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Homemade Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Homemade Cincinnati Chili Recipe

The chocolate in this recipe threw me off at first, but now it's the only way I make chili. You'll find layers of delicious flavor in this heartwarming dish. It's well-worth the time it takes! —Joyce Alm, Thorp, Washington
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 25 min. Cook: 5 hours YIELD:10 servings


  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Hot cooked spaghetti
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and sliced green onions, optional


  • 1. In a Dutch oven, cook beef and onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain.
  • 2. In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the beans, tomato sauce, broth, chili powder, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chocolate, cinnamon, cumin, salt, oregano, pepper and cloves. Stir in beef mixture. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until heated through.
  • 3. Serve with spaghetti. Garnish with cheese and green onions if desired. Yield: 10 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 358 calories, 14g fat (6g saturated fat), 67mg cholesterol, 1141mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 7g fiber), 33g protein.

Reviews for Homemade Cincinnati Chili

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Psalm127-3 User ID: 7749892 269057
Reviewed Jul. 6, 2017

"wanna make this but this California girl wants real 'Skyline' chili flavor. anyone know it this comes close? I'll wait for replies. thank you"

CJ959595 User ID: 7505871 143261
Reviewed Dec. 16, 2013

"I was born in Cincinnati and I am still here. Yes we love our chili. Beyond that I'm not crazy about the beans on my chili separate, but to each his own. I have been making this chili forever and I put the beans in the chili. I say eat your chili how you want, what is it going to matter....LOL. Fresh cut onions on the chili is the best, but I also cook the chili with very finely minced onions also. If you ever come to Cincinnati the best is Skyline, Gold Star is ok if you like a strong taste of cloves which I do not. Everyone enjoy your chili whatever way you like it."

brandangelak User ID: 3566870 92393
Reviewed Sep. 21, 2013

"First, I have to admit, I've never been to Cincinnati! But I decided to try this recipe after seeing a special on Cincinnati chili - I was definitely intrigued. That said, I didn't love it. It was OK, but the cinnamon flavor just seemed weird to me. I guess I'll just have to travel to Ohio and try the real thing before I make up mind completely!"

MrsKase User ID: 3265136 71410
Reviewed Jan. 27, 2013

"oh forgot wanted to say-since we eat grass-fed organic ground beef it is expensive so I use only 1 pound of ground beef and one pound dry soaked beans or 4 cans of organic beans. I have used a mix of black beans and kidney before too-this works good too."

MrsKase User ID: 3265136 111460
Reviewed Jan. 27, 2013

"I just saw I already reviewed this in 2011-see still lovin' it lol!!!"

MrsKase User ID: 3265136 141758
Reviewed Jan. 27, 2013

"I grew up eating chili over spaghetti that my Mom called Cincinnati chili but she used a box mix of seasonings called Cincinnati chili and yes browned the beef in a fry pan. I eat a diet of minumum processed foods since 2010 and this recipe is so good-we have made several times in past couple years bc it tastes like Mom's without using a proceesed food packet. My whole family loves this chili and I have made it for others from Church and they all loved it and we had a Pastor tell us that his kids ate it even and they won't normally eat chili. I don't see why anyone would get bent out shape about authenticity but I am not from nor ever been to Cincinnati and if this how the locals act-never really want to go there lol!"

Taygin User ID: 6990549 83698
Reviewed Nov. 23, 2012

"As someone who grew up in Cincinnati (and still lives nearby) I cannot believe the rudeness of supposed other Cincinnatians about how the chili is made. I can confirm as a fact that everyone has their own recipe for this chili around here. Some boil it, some brown it. Some use chocolate, some use cocoa. It's good either way and still retains the awesome flavor! To say you're "ashamed" over how some chili is made is unbelievable! And those of you who think the spaghetti or chili dogs are weird... just try them. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!"

muffbear74 User ID: 209131 92574
Reviewed Nov. 8, 2012

"This was wonderful! Then again, how can you go wrong with both chocolate AND cinnamon?"

whatever41 User ID: 5204496 83697
Reviewed Oct. 31, 2011

"I don't get the spaghetti thing, but to each his own. The chili is great by itself with bread and butter."

cindylu1231 User ID: 98473 142283
Reviewed Oct. 31, 2011

"As someone who has lived in Cincinnati all my life, I have to say that the other reviews are correct in saying that the meat needs to be boiled in water. Next, we would never add the beans to the chili. They are added separately on top of the chili, along with chopped raw onion to make a 5-way. Then it's topped with finely shredded cheddar. We NEVER add green onions or sour cream!"

jollyoutcast User ID: 4518587 94051
Reviewed Jun. 30, 2011

"Just like back home!"

