When my 3 yr old announced “I love chili”, it quickly became a staple on our dinner table; as the options that she “loves” are pretty limited.  While, I’d say that homemade chili is actually pretty good for you, I started making turkey chili, which is a bit lighter and healthily than traditional beef or pork.  And best of all, because chili is such a rich recipe, with so many different options and flavor profiles, I don’t think you lose anything in terms of flavor, texture or enjoyment in any way.  I make this version on the stove top, but it's also great for those who love slow cooker recipes that you can set and foret.  So, give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

To make the best turkey chili, just make sure to do the following

  1. Chili is about layering complex flavors, one way to ensure they combine and ensure the right complexity is to let it cook.  Plan for at least 5 - 6 hours!
  2. Don’t forget the salt and pepper.  Because there are so many other spices involved, many don’t think basic salt and pepper are important.  They are.
  3. Toast the spices and the tomato paste a bit before adding the tomato sauce
  4. Be creative.  It’s hard to wrong with chili.  If you have an idea…go for it!


  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 16 ounce cans of crushed tomato
  • 1 16 ounce cans white beans
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 12 ounce beer
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 5 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Turkey Chili

  • Heat a large pot over med-high heat and coat the bottom in olive oil
  • Add the ground turkey, season with salt and pepper
  • Toss the turkey, stiring until fully cooked through
  • Remove the turkey meat from the pot, and hold in a bowl
  • Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot (if needed), and add the onion, pepper, garlic, and season with salt and pepper
  • Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, string occasionally, until the onion is translucent
  • Add the spices, and toast for about 1 minute; stiring to ensure they don’t burn
  • Add the tomato paste, and cook for 3 - 4 minutes, until the tomato paste turns a rusty color
  • Add the turkey meat back to the pot, along with the crushed tomatoes
  • Add enough chicken stock to make the chile fairly loose, and stir-able
  • Bring the chili to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 - 4 hours (at least)
  • Open the can of beans and rinse off the packing liquid, leaving the cleaned beans
  • Add the beans to the chili, and continue to cook for at least another hour
  • Taste the chili, and adjust the salt and pepper as needed
  • If the chili is too thick, add some additional chicken stock to thin it; or alternatively, if too thin, continue to simmer until the chili reaches the desired thickness.

Serve and enjoy!

Wine Recoomendation for Turkey Chili

Of course, you can't wrong with a beer and chili, and I respect that choice a lot.  For wine, I really love to pair zinfandels with spicy "stews" like chili.  Zin's are typically pretty high in alcohol, which helps it stand up to big flavors, and they are also on the fruitier side, which also helps with the richness in the chili.  Enjoy!

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