Cincinnati Chili (1)
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You’re in for a tasty treat if you’ve never tried beefy, season Cincinnati chili.

This meal is unlike any chili you have ever had; it features a beefy sauce with an odd combination of spices. All of it is thickened and deliciously cooked before being piled high on a bed of spaghetti.

It’s a flavorful dinner that will thrill your family and receive high praise.

Cincinnati Chili is created differently than regular chili because it uses unusual flavors like cocoa powder, cinnamon, and allspice!

What is chili from Cincinnati?

Cincinnati Chili Easy (1)
Food: Cincinnati Chili (Source: Taste of Home)

This chili is a highly spicy meat sauce that is normally served over spaghetti, not in a bowl like typical chili and is named for the city of its origin, Cincinnati. It is a well-known local delicacy, and the Smithsonian has recognized it as one of the “20 Most Iconic Foods in America.”

Some claim that Cincinnati chili, which dates back to the early 1900s, is a riff on moussaka or other similarly spiced Greek meat dishes.

The Skyline diner chain popularized it and promoted it, and it is still a mainstay on its menus today. Without ordering a plate of “Skyline Chili,” a visit to one of these restaurants would be incomplete.

Making Cincinnati Chili

Although this delicious meal is simple to make, it does require some time, most of which is spent simmering. This dish has a few distinctive components.

  1. Cook onions. Combine the raw beef with the remaining ingredients in the same pot (the beef is not browned first).
  2. Simmer for two hours, scraping fat as necessary.
  3. Serve Cincinnati-style over spaghetti (more serving info below).

Feel free to change up the spices to suit your tastes. Cumin would give the meal even more personality. If you want a little additional zing, Worcestershire or Tabasco sauces might work well.

Serving Options for Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati-style chili is typically served with kidney beans or chili beans, grated cheddar, and chopped onions as garnishes. To consume this meal, smother it in toppings and separate the spaghetti with a fork (instead of twirling it like you would an Italian spaghetti and meatballs dish).

Always start with a base of spaghetti for the “way” system.

  • Two-way: simply chili on top.
  • Served three ways, with cheese and chili on top.
  • Chili, chopped onions, and shredded cheese are added to a 4-way onion.
  • Topped beans, cheese, and chili make up the “4-way bean.”
  • 5-way: everything! Add cheese, beans, onions, and chile as garnish.

The ideal approach to serving this dish is to give your family a choice of toppings on the side.

How to Use Up Chili That Was Leftover

The shelf life of leftovers is up to four days in the refrigerator or four months in the freezer.

Simply replace a dish in the microwave or a pot on the stovetop and cook until bubbling hot. No need to thaw the food first.

Your family will be in for a wonderful treat if they’ve never had Cincinnati-style chili before and they love chili!

Chili in Cincinnati

The family will love this simple yet flavorful recipe, which is packed with diverse ingredients.

15 minutes to prepare

2 hours 15 minutes to cook

2 hours 30 minutes in total

portions: 4 portions


  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf

for serving

  • spaghetti
  • cheddar cheese
  • white onion chopped
  • beans kidney or chili beans


Cincinnati Chili Yum (1)
Food: Cincinnati Chili (Source: Taste of Home)
  1. To a saucepan, add onion and olive oil. The onion should be cooked till soft over medium heat.
  2. Include the remaining ingredients, including the beef that has not been cooked.
  3. Skim any fat off the surface and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for two hours or until thick.
  4. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve heated spaghetti over it.


Only the chili’s nutritional information is provided.

Nutrition information

Calories: 463 | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 1105mg | Potassium: 1063mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2300IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 6mg