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Cincinnati Chili

Cinnamon and cocoa give a rich brown color to hearty Cincinnati chili. This dish will warm you up on a cold day. —Edith Joyce, Parkman, Ohio
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Cook: 1-3/4 hours
  • Makes
    8 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot cooked spaghetti
  • Optional: Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped tomatoes and green onions


  • In a Dutch oven, cook the beef, pork and onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink, breaking meat into crumbles. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Add the beans, tomatoes, vinegar, cocoa, sauces, sugar and seasonings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
  • Discard bay leaves. Serve with spaghetti. If desired, garnish with cheese, sour cream, tomatoes and onions.
Nutrition Facts
1 cup: 421 calories, 16g fat (6g saturated fat), 75mg cholesterol, 443mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 11g fiber), 32g protein.

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  • grymkt97
    May 23, 2020

    Being born and raised in Cincinnati, I think I can give an honest review. Growing up you would see a chili parlor on every corner. The chili was developed by Greeks that immigrated to Cincinnati. It seemed each chili parlor had a different flavor. I never found a receipe I didn’t like. Yes, some were better than others. Over the years one chili parlor stood out and still operates today it’s been my favorite. My dad was a Cincinnati policeman and the owners new him well. Nicholas Lambrinides,Would always send dad home with Skyline Chili. Nick was a great person. His chili parlor was located in Price Hill a suburb on the West side of Cincinnati. His view of the downtown cityscape inspired the name and Skyline Chili was born. Although this isn’t the chili I was brought up on it is very good. Here are this selections of Cincinnati chili- 1 way- Chili over Spaghetti 2 way- Chili over Spaghetti with onions. 3 -way- Chili over Spaghetti with onions and fine shredded cheddar cheese. 4 way- Chili over Spaghetti with either onions or-beans and finely shredded cheddar cheese. If you’ve never tried Cincinnati Chili, you may have found your new go to meal.

  • Joey
    May 23, 2020

    This is not Cincinnati Chili for beans is not mixed in the meat butane added condiment when preparing the dish and ask for by the customer. Joey

  • Erin
    May 5, 2020

    Worst Cincinnati chili recipe I have ever read. If beans are IN the chili you can never have a 2 -way.

  • kids chauffer
    Apr 17, 2020

    Made this today! Cut recipe in half. Used black beans because that is what I had on hand. Topped with chopped red onion, cheese, cilantro and sour cream. It was DELICIOUS!! It is rare that I don’t have to tweak a recipe, but this one stood on its’ own hands down! A keeper for my family!

  • Trevor
    Apr 4, 2020

    Idk what all these other people are saying but this was arguably the worst chili’ I’ve ever tasted! The only thing I could taste was Cinnamon even though I put in less than the recommended amount. I will never make this recipe again.

  • NH-rescue
    Mar 30, 2020

    It was a bit of a stretch for me to add cocoa powder and cinnamon to a chili recipe but, knowing that kind of flavor combination works well in Mexican cooking, for example, I gave it a try. We did the whole package: chili spaghetti cheese onions beans. It went over well with my family and It was a nice change from our regular chili. I held back a bit on the 2 teaspoons of hot pepper sauce, but brought the sauce to the table for those who wanted more heat. We'll do this again!

  • shyski
    Feb 9, 2020

    I’ve made this a few times now and everyone loves it. Very flavorful. I use pintos instead of kidney beans. My son declared this his new favorite dish!

  • puzzlemad
    Sep 14, 2014

    I just made the chili & did not use spaghetti. Since it was thick I added an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce & a can of water plus another tablespoon of chili powder. It was good but a little heavy on the cocoa so I will cut that back next time I make it & perhaps add a little more sugar.

  • hopeanjl
    Sep 12, 2013

    This is not supposed to be your typical "chili." In Cincinnati, Ohio, it is known as 5-way chili. Toppings are added on top of the sauce and can be eaten in any number of ways. Beans are a topping and not cooked in the meat sauce. It is served over spaghetti. Other optional toppings are chopped onion and shredded cheddar cheese. The sauce is great, even if you think the spices sound weird. You have to try this!

  • Kressk
    Feb 4, 2013

    This traditional Cincinnati Chili recipe won the 2000 chili cook-off at work. I've been using it ever since! It works particularly well with 2 pounds of venison. The spices work to complement the flavor of the meat and disguise any gaminess. Venison is a smart and healthy choice because it is so lean.