This Cincinnati Chili recipe is a delicious, comforting dish hailing from the Midwest. Cooked with signature spices that give the chili a unique flavor, this savory dish is warm and irresistible!
Cincinnati chili is a Midwestern delicacy! This quick and easy comfort meal brings the authentic taste of this classic pasta dish straight to your own home. There are many different ways to enjoy Cincinnati chili, but this smoky, slightly sweet meat sauce is most commonly served over spaghetti noodles and is garnished with chopped raw onion and cheese.
Cincinnati chili was first introduced in the early 1920s by the Kiradjieff brothers, 2 men who immigrated from Macedonia to Cincinnati, Ohio. Although it does include ground beef and tomato sauce, their recipe resembled more of a pasta sauce rather than chili. Around that time, chili parlors were gaining in popularity, giving this dish its famous but misleading name.
Cincinnati chili has a similar texture to traditional chili, but the flavor profiles differ greatly. Traditional chili is filled with veggies, beans, and meat and tends to be spicier and saltier. There are also no beans mixed into Cincinnati chili, but they’re sometimes used to garnish the dish.
- Ground Beef—Will give this dish tons of meaty flavor.
- White Onion—Finely diced. You can also use a yellow onion in a pinch.
- Chicken Broth—Or you can use 2 cups of hot water and a chicken bouillon cube instead.
- Tomato Sauce—To help thicken the chili and add an acidic bite.
- Seasonings—A fragrant blend of chili powder, ground cumin, and garlic powder.
How to Make Authentic Cincinnati Chili
- In a medium sized pot, cook the ground beef until it’s no longer pink.
- Add the white onion, chili powder, ground cumin, and garlic powder. Cook until the onion is softened.
- Pour in the chicken broth and tomato sauce. Bring the pot to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and allow the chili to simmer until it is thickened.
- Serve and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Cincinnati chili is commonly served on its own, over spaghetti noodles, or on top of hot dogs. You can add diced onions and cheddar cheese for a more authentic taste and experience!
Typically, you want to simmer your chili with the lid off because this will be the best way to reduce liquid. After about 20-30 minutes, you should see the mixture thickening up!
How to Store and Serve Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati chili can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days and also saves well in the freezer for up to 5 months! When you are ready to eat your chili again, you can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through.
In the Midwest, they have specific ways they like to eat Cincinnati chili! They refer to it as the “way” you want it served. Two-way serves the chili on top of spaghetti noodles, three-way adds cheddar cheese, four-way adds onions, and five-way adds kidney beans on top. It’s up to you how to serve Cincinnati chili, but adding cheese, onion, and beans makes for a hearty and filling dish!
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Since the ground beef is the base of the dish, I recommend using between 80-90% lean. It is inexpensive and blends well with the other flavors of the dish.
- For an even sweeter Cincinnati chili, you can try adding a little bit of cinnamon and a dash of cloves to the recipe! These spices give the dish just a little extra warmth and a cozy feel.
- As you’re browning your ground beef, make sure you cook it slowly on a low temperature so you do not burn or overcook the beef. The burnt flavor will overpower the rest of the dish.
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- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium white onion diced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- In a medium sized pot, cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink.
- Once the ground beef is cooked, add the white onion, chili powder, ground cumin, and garlic powder to the pot. Allow the diced onion to cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the chicken broth and tomato sauce. Bring the pot to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and allow the chili to simmer for 45-50 minutes, or until thickened.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Cincinnati chili is commonly served on its own topped with cheese and raw chopped onions or served over cooked spaghetti topped with cheese and raw chopped onions.
- You can store your Cincinnati chili in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat your chili in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- If you do not have chicken broth, you can use 2 cups of hot water and a chicken bouillon cube.
- This chili is also great topped with sour cream or freshly chopped parsley.
Cincinnati Chili has a savory taste with the ground beef and onions mixed with a unique blend of spices that will give you a variety of flavors with each bite! It’s truly an unforgettable and unique meal!