Turkey Chili Recipe

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This delicious Turkey Chili Recipe is made with ground turkey, so it’s a little bit lighter than the standard beef version. It’s full of vegetables and classic spices and it’s ready for all your favorite healthful toppings like diced avocado, green onions, and fresh cilantro.

Two bowls of turkey chili with toppings.


 

This easy Turkey Chili recipe is comes together on the stove top in an hour or less, and it’s packed with plenty of lean ground turkey, veggies, beans, and spices. It makes a satisfying meal, and it’s great for make-ahead meal prep or future freezer meals.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for turkey chili.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Chipotle chili powder: Chipotle chili powder is spicy! If you’re unsure, start with 1 teaspoon (or less) until the chili is fully cooked. Then, taste and add more at the end. You can also substitute ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or omit it entirely.
  • Bell peppers: Or add or substitute carrots, celery, corn, or zucchini.
  • Kidney beans: 3 cups cooked beans can be substituted for the 1 can (that’s about 1 cup dried beans before cooking). You can use any type of canned or cooked bean instead of kidney such as pinto beans or great northern beans.
  • Canned tomatoes: I love the flavor of fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles, but you can substitute regular canned tomatoes and add 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies. Ro*tel tomatoes are good, too.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. To make the homemade chili seasoning, in a small bowl, whisk together chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, chipotle chili powder (if using), coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
A bowl of chili seasoning for turkey chili.
  1. In a Dutch oven or deep, large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, bell pepper, and chili seasoning. Cook until the onions and peppers have softened, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Vegetables and seasoning for turkey chili in a Dutch oven.
  1. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground turkey and cook, breaking up the clumps with a spoon, until the turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Ground turkey, vegetables and seasoning for turkey chili in a Dutch oven.
  1. Stir in kidney beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer for 30 minutes longer.
Turkey chili in a Dutch oven with a wooden spoon in it.
  1. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), scallions, jalapeños, and diced avocado or your favorite toppings.
Two bowls of turkey chili with toppings.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This healthy Turkey Chili recipe makes about 9 cups of chili, enough for 6 hearty servings, 1 ½ cups each.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: Cool within 2 hours, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days in advance. Reheat the full recipe on the stove over low heat to 165 degrees. Reheat small batches in the microwave.
  • Freezer: Cool cooked chili to below 40 degrees on an instant-read thermometer within 2 hours and place into airtight containers. Frozen chili will last 4 to 6 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • More toppings: Cheese, sour cream, and scallions are classics. You can also try diced avocado or heaping spoonfuls of guacamole, crispy cooked bacon, fresh cilantro, minced white onion, hot sauce, lime wedges, tortilla chips, corn chips (Fritos), or oyster crackers.
  • Favorite sides for chili: Enjoy a spicy-hot bowl of Turkey Chili with classic CornbreadSoft Dinner Rolls, or No-Knead Bread. If you prefer to make cornbread from a box or buy a loaf of bread from the store, that’s fine too! Round out your menu with a simple garden salad.
  • Crockpot turkey chili: After cooking the vegetables and browning the turkey, transfer everything (including all remaining ingredients) to a slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Chili Cheese Burrito: Put leftover chili to work in this easy Chili Cheese Burrito. Just fold up leftover chili with cooked rice and shredded cheese, then toast in a dry skillet.
  • Classic Beef Chili: This easy Beef Chili recipe tastes just like the one mom used to make! It’s also easy to customize with your own special additions if you want to.
  • Chili con Carne: Made with boneless beef chuck roast instead of ground beef, this delicious Chili con Carne recipe has layers of flavor from bacon, fire-roasted tomatoes, lots of garlic, and all the classic chili spices. And it’s made right in your slow cooker!
  • Chili Mac: Made in just one pot in 25 minutes or less, this easy Chili Mac recipe is like a great bowl of chili in casserole form. It’s perfect for the busiest, hungriest weeknights.
  • Hot Dog Chili: Make a batch of Hot Dog Chili to spoon over Chili Dogs for the ultimate tailgate recipe! It’s perfect for any game day celebration.
  • Sweet Potato Chili: This hearty vegan Sweet Potato Chili is loaded with black beans, vegetables, and all the classic spices. Like all chilis, it freezes well and makes a great meal prep option.
  • Cincinnati Chili: Made famous by Skyline Chili in Ohio, this Cincinnati Chili recipe is full of secret ingredients and served on spaghetti with lots of toppings like shredded cheese, raw onions, and kidney beans. Which “way” do you want yours?
  • White Chicken Chili: When the temperature drops, slow cooker White Chicken Chili is the ultimate comfort food. Tender chunks of chicken simmering in a creamy broth studded with white beans, green chiles, and corn make for a most satisfying meal.
  • White Turkey Chili: This is my favorite soup to make after Thanksgiving when leftovers are abundant. It’s hearty, creamy, and a refreshing way to enjoy leftover turkey all over again. To keep things easy, make White Turkey Chili right in your slow cooker.
  • Turkey Wild Rice Soup: A perfect use for your leftover turkey. It’s creamy, delicious, and ready in just 40 minutes.
  • Venison Chili: If you’re lucky enough to have some ground venison in your freezer, this Venison Chili recipe is the one you’ll want to make all winter long.
A bowl of turkey chili with toppings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the secret ingredient in a good chili?