MrsKase User ID: 3265136 71399
Reviewed Jun. 17, 2011

"We love love love this chili, i made this several times as care dinners for church friends for people with kids b/c this is the only chili I have ever found that kids love! The magic of chocolate I guess=) I could care less if it is not what they serve in Cincinnati, everybody I have ever made it for and me and my family love this chili!"

jodia1971 User ID: 4390636 208079
Reviewed Apr. 4, 2011

"This in no way is anything like Cincinnati chili!!! You do not ever brown the meat, you don't add green onions and never never never do you add sour cream (who ever it was that said that) If you do not know anyone in Cincinnati, you need to try or and you can order the real thing online and have it shipped to you."

cherokee69 User ID: 1661146 83517
Reviewed Feb. 5, 2011

"apparently none of you have ate the real cincinnati chili because the beef is not fried, it is placed in the liquid raw and broken up fine with the hands..This is a knock off and I would be ashamed to call it Cincinnati chili."

Seminoles User ID: 1412865 157843
Reviewed Oct. 13, 2010

"Loved this! I visited Cincinnati a few years back and tried a couple different version of this and loved them all. Nice to be able to make it at home!"

pamah User ID: 1570218 156543
Reviewed Oct. 2, 2010

"Hi - how much water do you use to boil and do you drain it before putting meat in crock pot?  thanks"

pamah User ID: 1570218 164430
Reviewed Oct. 2, 2010

hi - how much water do you use and do you drain before adding to crock pot?

Ronnienron User ID: 3908173 71398
Reviewed Oct. 1, 2010

"You obviously have not eaten Cincinnati chili."

marbecca User ID: 1315768 111457
Reviewed Oct. 1, 2010

"I am from Cincinnati and we NEVER use green onions! You layer this...spaghetti, chili (boiled, not browned with onion), then a heavy layer of finely shredded mild cheddar cheese. That is what we call a 3-way; with raw onions, 4-way; beans added is a 5-way, then topped off with cheese. Always served with oyster crackers. No self respecting Cincinnatian would ever twirl the spaghetti on the fork. Cincinnati style is to CUT the spaghetti with your fork, starting from one end of the plate! That started because of the oval plates used in our chili restaurants."

vickiinmyhead User ID: 4430390 92391
Reviewed Sep. 20, 2009

"I grew up in Ohio and my mother is from Cincinnati, so the chili has been fed to me from a very early age. This is the best recipe that my mother has ever made, and she shared it with me.  It is great. I did not add beans and i browned the meat with water to give it the right texture. Other than that it was great. Add hot sauce and minced onions on top with fancy shredded cheese to get the best tate. Do the same when making chili dogs.Yummm."

ljustus414 User ID: 3905992 143236
Reviewed Feb. 27, 2009

"I live in Northern Kentucky where this type of chili is king. I love this recipe and make it at least once a week. Once you get used to the cinnamon/chocolate flavor it is hard to eat it any other way."

jennyu User ID: 1078618 143212
Reviewed Jan. 12, 2009

"I wasn't sure we'd like this but it was good.  My husband ate his with tortilla chips and I used spaghetti and some raw onions on top.  We both had shredded cheese.  My 3 year old liked it a lot!"

Weavo User ID: 3081286 159081
Reviewed Jan. 12, 2009

"I won't make this chili again. I tasted it after 4 hours in the crockpot and salvaged it with brown sugar and salt. I guess I like Pennsylvania chili better."

lillyjean02 User ID: 3628275 92570
Reviewed Jan. 6, 2009

"You are suppose to top this with grated cheese , a dollop of sour cream and oyster crackers, and chopped onions are optional. Rosie"

Magilatootsie19 User ID: 3173211 94037
Reviewed Jan. 6, 2009

"In true Cincinnati chili the beef is boiled in water and not drain which is why you use the leanest meats.


eclaire User ID: 1000090 157759
Reviewed Jan. 6, 2009

"Re:Cincinnati chili True Cincinnati chili you do not brown the beef first you cook it in water for thirty minutes then add the rest of the ingredients"

pamcanjam User ID: 90654 157757
Reviewed Jan. 6, 2009

"I'm from the Cincy area & true Cincy chili does not have the beans in the chili...add cheese & we call it a 3-way, add onions, too & it's a 4-way. Add the kidney beans & it's a 5-way! Any way you eat it, is delicious!"

cindylu1231 User ID: 98473 159080
Reviewed Jan. 6, 2009 Edited Oct. 31, 2011

"To make this a true "Cincinnati chili," you need to sprinkle finely shredded cheddar cheese to the top."

pinkirishlace User ID: 3336096 159077
Reviewed Oct. 29, 2008

"This is, with out a doubt, the BEST chili I have ever tasted!!! The chocolate and the cinnamon "seal the deal"! Thank you for posting this recipe."

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