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Cincinnati Chili

User Rating 4.5 Star Rating (5 Reviews)


Updated August 16, 2014

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati chili with cheese and onion. Since the original dish is often served over spaghetti, we ladle it over spaghetti squash.

Diane Macdonald/Stockbyte/Getty Images
If you're never had Cincinnati chili, you must put aside your preconceptions about what chili is, because although Cincinnati chili shares many of the basic ingredients with Texas chili, it is seasoned and cooked quite differently, as it originated from a Greek stew. Cinnamon and chocolate in a chili? Yep, you got it right. But no one will guess! We love it at our house.


  • 2 lbs ground meat (I use half turkey and half beef)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 T chili powder (depending upon the heat of the powder and your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T Worcestershire Sauce.
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon beef Better Than Bouillon or 3 bouillon cubes
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 T red wine vinegar (optional and traditional)
  • 1/4 C red wine (very optional and very non-traditional)


Originally, the meat for the chili was boiled instead of browned. This gives a different consistency to it - the pieces of meat are very small and separated - no clumps. Most recipes I've seen do brown the meat with the onions, though. This is the way I do it, which is kind of a cross between the two:

Put the meat and onions in a stock pot or large deep frying pan, and cook for 5 minutes, then add about 2 cups of water and mix and chop with a spatula until the hamburger is pretty well broken up. Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Correcting the seasoning at the end is important. Although Cincinnati chili isn't supposed to be super-spicy, you can add heat if you like, or a little vinegar to perk up the flavor, or salt, or a bit of sweetener if it's harsh.

In Cincinnati, you can have it as above with or without cheese and/or onions. Or you can have:

Two-way chili - on spaghetti (we use spaghetti squash)
Three-way chili - on spaghetti with cheddar cheese
Four-way chili - on spaghetti with cheese and onions
Five-way chili - all of the above, plus kidney beans

Nutritional Information Each of 8 servings has 6 grams effective carbohydrate plus 2.5 grams fiber, 23 grams protein, 13 grams fat, and 240 calories
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
Rave Reviews, Guest low carb dieter

Used straight 80-20 beef and served it over spaghetti squash - it was very good. My husband used to make a cheese & chili omelet the next morning. I took it to work for lunch and several co-workers asked for the recipe. This recipe will become a regular.

9 out of 10 people found this helpful.

See all 5 reviews

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