Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Seasoned with spices and chocolate, this Cincinnati chili recipe has a unique taste that’s unlike any other style of chili. It’s served over spaghetti and topped with beans, onions and cheese. The cheese is easily swapped to make it dairy free. Cincinnati chili is a great meal for serving a crowd, and can be individualized to each person’s taste. Makes 8 servings.

cincinnati chili recipe

Fall seems to be in full swing in other parts of the world, but somehow it manages to skip Angers.  I mean it’s getting colder and all but not cold enough for me.

I still have the windows open and I can only wear boots to the rink for games or I’m pretty much melting. My craving for fall and cold weather and all things that relate is here to stay.  So I’m making do by making soups and stews and pumpkin and – of course – chili!

Chili is probably one of my favorite things to eat.  I like almost all kind of chili and am rarely disappointed with nice big bowl of spicy meat (and beans sometimes).

cincinnati chili recipe

My favorite of favorites though is for sure Cincinnati style. When I was in high school, our neighbors (and really great friends) were from just outside of Cincinnati and would bring us seasoning packs to make it. But over the years, we have been sadly separated and I have had to make the chili without the packs.

More chili recipes: slow cooker white chicken chili | sweet potato lentil chili | quick and easy beer chili | buffalo chicken chili

How to serve Cincinnati chili:

Cincinnati chili is traditionally served with several options for toppings.  The more toppings, the more “way” you choose.  I like all of the toppings so I like mine “five-way” and even though I’m not supposed to, I put the beans in when I’m cooking the chili.

You can obviously leave them out and use them as a topping if you prefer.  You can read more about the different ways to pile the chili on your plate here, but the layers include chili, spaghetti, beans, onions and cheese.

cincinnati chili toppings

If you love Cincinnati chili, I have a feeling you might like these recipes: Tourtiere: Canadian Meat Pie / Irish Sausages with Onion Stout Gravy



Cincinnati Chili

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 8 1x


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground all-spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound package spaghetti
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or vegan cheese shreds)


  1. Combine the chili powder, paprika, cumin, all spice, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Sauté the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the spice mixture and coat the onions, cooking until fragrant.
  5. Add the ground beef, cooking until no longer pink and breaking the meat into small pieces.
  6. Add salt, tomato sauce, tomatoes, bay leaf, chocolate, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
  7. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until thick. (Cook pasta while waiting for the chili to simmer)
  8. Add beans 5-10 minutes before serving.
  9. Strain pasta, top with chili and serve with cheese and extra onions.

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  • Reply
    December 26, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Cincinnati Chili is one of my favorite foods. Yours looks fantastic. Love all the spices you added!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    I’m from Cincinnati, and I’m so happy to see you have cinnamon and chocolate in your recipe! Do you put yours over spaghetti like we do?

    • Reply
      July 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Yes definitely! I wouldn’t think of changing Cincinnati chili. There’s no other way to eat it 🙂

  • Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I made this last night for dinner. OH. MY. GOSH. It was SO delicious!! Plus, it was really easy to make. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe with the universe!!

  • Reply
    Erin h
    January 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Loved this Chili! I was nervious about the chocolate but it turned out to be amazing!! It was gone in one day!

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