Cincinnati Chili

  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
  • Total: 1 hr 5 min
  • Active: 1 hr 5 min


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck

Kosher salt

1 6-ounce can tomato sauce

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons chopped unsweetened chocolate

1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Freshly ground pepper

12 ounces spaghetti

1 19-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 pound grated cheddar cheese

Oyster crackers, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add half the chopped onions and the garlic and cook until soft, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves. Cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add the beef and cook the mixture, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bay leaf and 1 1/2 cups water; simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thicker. Add the chocolate, vinegar and Worcestershire and cook until the mixture is thickened but still soupy, about 15 more minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain well.
  4. Discard the bay leaf and season the chili with the freshly ground pepper. Divide the spaghetti among bowls and top with the chili, beans, remaining onion and cheddar. Serve with the oyster crackers if desired.
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51 Reviews


While I can't speak to whether or not this recipe is authentic "Cincinnati Chili" or if it resembles Skyline, I can say that it lived up to my expectations. I knew what to expect from having a canned Skyline chili. Based on suggestions here, I made a few small adjustments. I had 2 lbs beef, so I did a 14 oz can diced tomatoes and an 8 oz can tomato sauce. I used 2 cups beef stock instead of 1 1/2 cups water. I went off book and added a little nutmeg and oregano. I read oregano in another recipe and it just made sense to me with the Greek influence. I wanted it to feel like a pasta sauce and it totally worked. Neither flavors were discernible individually in the end as in it didn't "taste like" oregano or nutmeg. The chocolate I used was an admittedly old bar of 85% dark that I bought at Trader Joe's a while back and I think it worked well. I used about half of the salt, because a tablespoon seemed like too much, especially with the beef stock vs. water. I chopped the onion fine and cooked them a little low and slower until they were pretty soft. When I added the spices, it almost made a kind of paste-y texture. Not quite a paste as the onions were still intact. It was a perfect base for the ground beef and it combined nicely. I followed the steps according to the recipe aside from taking things slower. I wasn't in a hurry and I really wanted to develop a nice flavor, so I took my time, about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. I even added some water as it was simmering when it got too thick. The onions completely disappeared and the tomatoes were just a bit noticeable, but mostly totally cooked down. At first taste, I understood why one reviewer here said it was grainy. The texture was absolutely fine served over spaghetti with cheddar cheese, onions, kidney beans, hot sauce, and oyster crackers. I resisted the urge to just add the beans to the chili and use them as a topping like I'm supposed to. I'm having my second serving now and it's even better than yesterday. I hope this very long winded review helps someone and I'm interested to hear any feedback you may have!

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