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Rootin'-Tootin' Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Rootin'-Tootin' Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Yes, there's root beer in this spicy chili, and it adds a nice touch of sweetness. Serve over spaghetti and let everyone add their own favorite toppings. —Holly Gomez, Seabrook, New Hampshire
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 25 min. Cook: 30 min. YIELD:4 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup root beer
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • Hot cooked spaghetti
  • Optional toppings: crushed tortilla chips, chopped green onions, and shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses


  • 1. In a large saucepan, cook the beef, onion and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Add the tomatoes, root beer, chili powder, tomato paste, chipotle peppers, cumin and bouillon. Bring to a boil.
  • 2. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve with spaghetti. Garnish with chips, green onions and cheeses if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 310 calories, 15g fat (5g saturated fat), 70mg cholesterol, 662mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate (14g sugars, 4g fiber), 23g protein.

Reviews for Rootin'-Tootin' Cincinnati Chili

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Wildfiremustang User ID: 1330024 241215
Reviewed Jan. 6, 2016

"Very good and different."

rebelwithoutaclue User ID: 4288906 227638
Reviewed Jun. 9, 2015

"A real big stretch to call this Cincinnati chili. There is NO chili powder in Cincy chili, no tomatoes. The ground beef is boiled and chilled overnight. Where is the chocolate un-sweet square, vinegar, cinnamon Worcestershire, all spice and cloves. Not even close to the 1946 original recipe. Root beer can go in a lot of things but not if you are looking for the original 'Skyline chili'!!!!!"

lmmanda User ID: 1101093 226701
Reviewed May. 21, 2015

"As written, I give this 4 stars. I though it was a little too sweet with the root beer so I added an additional 1t or so of tomato paste, I decreased the chili powder due to the fact my husband doesn't like spicy foods (I used about 2t). I also added a bay leaf since the last "reviewer" mentioned "real" Cincinnati chili is made with it. I also did not use chipotles with adobo sauce, I used chipotle salsa to taste. I also added salt since it just didn't taste quite right. After these additions, I would give it a 5 star rating. I served it with spaghetti and cheese. To those who rated it 1 star due to it's lack of authenticity, I think you are doing a disservice to those of us who use these ratings to determine whether or not We want to make a recipe. I don't care if it is authentic, I just want to know if it tastes good!"

MicheleinOhio User ID: 6248725 218412
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2015

"Please take the word Cincinnati out of the title for this chili. It is nothing like Cincinnati chili. CC has 1lb grd beef & 1 lb grd pork boiled in water. Then you add chopped up onions, bay leaves, tomato paste, salt & pepper. It is usually served over vermicelli and topped with kidney beans, onions and shredded Colby cheese. This used to be called a Hay Wagon. Now it's called a 5-way."

mindysmama User ID: 6929696 218406
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2015

"I have lived all my life In Cincinnati and that's a long time. This chili was good but I can assure you that it is not Cincinnati chili. I grew up on Cincinnati chili as well as my kids and grands. I know what I am talking about. Good but nowhere near Skyline, Dixie, Empress or Gold Star which are all true Cincinnati chili."

jofritz User ID: 4355205 174928
Reviewed Oct. 6, 2014

"This is okay but please don't call it "Cincinnati" chili! We lived in Cincy and this is definitely not the same!"

Candon User ID: 6763924 169742
Reviewed Dec. 11, 2013

"this has become a favorite dish in my family. Use different noodles, corn bread and the like to keep it interestiing"

hotballer65 User ID: 6447144 171055
Reviewed Dec. 11, 2013

"Not even close to Cincinnati style chili !"

shecooksalot User ID: 5888460 103422
Reviewed Dec. 10, 2013

"A good, different way to have chili for us, but a little too much kick for our family."

stevie_b User ID: 5864456 103420
Reviewed Sep. 28, 2013

"I've tried this recipe a couple of times and find it to be a pretty good chili. I liked it because it is a bit different...certainly not your average beef and bean chili. What it is NOT is any kind of Cincinnati chili. Authentic Cincinnati chili has no adobo chilies in it because they're too smokey and it always includes cinnamon and sometimes chocolate. Cincinnati chili is always served over spaghetti, some add beans on top, some add cheese on top and some include chopped onions too."

