Cincinnati Chili Recipe
Beef,  Cheese,  Game Day,  Pasta,  Sauce,  Soup,  Stews

Cincinnati Chili

Chili season has begun. What this means is that the cool air has moved into our area, football season has started, and well, my wife simply loves chili. Some folks know it as the classic chili con carne, and everyone has their recipe for chili, and that is why they have chili cooking competitions, right? I first started making chili shortly after my high school years, and began using a standard recipe that my dad would always make. Year after year, I began tweaking that recipe, making it something a bit more of what I personally liked. When I first met my wife, I realized that she loved chili as well, and continued to tweak the standard chili con carne to meet her flavor needs as well. Simply put, chili is one of those one pot stews that just scream comfort… however you make it.

I was already into my first batch of chili this season, when all of a sudden a family member posted a picture on Facebook of Cincinnati chili. My mouth was watering right away, probably because I am not only a food, but also, it just looked darn good. Now if you have never had Cincinnati chili, it probably is a must try. It is your classic chili con carne, but has the addition of some really great seasonings, and is cooked slightly different, well, a lot different from your standard chili.

Cincinnati Chili Recipe

A bit thinner in consistency, the great thing about this chili is that it not only tastes amazing, but you serve it completely different. Commonly referred to as 1-way all the way to a 5-way, the chili holds its own by itself, but when going one way, or how I like it, four-way, this chili will be sure to please.

Lets get started.

Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • Water, enough to cover the ground beef, approximately 4-6 cups
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne powder
  • 1 /2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper

To Serve:

  • 1/2 lb of cooked spaghetti
  • 1 cup of onion, finely diced
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • oyster crackers
  • Red kidney beans, cooked (optional)
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Begin by getting a large pot on the stove. Add the ground beef and water, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium, and begin stirring the beef, breaking it up as you stir. Continue this process for about 45 minutes. Skim off any of the crud that might float to the top and discard.

Next, add everything else, giving a good stir. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let it cook for approximately 3 1/2 hours, stirring from time to time.

Now if you are living on the edge and like that fatty flavor, you could go ahead and serve this right now, but instead, I recommend that you take it off of the stove, let it cool, then place in refrigerator overnight. The reason you will probably want to do this is that when you remove the chili the next day, the fat that was cooked off from boiling the ground beef will rise to the top, allowing you to remove all of that fat. So do just that, and remove that thin layer of fat from the chili.

Once you have removed the fat, take it back onto the stove, bringing it up to a boil, then get ready to serve.

Cincinnati Chili Recipe Ingredients

Remember now, I went four-way, which means, spaghetti, chili, onions, and cheese:

To serve, add a layer of the cooked spaghetti on the bottom of your bowl. Ladle a generous amount of the chili on top of the spaghetti. Top with onions, and a lot of grated cheese. Place a small handful of oyster crackers on the side, and dig in!

You will be surprised not only on the awesome texture of this chili, but more importantly, the flavor. You get the richness from the cocoa powder, and the clove and cinnamon really stand out. But it is also the texture you get from the onion and cheese that make this chili just melt in your mouth.

Give it a shot, and hope you enjoy the recipe!


  • chad

    awesome, I usually have to find “that brand” frozen, have seen very few good recipes from scratch, will be trying this tomorrow. By the way, I like mine 5 way

  • Brittany

    I grew up in Cincinnati and absolutely love any chili from that area. I will definitely try this and hopefully it will fulfill my Skyline craving 🙂

  • Karen Haney

    Made this for the family yesterday; it was awesome. I made Cincinnati chili for the first time last fall, but this recipe is much better and will be going in my binder of “favorites”. Thanks from South Dakota!

  • jess

    I am from cincinnati born and raised is this the adaptation from cooks country? It looks like it because I have made that one and it is good and pretty authentic. I had to make some minor adjustments because I am a cinci chili purist lol I am going to make it again soon. I never add beans to mine I only do 3 ways like I said purist and even sometimes I’ll eat just the chili with cheese no noodles. Also make coneys (aka chili cheese dogs yum!) those have hotdogs buns,onions chili and cheese. Oh and in cinci we also like to use some hot sauce on top of the coneys and 3 ways etc. Take care 😉

  • pmarie

    here is my cincinnati-native-mom recipe: 3 lb grd beef, 9 peeled garlic cloves, 2 lg onions chopt, 6 tbsp chili powder, 3 tbsp mixed pickling spice tied in a cheesecloth bag, 1 stick cinnamon, 2 bay leafs, 1 lg or 2 sm cans tomato paste, 2 tsp + to taste salt, black pepper to taste, sufficient water to fill lg pot in which to simmer uncovered for 8 hr, skimming fat, scraping sides & adding water to maintain loose aggregation of solids & liquids; @ 8 hr, remove spices, add 2 cans kidney beans undrained, cook 1/2 hr, boil 2 lb vermicelli, have grated parmesan available to top plates (10 or more)of pasta covered w. sauce

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