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?

16 Comments (Reply )

  1. Tiffany @ Simply Shaka
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    I say spork! I’ve never tried Cincinnati chili and I dont know why? I love chili and love spaghetti so bring it on!


    • Emily
      Feb 21, 2011 @ 11:24 am

      Didn’t even think of spork! Of course!


  2. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 9:23 am

    I absolutely love chili! I have heard that chocolate is the key ingredient, though I’ve never tried it. I’m a pasta fiend, so I’m completely down with the spaghetti addition!


  3. Estela @ Weekly Bite
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    I love chili with noodles! Looks delicious :)


  4. Holly @ Couch Potato Athlete
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    I’ve been to Cincinnati and their chili is fabulous! Ever since then my mom serves chili with spaghetti. I think forks would work best — although maybe you need a spork?


  5. kate
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 10:58 am

    my grandpa used to make chili like this and we loved it! he was from WI tho?! i think the addition of cocoa powder sounds awesome.


    • Emily
      Feb 21, 2011 @ 11:25 am

      It is, the cocoa and cinnamon just add something…but you can’t really figure out what it is!


  6. Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 11:56 am

    I would do it with ww spaghetti, black bean chili, onion, and kidney beans! :) I love how you added so many spicy spices! ;) Cayanne is one of my favorites! It really spikes up the tastebuds! :D


  7. mary beth houlihan
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    i started using cinnamon and cocoa powder in my chili a couple years ago and haven’t looked back since. today would be a perfect day to stay home and make chili!!


  8. Erica
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

    I have never had chili with noodles before, but love them both so much. This is a brillant idea and will be giving this a try. Next week it will be on the menu for sure :)


  9. Michelle @ Housewife in the Raw
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

    I went to Cincinnati several times for my last job and the people there are PASSIONATE about their chili. It’s funny to watch them debate the different styles and restaurants (Skyline and Gold Star). One of my coworkers would pick up cans of Skyline chili to take back with her on the plane.


    • Emily
      Feb 21, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

      So funny! It’s like Minnesotans arguing over the best juicy lucy. I have heard of the skyline…it’s always without beans though, right? Unless you add them as a “topping”?


  10. Katie@Cozydelicious
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

    The cinnamon and cocoa sound great… but the pasta? I’m not sure I’m convinced, but I’ll try anything once!


  11. Kristi Rimkus
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 8:14 am

    I have a coworker whose husband make this type of chili with cocoa and cinnamon. They say there is no better way to serve it. I’m not a big pasta fan, but my husband will love it. I’ve gotten him use to whole wheat pastas now, and he doesn’t mind a bit!



  12. Lori@FakeFoodFree
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

    As close as we live, I don’t think I have had true Cincinnati chili. This looks wonderful! My hubs is not a fan of cinnamon in savory meats, but I’m a fan. In Brazil, we had a lasagna with cinnamon in the meat sauce, I recreated it and loved it. Him, not so much. :)


  13. Caroline
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    I go to Ohio State which isn’t in Cincy, but I’ve had more than my fair share of Cincinatti style chili. I always eat it with a fork :)


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