Chili with spaghetti? You bet! If you’re looking for a unique new chili recipe, here it is! Cincinnati Chili is very different from other chilis you’ve had, but is totally awesome.
Typically served over spaghetti noodles, it has a lot of flavorings you might not expect, like cinnamon, cloves and even chocolate. How cool!
Give your favorite comfort food a new twist with this great regional recipe, which is equally great on stovetop, or in the crockpot…
Folks in Cincinnati are very passionate about their chili. The city is dotted with chili houses, most famously Skyline Chili, which has also spread to Indiana, Kentucky and Florida.
Cincinnati Chili is one of those uniquely Midwestern dishes, like Johnny Marzetti or Shrimp de Jonghe, that has a very devoted local following, and deserves to be spread.
What is Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati chili is a robustly seasoned meat sauce used to top spaghetti or hot dogs. It can be served with a variety of additional topping combinations called “ways”, which we’ll tell you all about later.
It was developed in Cincinnati restaurants in the 1920’s by Greek and Macedonian immigrants, and is very similar to saltsa kima, a traditional Greek pasta sauce.
Unlike conventional chili, it has a thinner, sauce like consistency with no chunks. It is almost exclusively used as a topping, and is rarely eaten on its own.
Rather than thinking of it as a chili, it has been described as more of a Macedonian Bolognese sauce. Also unlike most meat sauces, the meat is not first browned, but added into the sauce raw.
- Ground beef
- Tomato sauce and tomato paste
- Beef broth – quite a bit to give it a soupier consistency.
- Aromatics – onion and garlic.
- Herbs and spices – chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, bay leaves.
- Flavor boosters – apple cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chocolate.
- Toppings – cheddar cheese, kidney beans, diced onion, oyster crackers.
How to Make Cincinnati Chili (Stovetop Method)
In a soup pan or dutch oven, sauté the onion in a little olive oil till soft.
Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and chocolate. Cook for a few minutes.
Add tomato sauce, beef broth, vinegar, worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Then add the raw ground beef and use a whisk, potato masher or fork to break the meat into very fine pieces. Add in the bay leaves.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook for at least 1 hour.
Can I Cook Cincinnati Chili in a Slow Cooker?
Absolutely! Cincinnati chili is a great crock pot recipe. Simply add all of the ingredients to the crock, then mash the meat into small pieces.
Cover and cook 7-8 hours on LOW, or 4-5 hours on HIGH.
It can’t get much easier than that!
How to Serve Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati chili is most commonly served over a bed of spaghetti noodles. It is not mixed into the pasta, and rather than twirling it with a fork, it is eaten casserole style, with the dish being cut with the side of the fork.
The different topping combinations are referred to as “ways”. They are:
- Two-way: spaghetti topped with chili
- Three-way: spaghetti, chili, and cheese
- Four-way onion: spaghetti, chili, onions, and cheese
- Four-way bean: spaghetti, chili, beans, and cheese
- Five-way: spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, and cheese
It is also usually served with oyster crackers.
Cincinnati chili is used as a hot dog topping as well, usually along with mustard and onion, to make a “coney”, a regional variation on the Coney Island chili dog. It can be topped with shredded cheddar cheese to make a “cheese coney”.
Storage and Leftovers
You can refrigerate leftover Cincinnati chili in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat over medium heat on stovetop, adding some additional water if it has thickened up too much.
It can be frozen for 3 months in a freezer safe container. Simply thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Cook up this super tasty Cincinnati chili in your own kitchen. It’s a crowd pleasing meal that will be a hit with all ages. And when you try it, let us know what your favorite “way” is!
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Cincinnati Chili, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Try these other great chili recipes!
Ultimate Three Meat Chili
Ground Turkey Chili
Smoky Chipotle Chili
White Bean Turkey Chili
Cincinnati Chili is a flavorful meat sauce famous in the Midwest. This easy crowd pleaser is great to top spaghetti, or hot dogs. Cook it on stove top, or in your slow cooker.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp allspice powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1oz dark chocolate (optional)
- 15oz tomato sauce
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 bay leaves
- Toppings: Shredded cheddar cheese, kidney beans, diced onion, oyster crackers.
Stove Top Method
- In a soup pan or dutch oven, sauté the onion in olive oil till soft.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and chocolate. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce, beef broth, vinegar, worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Then add the raw ground beef and use a whisk, potato masher or fork to break the meat into very fine pieces. Add in the bay leaves.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook uncovered for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Serve over spaghetti with your choice of toppings.
Slow Cooker Method
- Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Use a whisk, potato masher or fork to mash the beef into very small pieces.
- Cover and cook for 7-8 hours on high, or 3-4 hours on low.
- Serve with your favorite toppings.
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