Southern Cincinnati Chili has a unique flavor and it’s served over spaghetti. Add toppings your “way” and enjoy chili the way the Buckeyes do or add pimento cheese for a Southern flare.
Chili found in the Cincinnati area is different than any other version around. We would get this type of chili when we lived in Kentucky as we weren’t far from Cincinnati. The sauce is made with ground beef and tomato sauce but with seasonings you will only see in Cincinnati Chili. Cocoa powder, cloves and cinnamon create a flavor filled sauce that is then poured over spaghetti. To that you are asked how you want it served, your choices are as follows:
Two way: Chili and spaghetti
Three way: Chili, spaghetti and cheese
Four way: Chili, spaghetti, cheese and onions
Five way: Chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions and beans
My way: Chili, spaghetti, pimento cheese, onions, jalapeño slices, and sour cream
However, here in the South, I like to use Pimento cheese instead of grated cheddar and to spice it up a bit, add some jalapeño slices. Now that it’s spicy, you need a little sour cream to cool it off. I don’t like beans on my chili, but if you do, just add cooked kidney beans. And last but not least, don’t forget the oyster crackers!
For the pimento cheese, I used my Smokey Pimento Cheese recipe but just left out the chipotle peppers.
How do you make Southern Cincinnati Chili
The chili itself is not different from other chili recipes, it’s just the seasoning and presentation that are different. You will need lots of seasonings, so check your pantry before starting out.
Step 1: Cook the onion and garlic and then add the hamburger or turkey and cook until browned. Add some bell peppers and cook until slightly soft.
Step 2: Add all the seasonings except the bay leaf and let them simmer for a minute. Next add the tomatoes and sauce, molasses and the bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for two hours. While traditional Cincinnati chili has allspice, it’s not my favorite, so I leave it out. If you like the flavor of allspice add a ½ teaspoon to the sauce.
Step 3: Cook spaghetti, drain and put in individual bowls and top with a scoop of chili and the toppings that you prefer.
This type of chili is a nice change from the more traditional chili. The chili itself is pretty thick which makes it great for serving over spaghetti. It’s also nice for large gatherings as everyone can make the version they prefer. You don’t even need cornbread since you’re serving it over spaghetti.
Can you make Cincinnati Chili with TURKEY
I typically substitute ground turkey or ground chicken for the hamburger in this recipe. It’s hard to tell the difference with all the other flavorings going on so you can make this healthier by this simple substitution.
MORE chili recipes
- A healthy chicken chili
- Short rib chili is a hearty chili that needs to cook for several hours
- Make this chili in the Instant Pot
- Try chili with sweet potatoes with apple cider
- Add a little Kahlua and chocolate to your chili
- Try adding acorn squash and pumpkin seeds
- Pull out the slow cooker and add some chicken and Ancho peppers
- While you have the slow cooker out, try chicken salsa chili
It’s a long winter so you have lots of time to experiment with some of these chili recipes. If you’ve had enough chili already, then soup is the next best thing. I especially like Zesty Chicken Soup, and Sausage and Mushroom Soup.
If you make Southern Cincinnati Chili be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! I would love to see your creation.
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Southern Cincinnati Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
- 2 green peppers diced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice optional
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 bay leaf
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the meat and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until just cooked through and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. hours. Remove the bay leaf.
- Add the seasonings, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and tomatoes with their juices, ½ cup water, molasses and the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened considerably but is still soupy, about 2 hours. Remove the bay leaf.
- Serve over spaghetti and top with kidney beans, red onion grated cheese or pimento cheese.
- Top with sour cream and jalapeño slices.