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Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Have you ever tried Cincinnati Chili? It’s seasoned with a unique blend of spices and chocolate, then served over spaghetti! Make it a “five-way” and top with beans, onions and dairy free cheese. This is great for serving a crowd or enjoying chili like a local Ohioan.

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.

close up view of cincinnati chili in a white bowl topped with onions beans and cheese

What I love about Cincinnati chili

Whenever I am day dreaming of fall and cold weather I make do by making soups, stews, 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).

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 the packs aren’t available around here, so I’ve learned to make it from scratch.

If you love Cincinnati chili, check out my recipe for Skyline chili dip.

overhead view of chili cooked in large skillet

Here’s what you’ll need to make it

homemade chili seasoning

How to make Cincinnati Chili

Combine dry ingredients. Mix the spices together in a small bowl or jar. Set aside.

Sauté the onions and garlic. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and garlic. Let them cook, stirring as needed, until the onions are translucent and soft. Add the spice mixture and stir to coat the onions.

Brown the beef. Next, add the meat and let it brown, breaking it into small pieces as it’s cooked through (no longer pink).

Simmer the chili. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Let it cook down until it gets a bit thicker. This is usually when I cook the pasta.

Serve the chili. I like to add my beans into the chili because we all like beans in our house, but traditionally they’re served as a topping.

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.

FAQS and tips for making Cincinnati Chili

What is different about Cincinnati chili?

Traditional Cincinnati chili is made with chocolate and cinnamon, which aren’t included in other versions of chili. It’s served over spaghetti and topped with beans, onions and cheese.

What kind of meat is in Skyline Chili?

Skyline chili, and other Cincinnati chili recipes are made with ground beef.

What is a Cincinnati three way?

This would be Cincinnati chili served with just spaghetti, chili and cheese. No beans, no onion.

Do noodles go in chili or not?

Normally noodles go in chili (if you’re including them), but for Cincinnati-style chili spaghetti, the chili is served on top of the noodles.

close up of cincinnati chili in a white bowl

This game day recipes:

More chili recipes you’ll love:

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cincinnati chili recipe

Cincinnati Chili

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 8


Have you ever tried Cincinnati Chili? It’s seasoned with a unique blend of spices and chocolate, then served over spaghetti! Make it a “five-way” and top with beans, onions and cheese. This is great for serving a crowd or enjoying chili like a local Ohioan.


  • 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.
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 469
  • Sugar: 4.9 g
  • Sodium: 858.3 mg
  • Fat: 25.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 12.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25.3 g
  • Fiber: 5.2 g
  • Protein: 35.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 99.9 mg

Keywords: Cincinnati chili, chili with spaghetti, dairy free chili

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Melissa Belanger

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  1. 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?

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

  2. 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!!

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

  4. Love this products, we HAD a Skyline Chili in Brooklyn but it closed now we none on the West side 😤
    Very frustrated with this. They said they were going to move or rebuild at a new west side location but nothing has happened. We need a west side location is anyone hearing this at Skyline?????