If you aren’t familiar with Cincinnati Chili, you should be! I must admit, this is an unusual chili. I grew up in Texas where chili meant meat, beans and spicy, so I was a bit taken aback by this chili.
Cincinnati chili throws this idea on its head with the addition of cinnamon (yep, really), dark chocolate, and a hint of cloves for a unique (and delicious) chili. In Cincinnati, there is a (somewhat fierce) division when it comes to this style of chili as people typically like one of the two main restaurants that serve it: Skyline or Gold Star.
After a while, the taste of Cincinnati chili grew on me so I worked on figuring out a healthier copycat recipe. My husband, who was already a life-long fan, didn’t object at all. The flavors in Cincinnati style chili are healthy to begin with, as cinnamon, chili powder, and cloves all have health promoting properties. Of all the recipes I’ve tried to make a healthy version of, this has been one of the easiest!
Cincinnati Chili Recipe
In Cincinnati, this chili is served over spaghetti noodles (never understood that) and topped with a mountain of cheese, onions, and oyster crackers. We skip those additions and just top with chopped onions or a little raw cheese. Cincinnati chili is not naturally spicy and it has become a kid favorite in our house. It is also delicious as leftovers or as a topping for eggs for breakfast. If you’re brave enough to add cinnamon to to your chili, give this recipe a try!
Cincinnati Chili Recipe
- 4 cups bone broth
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2 medium onions (diced)
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp cloves
- 1 TBSP cumin
- ¼ cup chili powder (mild)
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Pour the broth in to large stock pot.
- Add the ground beef and bring to boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for about 30 minutes.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and reduce to medium low heat.
- Simmer for at least two hours until chili has thickened. Add water if needed during this time.
Ever been to Cincinnati? Had the chili? Ready to try this recipe? Share below!
Discussion (32 Comments)
Kelly Wertz Harris
It never fails to amaze how lacking in manners some people are. There’s an old adage that says “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all.” Cincinnati is my hometown, and I am very proud of our unique traditions. Cincinnati chili is not meant to be compared to say, Texas chili. The recipe above is a good one. I’ve been making Cincinnati chili for years now, since I’ve lived in Texas for 16 years now. I miss the real stuff so much! My recent find in making the chili more like the real stuff is putting some of the chili and pulsing it in the blender, then putting it back in the pot. The chili is meant to have a thinner consistency than normal chili, and this really does that. I do up the white vinegar a bit too.
Also, kudos to the Graeters and goetta reminder! Black raspberry chip is the bomb! Now I’m homesick. 🙁 😉
By “1/2 bar of unsweetened cocoa”, do you mean something like a Bakers unsweetened chocolate bar? Thanks!
Yum, I’ll definitely try this.
I always put a touch of cinnamon in my homemade chicken soup because it helps it keep longer in the fridge (and tastes yummy too).
I was born in Cincinnati and have lived here my whole life! And let me tell you, Cincinnati chilli is Skyline all the way! They even have a low-carb chili bowl. I love Skyline, but what I love even more is restaurants with low-carb options. Gold Star chilli tastes like dirt. Anyone who comes here, steer clear of Gold Star.
I agree! I’m also from Cincinnati. At Jungle Jims (well, the little spice store inside Jungle Jims), they sell the skyline chili spice packets that taste exactly like Skyline. You can use those with grass-fed beef and make healthy skyline. I love it!
Me too.. Cincy all my life and Goldstar is my favorite! Been eating it since the 1970’s.
Do you add the ground beef raw to the bone broth, or do you brown it first?
I LOVE this type of chili! Pre-Paleo, I ate it over noodles, just like the traditional version. I bet it would be good over zucchini noodles if I really get a craving for the “real(-ish) thing.” Thanks for the recipe!
my family loves chili but i’ve never been a big fan of the beans added to it. I wonder if I can get them to try this recipe. It sounds very odd but I’d love to see how it tastes. Thanks for sharing!
I’ve lived in Cincinnati most of my life, and I love the chili! Skyline is obviously way better than Goldstar. lol.
I look forward to making this at home especially since we no longer are in Cincinnati. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
I definitely LOVE this kind of chili, so much so that I am writing a comment (big news, cuz I don’t normally do this). Had it first after my roommate in college recommended it. She used to buy Skyline chili in the can, ewwww, but when we visited Cincinnati we dined in at Skyline and I became a believer. My homemade verison is pretty good, but I can’t wait to try yours! Thanks!
I live in New Mexico, the land of green and red chili. I’ve also lived in Texas and eaten some outstanding ‘cowboy’ chili. When I first moved to Cinci I was taken to a Skyline chili house and stopped eating after two bites. It was the most disgusting glop I’ve ever eaten. Chili with chocolate and spices is nothing new, although in Cinci they seem to think they came up with this idea. Then I had Grater’s ice cream and fail to see why an ice cream laden with hydrogenated soy bean oil and waxy chocolate is considered a tradition. Take the time to drive to Columbus and have the one of the top ten ice creams in the United States, Jenni’s Splended Ice creams. Jenni has a terrific ice cream cookbook and I’ve made some of the best homemade ice cream I’ve ever had; AND it’s eggless and stays scoopable after freezing.
In Cinci they have a tradition of bad taste! Still if you’re looking for another equally limp Cinci tradition, try getta.
Cool your jets Deb! I grew up in Southern Ohio and make a healthy Cincinnati chili for my family regularly. They love it even though my husband was raised in Colorado. Cinnamon and chili is a delicious combo in lots of dishes. Most things have been done before no matter where you are so give Cinci a chance! If you judge any place by their fast food joints then you haven’t really taken the time to get to know it.
I lived there for seven years. no jets involved; this is not judgement. observation. Fast food is poison no matter where you eat it. Air is filled with mercury and that’s why they have one of the highest rates of cancer and allergies.
Incredibly oppressive area, but everyone’s allowed to get drunk as often as they like. Saw Lyle Lovitt while I lived there and he even made jokes about this. I live in Taos, NM now, it’s not perfect but at least everyone is allowed to be who they are. Not too many places left in the US with this kind of freedom. Can’t tell you how many people from Ohio come here ‘to escape’ . . . that’s their words or “I got out alive”.
So, basically, you came on here to slam Cincinatti? That’s pretty rude.
My goodness! Jets in full force! Live and let live. We Cincinnatians love our chili, Graeters and goetta. Let us have our thing. God bless. 🙂
You bet, I live in Calif. and if I do not get my chili fix along with ice cream from Greaters I have withdrawals.
Goetta is the hardest to get.
There is no gotta in Calif. Joyce