Cincinnati Chili

In anticipation of our Thanksgivikkuh trip this year, we recently made Cincinnati Chili. This excellent recipe is courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law. And, isn’t this adorable? For their wedding, they each chose a regional speciality from where they grew up, researched and prepared recipes, then created spice mixes for each and put them in tiny mason jars with the recipes rolled and tied on with a ribbon. He picked Cincinnati Chili–and this recipe is based on that Cincy staple, Skyline Chili. It’s a great personal gift and a keepsake recipe to enjoy anytime.

My husband and I had several issues with this recipe, from boiling the ground meat to grinding it up with the blender (gross, right?). Joe thought sautéing the onions with the meat before adding the broth was the way to go, and that blending the meat was beyond the pale. I thought it looked yucky even though it smelled amazing. However, we stuck to the recipe and it turned out terrific and was even better the next day. We had ours 3-way, unfortunately we didn’t have oyster crackers this time. That won’t happen again.

There are several ways to enjoy Cincinnati chili, as follows:

  • 3 way – spaghetti, chili, cheese
  • 4 way – spaghetti, chili, cheese, diced white onions or beans
  • 5 way – spaghetti, chili, cheese, diced white onions, and beans
  • cheese Coneys – hot dog in a bun, served in any of these ways
  • oyster crackers on the side or as an additional topping

Cincinnati Chili

Adapted from: Leslie and David’s Cincinnati Chili

Yield: Makes one big pot of chili, plenty for 6.


  • 2 pounds ground beef (we used 1/2 beef, 1/2 venison)
  • 20 ounces beef broth
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Ingredients for serving, any combo you like:

  • 1 pound cooked spaghetti
  • piles and piles of grated mild cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced white onions
  • dark red beans
  • hot dogs
  • hot dog buns
  • oyster crackers


In a large soup pot, boil the ground meat in beef broth, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until the liquid is reduced by half. Off the heat, use an immersion blender to puree the meat to a sauce consistency. Add all the spices, chocolate, tomato sauce, and cider vinegar. Stir to mix and melt the chocolate. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

It’s even better refrigerated overnight and gently reheated the next day.


2 thoughts on “Cincinnati Chili

  1. Pingback: Skyline Chili | Cincinnati, OH | Sara Makes Soup

  2. Pingback: A Beautiful Sunny Day! | emilykarn


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