Low-Carb Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati chili with cheese and onion. Since the original dish is often served over spaghetti, we ladle it over spaghetti squash. Diane Macdonald/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Total Time 70 min
Prep 20 min, Cook 50 min
Yield 8 servings

If you're never had Cincinnati chili, you must put aside your preconceptions about what chili is, because although Cincinnati chili shares many of the basic ingredients with Texas chili, it is seasoned and cooked quite differently, as it originated from a Greek stew. Cinnamon and chocolate in a chili? Yep, you got it right. But no one will guess! We love it at our house.


  • 2 lbs ground meat (I use half turkey and half beef)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 T chili powder (depending upon the heat of the powder and your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T Worcestershire Sauce.
  • 1 oz
  • unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon beef
  • Better Than Bouillon or 3 bouillon cubes
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 T red wine vinegar (optional and traditional)
  • 1/4 C dry red wine (very optional and very non-traditional)


Originally, the meat for the chili was boiled instead of browned. This gives a different consistency to it - the pieces of meat are very small and separated - no clumps. Most recipes I've seen do brown the meat with the onions, though. This is the way I do it, which is kind of a cross between the two:

  1. Put the meat and onions in a stock pot or large deep frying pan, and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add about 2 cups of water and mix and chop with a spatula until the hamburger is pretty well broken up.
  1. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 45-60 minutes.

Correcting the seasoning at the end is important, so taste it and judge whether it needs more salt or spice. Although Cincinnati chili isn't supposed to be super-spicy, you can add heat if you like, or a little vinegar to perk up the flavor, or salt, or a bit of sweetener if it's harsh.

In Cincinnati, you can have it as above with or without cheese and/or onions. Or you can have:

Two-way chili - on spaghetti (we use spaghetti squash - How to Cook Spaghetti Squash)
Three-way chili - on spaghetti with cheddar cheese
Four-way chili - on spaghetti with cheese and onions
Five-way chili - all of the above, plus kidney beans

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