly autumn evening. Loved the depth of flavor and how easy it is to make with store cupboard ingredients, I couldn't stop eating it! Clearly not the healthiest, of course, so I'll have to do my best not to add this to the regular rotation.

This recipe may be tasty but it has nothing to do with Cincinnati chili. I'm going to find my authentic recipe and post it. The major difference is that Cincinnati style chili is not browned. It is crumbled into water before any heat is applied.

I really liked this recipe and am a big fan of all things lamb, so I enjoyed a different way of preparing lamb. I normally do not like beans in my chili, but using the kidney beans from the can instead of cooking them in the chili makes a huge difference and I really liked the beans in this dish. I made the recipe exactly as written only cutting the recipe to 2/3 (using 2 lbs of ground lamb and 2/3 of each ingredient). This made 8 cups of chili. Will definitely make again.

This is really a 31/2 fork recipe. I used beef for lamb, chicken broth plus 1 beef boullion for the beef broth. Up the garlic and cayenne. Added a tsp of madras curry and a squirt of ketchup. I added the beans to the chili 30 minutes after started to simmer. Served with chopped red and green onion, cheddar, crema, and some oyster crackers. Delicious, cheap, and satisfying.

Thia was awful. I am so glad that I dec ided to halve the recipe. Yuck! Not up to Bon Appetit standards!

Made this recipe because of all the good reviews and was not disappointed. It was an interesting twist to mix the beans with the pasta rather than mix them in the chili, and it worked well. I substituted organic ground beef for lamb, but otherwise made it as written and I couldn't stop eating it. Based on that fact alone, I have to give it three forks and if there was a three and half forks rating, it would get that. It is a nice alternative chili to have around.

Really good especially if you're a lamb fan. Made it exactly as printed except I used lamb broth I had made - excellent. One slight change and only because I couldn't get the cheese it called for so I used feta and I wouldn't hesitate to use that again. And I'm pleased to hear it get's better with age. Will definitely make again.

My family loves this chili including my three year old. I doubled the cocoa to warm up the flavor a bit for our taste. And next time, we're going with beef, because the lamb tasted a tad too overpowering for us. I also lessened the spice a bit since we have young kids who are sensitive to that. But other than that, it was a total hit! I love the taste and that it goes with pasta. It's such a comforting food and satisfying, richly flavorful and a delightful twist! And in solidarity with the angry Cincinnati people, I will NOT call it Cincinnati Chili. We'll go with some of the great names suggested by other reviewers. :)

Without getting into the authenticity debate, this is a good "alternative" chili. I followed the recipe exactly as printed. I made the mistake of eating it the night I made it and I was thinking I would not ever make it again. It was just alright and I have better chili recipes. However, I just ate the leftovers two days later and it is WORLDS better. Now I will file this one away for another winter day. By the way, I served it over macaroni instead of spaghetti to make it an easier meal to eat in front of the TV (hello Super Bowl Sunday!).

I'm from Cincinnati and I don't care that this isn't ɺuthentic.' It's awesome. It's better than Skyline and Gold Star. Granted, it costs 10 times more money to make this, but it's worth it. The new name should be Fancy Cincinnati-Style Chili.

I hope Bon Appetit has learned a valuable lesson here. you don't mess with folks' regional recipes. even if you think you have a better version. You better call them something different if its not gen-u-ine . because someone is going to be upset. Honestly, the smart people of Cincinnati should grab this one up and claim it as well before someone else does because it is absolutely terrific. Cincinnati Lamb Noodle Bowl. whatever. They are just as likely to be mad if someone else claims it and they let a winner get away. My recommendation is that you try Cincinnati Lamb Noodle Bowl because it is a terrific kissing cousin of Cincinnati Chili.

I can't rate the recipe based on experience I haven't made it. But whether or not it is tasty, it is NOT authentic Cincinnati chili! As other reviewers have pointed out, Cincinnati chili is made with beef (not lamb) that is not browned first, and topped with shredded cheddar (not goat's milk cheese), chopped raw onion, kidney beans and oyster crackers (not parsley). Since the other regions seemed to be faithfully represented, to be fair, the author should have given the authentic recipe in the article and listed her own preferences as alternate suggestions. Call this concotion whatever you like just don't call it Cincinnati chili!

Fabulous "Non-Cincinati" Chili. Obviously this recipe has upset the Cincinnati Chili purists. but it is OUTSTANDING. Using the lamb is genius. the flavor is complex and rich, and has obvious Greek roots with the spices. The final dish is a little unconventional (being neither true Cincinnati Chili nor a typical Greek item). but do not make the mistake of overlooking it. It is just terrific. I was worried about it coming across too sweet/sour with the addition of the brown sugar and the vinegar, but the end result is a perfect balance. Loved loved loved it.

All five of us gobbed this up. It is not your typical Tex/Mex chili the spices are sweet and aromatic with a nice cayenne kick. One kid has a food allergy so we served the beans on the side. Don't forget them as they add a nice texture in contrast to the spaghetti. I used cheddar - it almost doesn't matter as long as you use the sharpest cheese you can find and pile it on! I also chose to drain most of the fat after the lamb cooked as it was easier than skimming the fat off the top. The leftovers are sure to be even better today!

Watch the video: Cincinnati-Style Chili - Food Wishes (June 2022).


  1. Arav

    and in what city, what country ?? very creative !!!!!)))))

  2. Yabiss

    You must tell him that you are not right.

  3. Aodhfin

    Bravo, a brilliant idea

  4. Wanrrick

    I confirm. I join told all above. Let's discuss this question.

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