Cincinnati Chili

Flavored with unexpected spices, serve this meaty Cincinnati Chili over cooked spaghetti with all classic garnishes: beans, onions, and tons of cheese!

The first time I made Cincinnati Chili, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it.

Looking over a few different recipes as I went, I realized it was more meat sauce than soup. And the spices were weird! Cinnamon? Allspice? Cloves?

I was skeptical.

Flavored with unexpected spices, serve this meaty Cincinnati Chili over cooked spaghetti with all classic garnishes: beans, onions, and tons of cheese!

I persevered, though, and you should too.

By the time you spoon it over cooked spaghetti and bury it in shredded cheese, you’ll be a believer.

This recipe is inspired by Skyline Chili. I’ve never been there, but I imagine it is to chili what Maid Rite is to loose meat sandwiches.

Or what Culvers is to Butterburgers.

In any case, Skyline has the ultimate Cincinnati Chili recipe and all the ways you might want to eat it. If you’re not living in Ohio, though, you can easily recreate this classic at home.

Flavored with unexpected spices, serve this meaty Cincinnati Chili over cooked spaghetti with all classic garnishes: beans, onions, and tons of cheese!

3-Way: Spaghetti, Chili, Cheese.

4-Way: Spaghetti, Chili, Cheese or Onions.

5-Way: Spaghetti, Chili, Cheese AND Onions.

The beans are dark red kidney beans. The cheese is shredded cheddar. The onions are white and raw.

Not pictured but always a good idea: oyster crackers!

Save this Cincinnati Chili to your “Main Dishes” Pinterest board!

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Flavored with unexpected spices, serve this meaty Cincinnati Chili over cooked spaghetti with all classic garnishes: beans, onions, and tons of cheese!
4.67 from 3 votes
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Cincinnati Chili

Flavored with unexpected spices, serve this meaty Cincinnati Chili over cooked spaghetti with all classic garnishes: beans, onions, and tons of cheese!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 294 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds 85/15 ground beef
  • Cooked spaghetti, for serving
  • Shredded cheese, dark red kidney beans, finely chopped onions, and oyster crackers, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Cook onions until softened, about 5 minutes. 

  2. Stir in garlic, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, tomato sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. 

  3. Stir in beef and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. 

  4. Serve over cooked spaghetti with desired toppings such as cheese, beans, onions, and crackers.

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9 comments

  1. I’ve heard of Cincinnati Chili before, but I’ve never checked it out. This has some of the same seasonings (that we don’t normally associate with chili) that a Mole sauce does…the spices, specifically. I’ve added dark chocolate to chili before, and it adds a depth of flavor, but doesn’t taste chocolate-y of course. This chili sounds a bit more tangy (which I like) with the vinegar and worchestershire. This may be on the menu this weekend. I love chili, but I’m a bit tired of my same old-same old.


  2. Thank you Meggan for answering “What am I doing for dinner tonight?” I have read of this and it’s origins so it’s time to take the plunge. I’m hungry for pasta anyway. I’m giving this a five before I make it, because all your stuff is good. You’re really a country girl at heart. :-))


  3. I made this tonight and it was out of the park. Not that I doubted you, but, the amounts of cinnamon, clove, allspice, and oregano were a bit disconcerting, (I use Mexican whole oregano, so I did cut that in half because it is twice as potent as domestic, Italian or Greek.) BUT the spices DO work very well together in those amounts! So, continuing IN THE SPIRIT of the original Ohio recipe, I simmered (vice frying) my beef to just done in enough water to cover, then drained it to remove most of the grease – yeah, it dirties more dishes. The original calls for boiling it then leaving it sit overnight refrigerated and then removing the hardened fat, etc, etc….. With 85/15, there’s really not that much so boiling then draining works well. The original also calls for using fresh-ground whole spices – too much work for a single batch so your ground spices are much more practical. Anyway, Cincinnati would be proud and this is definitely a “5-star keeper” in my favorites. A home run! Good job kid!!!

  4. We don’t ever have this in Canada, that I know of. But yours is the best looking I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been a foodie for quite a few decades.

    • Thank you so much, Laura! We don’t have this in Wisconsin either, but my brother-in-law is from Ohio so I found out about it. And I felt like I just had to post it! It’s way too good not to share. :) Thanks again for reading and for the very thoughtful comment.


  5. I grew up by Cincinnati and ate at Skyline weekly! (Wednesday nights were kids eat free back in the day.) That said, the recipe I use actually has a bit of unsweetened cocoa in it too! (Weird, I know, but it taste so good- about a Tablespoon or 2). The man who started Skyline Chili was from a small village in Greece so the unusual spices make sense. Thanks for sharing this! I make this at least once a month, and when I go home to visit I ALWAYS go to Skyline!

    • Thanks for the suggestion Chrissie! One of my amazing readers is currently testing the recipe with different ingredients including chocolate and cocoa powder (in different batches, of course). I may be updating my recipe depending on his findings and my own upcoming tests. Another person recommended chocolate, too. Thanks so much for your comment!

  6. We must be in Cincinnati! I can smell the chocolate in the chili!

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