This turkey chili is a win-win. It makes it to the table — or into a big bowl next to the sofa — in just less than an hour and tastes fantastic. It’s healthy, too.
It’s really hard to mess up this chili; pretty much any combination of browned meat, some sort of chili powder (more on that later), a vegetable or two and something tomato based will result in a perfectly delicious pot of chili.
This means you get to adjust things as much as you like — change the turkey to chicken or even beef. Or, if your looking for ways to use leftover roasted turkey from Thanksgiving, shred it and use it here. There are lots of adaptations you can do. Still, this version — the one we make the most often ourselves, is our go-to.
Our Go-To Turkey Chili Recipe
We start with sweet onions and savory mushrooms.
Not a mushroom fan? Don’t worry, we cut them really, really small and use them to add depth and a savory taste. We’ve done this before, in fact mushrooms are the secret ingredient to our Turkey Meatloaf Recipe. People love it!
Once the onions and mushrooms are tender and gently browned, we add lean ground turkey and cook, gently breaking the meat apart with a spoon until crumbly and golden brown.
Next, a hefty dusting of ancho chili powder, cumin, a tiny bit of cinnamon and some garlic gets thrown in. Everything toasts for a minute or two — the kitchen smells amazing — and we add the last few ingredients: hand-crushed tomatoes, a little water and beans.
After 20 minutes of simmering the turkey chili is ready.
What is ancho chili powder? Can I use what I already have?
Ancho chili powder is dried, ground ancho peppers. Generic “chili powder” is usually a blend of ground chilies and other spices.
Ancho chili powder is on the milder, sweet side. It’s incredibly rich in flavor and works beautifully in this chili, dusted onto meats or tossed with vegetables and roasted. There are a variety of options for buying. For this recipe, we used ancho chili powder from McCormick, which we found in our local grocery store.
Feel free to substitute other chili powders in this recipe and make it your own. Chipotle chili powder would be a great option. If you do switch things up a bit, add the chili powder slowly and taste for how strong or spicy it makes the chili. Amounts might vary.
Here’s a recipe for turkey chili that calls for regular chili powder from Chow: Spicy Turkey Chili Recipe and here’s one from My Recipes that calls for chipotle chili powder: Chipotle Turkey Chili Recipe.
One of the best things about this chili — if not most chili recipes — is that it gets better and better over time. As much as we love cooking and would love to say we make dinner every night, we just don’t. Having a big pot of chili in the fridge ready for us is a welcomed sight.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 8 ounces crimini or baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped (15 to 20 medium mushrooms)
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- To Taste: Hot sauce, 1/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo puree
- Optional Toppings: Avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, sliced green onion
- Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, until they’re tender and some of the edges are browned, about 7 minutes. Add the turkey and salt, and cook, breaking up the meat into crumbles, until most of it has browned, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin and the cinnamon. Cook until the garlic and spices just begin to toast, about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, open the can of tomatoes, pour them into a bowl and use kitchen shears or your hand to break the whole tomatoes apart into smaller pieces — the size is up to you, we like a variety.
- Pour tomatoes into the skillet along with the water and rinsed beans. Stir then bring to a simmer. Taste the chili then adjust with additional salt and/or chili powder. Add optional hot sauce, cayenne or chipotle in adobo puree.
- Reduce to a low simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced and chili has thickened, about 20 minutes.
We use kosher salt. If you don’t have it on hand, keep this in mind: 1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt = about 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt.