This turkey chili is a win-win. It makes it to the table in just less than an hour and tastes fantastic. It’s healthy, too. Jump to the Healthy Turkey Chili Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
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.
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How to Make the Best Turkey Chili
You can adjust the recipe below 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. With that said, the version below is our go-to.
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 dash of cinnamon and some garlic are 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.
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.
What is ancho chili powder?
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.
Recipe updated, originally posted October 2014. Since posting this in 2014, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
Irresistible Healthy Turkey Chili Recipe
This turkey chili is a win-win. It makes it to the table in just less than an hour and tastes fantastic. Lean turkey is browned for flavor then simmered with savory mushrooms, onion and ancho chili powder. The chili is great straight away, but gets even better over the next couple of days.
You Will Need
1 tablespoon extra-virgin 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
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
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 or stock
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Heat the oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are tender and some of the edges are browned, about 7 minutes. Add the turkey, season generously with salt and pepper. 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 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, pepper and/or chili powder. Reduce to a low simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced and chili has thickened, about 20 minutes.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Ancho chili powder is dried, ground ancho peppers, while 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. Feel free to substitute other chili powders in this recipe. 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.
- Optional ingredients: Add hot sauce, 1/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo puree to taste.
- Optional Toppings: Avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, sliced green onion
- Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.