You mean besides love? There is no one secret ingredient, but rather the layering of flavors at every step of the process. Incorporate rendered fat, use the freshest vegetables, and also season with salt TO TASTE. You should taste it and make sure you love it before you serve it.

What is turkey chili made of?

Turkey chili is made with lean ground turkey, vegetables like onions and celery or bell peppers, and plenty of chili spices. Add some canned tomato products and chicken broth or water, and you’re good to go. Let it simmer!

Is ground turkey a good substitute for ground beef in chili?

Ground turkey is an excellent substitute for ground beef in chili. It makes a lighter dinner that is better for your health but still packed with protein. Add plenty of beans and vegetables for good carbohydrates and fiber, and you’ve got a meal to be proud of.

More turkey recipes to love

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Turkey chili in a small brown bowl.

Turkey Chili Recipe

This delicious Turkey Chili recipe is made with plenty of vegetables, beans, and spices and it's just waiting for all your favorite chili toppings!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 servings (1 ½ cups each)
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Calories 400
5 from 10 votes

Ingredients 

For the chili seasoning:

To make the chili:

To serve:

Instructions 

  • To make the homemade chili seasoning, in a small bowl, whisk together chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, chipotle chili powder (if using), coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  • In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, bell pepper, and chili seasoning. Cook until the onions and peppers have softened, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add turkey and cook, breaking up the clumps with a spoon, until the turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in kidney beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer for 30 minutes longer.
  • Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, and diced avocado or your favorite toppings.

Notes

  1. Chipotle chili powder: Chipotle chili powder is spicy! If you’re unsure, start with 1 teaspoon (or less) until the chili is fully cooked. Then, taste and add more at the end. You can also substitute ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or omit it entirely.
  2. Bell peppers: Or add or substitute carrots, celery, corn, or zucchini.
  3. Kidney beans: 3 cups cooked beans can be substituted for the 1 can (that’s about 1 cup dried beans before cooking). You can use any type of canned or cooked bean instead of kidney.
  4. Canned tomatoes: I love the flavor of fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles, but you can substitute regular canned tomatoes and add 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies. Ro*tel tomatoes are good, too.
  5. Yield: This recipe makes about 9 cups of Turkey Chili, enough for 6 hearty servings, 1 ½ cups each.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5 cupsCalories: 400kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 34gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 325mgPotassium: 1438mgFiber: 9gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 4045IUVitamin C: 43mgCalcium: 177mgIron: 9mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. If Meggan (and now she and her crew) posts it, it’s going to be good. She is a natural when it comes to great tasting food. Believe it!!!5 stars

  2. Chili is the dish or spice blend. Chile is the pepper, whether fresh, dried or ground. If these these spellings were used, people would know they should a spice blend, or for example, ground ancho. As a Midwesterner, perhaps I am wrong on this.

    1. Actually, if you search around, you will find that the two spellings are used interchangeably. According to Wikipedia, this is called a “dialectical preference” and exists between cultures when sharing words. Chile is also a country. But you know that already. BTW, the American language contains over one-billion words so many ‘preferences’ exist.

  3. I heard about your blog from a family member. It’s a rainy day and I thought Turkey Chili would ge a good first recipe to try. The recipe made a big, beautiful pot of thick chili and it was delicious! I look forward to trying more of your recipes, Meggan!

    1. Hi Cindee, I appreciate you stopping by and trying this recipe, I hope you find many more treasures here! Take care! – Meggan

  4. This is a killer recipe if you like Turkey Chili. I made it for a group of eight dinner guests over the holidays and three people requested the recipe. That’s a sure sign you’ve got a winner. Another great one from Meggan and Culinary Hill. Thanks Team

  5. I tried this and it’s amazing! If you were to try to half this, would you change anything besides just reducing everything by 50%?

    1. Hi Jessica, I’m so happy to hear you loved it! I would cut everything in half, including seasoning with salt and pepper that is listed in the directions. (You can always add more!) I also would probably choose a smaller bay leaf rather than cutting one in half, since they usually vary in size. Thanks for the question, enjoy! – Meggan

    1. Hi Mark, sorry for the slow reply! To make the turkey chili in a crock pot, I would at the minimum brown the ground turkey first. It’s up to you if you want to soften the vegetables first and do all of that stuff with stirring in the spices, or if you just want to dump everything in a crock pot. I don’t know how much the taste would change. I’ll put it on my list to test a slow cooker version. Thanks! -Meggan

  6. Hey just a heads up, your metric measurement for chili powder is wrong!
    Lovely recipe, can’t wait to try it!5 stars

  7. Oooo K! Since you’ve never posted a bad recipe, I’ll have to try this. I’m a beef eater but if you say this is great – then I’m in. I’ll even give it a go in your Cincinnati Chili. lol5 stars