I’ve never had Cincinnati Chili before and it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve even been tempted to try.

But when Bon Appétit featured a story about different regional chili recipes, it wasn’t the Squash and Black Bean California-inspired Chili that caught my eye, it was the thinner Cincy Chili, customarily served over spaghetti that had me add chili to next weeks menu. Proud? Not exactly. But totally honest.

It was delicious. And although you may scoff at the idea of adding cocoa and cinnamon (like the Taster), I promise it doesn’t taste sweet. :) I wasn’t initially crazy about serving it over spaghetti, but with all of the appropriate toppings it was an amazingly filling meal. Best served with a salad.

Cincinnati Chili - 4 hearty servings - inspired by Bon Appétit

  • 2 white onions, chopped (reserve 1/2 – 1 cup for topping)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef (I used 90% lean)
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 4 servings spaghetti (I used a quinoa/corn pasta)
  • shredded cheese for topping
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Chop onions and garlic. Don’t forget to reserve some onions for topping the chili.


Heat olive oil in large pot…… add onions; saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic; stir for about 1 minute.

Add ground beef; cook until brown, breaking into pieces, about 10 minutes.


Add all spices, apple cider vinegar and tomato paste. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.


Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about an hour.


Serving Options:

In Cincinnati, there are 5 different options for serving.

  1. Plain
  2. Two Way: Chili and Spaghetti
  3. Three Way: Chili, Spaghetti and Cheddar Cheese
  4. Four Way: Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar Cheese and Onions
  5. Five Way: Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar Cheese, Onions and Kidney Beans

But in my house, the Five Way is the only way to go. I just can’t imagine it any other way.

The real question is fork or spoon? We went with forks but any Cincy people know what it is served with? Or does it depend on how you order it?

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