Cincinnati Chili 5 way

My recipe for Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati postcard cinci

Chili is a dish that has literally 100’s of different recipes. They vary by region, ethnicity, chili color, ingredients and intangibles such as what to serve with your favorite type of chili.  There are multiple Chili cook offs in every city every year. Nothing says comfort food in the US more than Chili.

The following link provides a very detailed explanation about Chili and its history.  Check it out and come back here for this recipe for Cincinnati Chili –

One of the most unique types of Chili is Cincinnati-style Chili. For those who grew up in Cincinnati or lived there for any significant length of time (15 years in my case), you can’t help but take sides in the Skyline ( vs Gold Star ( debate. There are as many Skyline/Gold Star locations in Cincinnati as there are McDonald’s. They all have a drive thru, just like McDonald’s. And with one exception downtown by the stadiums, they don’t serve alcohol.

Cincinnati-style Chili is a little sweeter than most other chili’s, being cooked in a combination of cinnamon and chocolate, among other spices. And when you order it, you specify which “way” you want your chili served.


  • 2-way = spaghetti and chili
  • 3-way = spaghetti, chili, cheese
  • 4-way = spaghetti, chili, cheese, and onions OR beans
  • 5-way = spaghetti, chili, cheese, onion AND beans

Chili 5 way

Here is my easy recipe for Cincinnati-style Chili. I use ground turkey instead of ground beef (a lot less fat & grease), onions cooked in the chili instead of being a topping (a little sweeter flavor), packaged spices instead of individually measured spices and beans in the sauce instead of on top. (I was always a 5-way guy)

Ingredients (Per pound of ground turkey)

Accompaniments (all optional)

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Oyster Crackers
  • 1 lb cooked spaghetti
  • Your favorite hot sauce


  1. In a large pan or pot, heat the oil and sauté the chopped onions.
  2. While the onions are cooking (after 3-4 minutes), add the ground turkey in the same pot as the onions. Cook meat until all pink has disappeared. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat into small pieces as it cooks.
  3. Add the tomato soup and kidney beans and stir to combine.
  4. Add the spice package and stir.
  5. Simmer 30 minutes. If chili is too thick, just add some hot water. If it’s too thin, let it simmer a little longer to cook down and thicken.
  6. Serve with your favorite accompaniments.


Approximate Cincinnati Chili Spice Ingredients (If you would rather use individual spices, here are the approximate measurements to use.)

  • 1/2 oz baking chocolate (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

(Because this is “Cooking Secrets for Men” we use the pre-packaged Cincinnati spice mix. But feel free to experiment with different spices.)

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1 thought on “My recipe for Cincinnati Chili”

  1. I love this, Charlie! Thanks for posting. My son has been begging us to make Cincinnati Chili (he had a version at school), and now I have a recipe I trust! I love the way you listed all the different “ways.” Grazie!

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