Jenisl User ID: 6929561 109711
Reviewed Apr. 1, 2013

"This was okay but being from Cincinnati, it doesn't taste like Cincinnati chili at all."

peavenson User ID: 2208252 171053
Reviewed Aug. 9, 2012

"Having tried this recipe and real Cincinnati chili (yes I boiled the meat, etc) I like this one better. The cocoa was not to my liking in the original Cincinnati......try this one, easy, quick and the right amount of "kick"

In fact, am making tonight for dinner"

kcc1108 User ID: 6410537 211481
Reviewed Feb. 20, 2012

"A bit of a kick to it but not too much and a fair amount of vegetables as well."

Linda Connor User ID: 5239101 103419
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2012

"This had quite a "kick" I tamed it down with some cream cheese as well as mild cheddar. Loved by all."

momto4barons User ID: 2005967 128312
Reviewed Feb. 2, 2012

"This would never pass as Cincinnati


kitzer User ID: 4188178 146011
Reviewed Feb. 2, 2012

"There must be as many recipes for chili as there are for potato salad!! (I didn't know there was 'specific' Cincinnati chili!!)

To me this looks and sounds like 'mexican spaghetti'!!
I'll stick with MY recipe!!!"

MillieK User ID: 2684435 189479
Reviewed Feb. 2, 2012

"I want to add my voice to the "This is NOT Cincinnati chili". Though there are several different variations on Cincy chili (I've been making my own -- original Empress chili) for over 38 years, this is definitely NOT one of them, not even close..oh, wait, it does use ground beef & onions. I don't deny this might be good, I just wouldn't call it Cincinnati chili. This is closer to spaghetti sauce with a kick than to Cincy. chili. There, that's off my chest now. I may try this just because the ingredients sound tasty, but it will be called Rootin-Tootin' chili around my house for obvious reasons. Like one reader said...where's the cinnamon & cocoa?"

pdillard61 User ID: 2212712 211480
Reviewed Feb. 2, 2012

"I'm sure this is good chili but I agree with the other Cincy natives, this is NOT Cincinnati chili. Cocoa and cinnamon are essential ingredients and you don't brown the meat in the traditional way but cook it in tomato sauce until it's fine in texture. And definitely no root beer!"

MommyAustin User ID: 6342491 117317
Reviewed Nov. 16, 2011

"My Husband and I thought this was good, but almost too spicy. We love spicy foods, but this dish won't be making another appearance on our table. It was a one-time dish."

collegeave User ID: 2051962 211479
Reviewed Mar. 26, 2011

"This had a very good flavor but BOY IT WAS HOT! and I use regular petite diced tomatoes! Would have sent us over the edge if I would have used the tomatoes they called for. So just be ware that it is SPICY HOT"

billbaar User ID: 5795885 188172
Reviewed Feb. 27, 2011

"NOT Cincinnati Chilli.

There are NO green peppers, no chipotle peppers, no bouillon cube, no tortilla chips, no parmesan cheese and NO Cincinnati love in making this chilli.
It IS missing the Cinnamon, Alspice, oyster crackers, shredded COLBY cheese"

keepers1118 User ID: 4029139 128310
Reviewed Jun. 23, 2010

"This was very tasty. I used an orange pepper since I didn't have a green one. I'll try it next time with ground turkey."

novice_cook User ID: 5188552 189477
Reviewed May. 31, 2010

" I kind of wondered the same thing. Seems more Latin American with the chocolate rather than Cincinnati.

Cook38 User ID: 1584232 211478
Reviewed May. 31, 2010

"Just a quick comment. I've lived in Cincinnati most of my life, and other than being served over spaghetti, I'm curious why you decided to call this Cincinnati chili. The secret here is actually chocolate and cinnamon in the chili, and when it's served, the only toppings we put on are LOTS of finely shredded cheddar, kidney beans, onions, and oyster crackers. Just wondering..."

lisalc98 User ID: 1431289 103416
Reviewed Apr. 16, 2010

"My husbands favorite chili!!"

cloreep User ID: 668273 128309
Reviewed Feb. 9, 2010

"This chili was great! I loved the sweet and spicy sauce. I even left out a little of the chipotle peppers and I used regular diced tomatoes and it still had plenty of kick. I also substituted bulk pork sausage for half of the ground beef. I would love to add beans and use this as a regular chili without the noodles. But it was really fantastic!"

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