Classic Turkey Chili

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This healthy turkey chili has a rich, spicy flavor and thick texture — and it’s loaded with nutrient-rich kidney beans.

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing more inviting than a big pot of chili simmering on the stove. This classic and healthy turkey chili is adapted from The Complete One Pot Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, a great resource for reliable meals made with a single pot or pan. The chili has a rich, spicy flavor and thick texture, and it’s loaded with fiber-rich kidney beans.

Since ground turkey is lean and can easily dry out, the recipe uses a genius technique to ensure the meat stays moist. Instead of adding all of the meat at once, a portion of the turkey is sautéed in the beginning and cooked low and slow to build flavor. Towards the end of the simmering time, the remaining turkey is pinched into small pieces — almost like mini meatballs — and stirred into the chili, creating chunks of tender turkey in every bite. Be sure to use 93% lean ground turkey, which is a combination of light and dark meat, rather than 99% lean ground turkey breast.

What You’ll Need To Make Turkey Chili

turkey chili ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Roughly chop the onions, bell pepper, and garlic and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
vegetables in bowl of food processor

Pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the vegetables are finely chopped. Do not over-process; the vegetables should not be puréed. (Alternatively, finely chop the onions, bell pepper, and garlic by hand.)
minced vegetables in bowl of food processor

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables, chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne pepper.

vegetables and spices in Dutch oven

Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
softened vegetables and spices

Add about 1-1/4 pounds of the turkey to the pot.

adding part of the turkey to the pot

Increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

partially cooked turkey with vegetables and spices in pot

Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes and their juice, crushed tomatoes, broth, and salt and bring to a simmer.

adding tomatoes and beans to the pot

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the chili has begun to thicken, about 1 hour.
simmering the turkey chili

Pat the remaining 3/4 pound turkey together into a ball, then pinch off teaspoon-size pieces of meat and stir into the chili.

adding the remaining turkey to the chili

Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until turkey is tender and chili is slightly thickened, about 40 minutes. (If the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot or looks too thick, stir in extra broth as needed.)

finished turkey chiliTaste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, and serve with your favorite chili toppings.

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Classic Turkey Chili

This healthy turkey chili has a rich, spicy flavor and thick texture — and it’s loaded with nutrient-rich kidney beans.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 2 Hours
Total Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add up to 1 teaspoon for a spicier chili)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey, divided (see note)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth, plus extra as needed
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt

For Serving (Optional)

  • Cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream, cheese, scallions

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop the onions, bell pepper, and garlic and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the vegetables are finely chopped. Do not over-process; the vegetables should not be puréed. (Alternatively, finely chop the onions, bell pepper, and garlic by hand.)
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables, chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add about 1-1/4 pounds of the turkey, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes and their juice, crushed tomatoes, broth, and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the chili has begun to thicken, about 1 hour.
  4. Pat the remaining 3/4 pound turkey together into a ball, then pinch off teaspoon-size pieces of meat and stir into the chili. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until turkey is tender and chili is slightly thickened, about 40 minutes. (If the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot or looks too thick, stir in extra broth as needed.) Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, and serve.
  5. Note: Be sure to use 93% lean ground turkey, which is a combination of light and dark meat, rather than 99% lean ground turkey breast. (The 99% lean ground turkey breast will have a dry texture.)
  6. Make Ahead: Cool slightly, and then refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  7. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The chili can be frozen for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 466
  • Fat: 21g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Sugar: 15g
  • Fiber: 12g
  • Protein: 39g
  • Sodium: 1484mg
  • Cholesterol: 114mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Has anyone made this in the Instant Pot? If so, how long would you cook it?

    • — Christina on March 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • I might have already reviewed this, I don’t know, I have reviewed quite a few of Jenn’s recipes and even more have told my friends about her cooking. But anyhow, how can something so simple be so good? I mean, it’s chili. Who follows a recipe when making chili? Well, you should! Another one done ✔️ right Jenn! Thanks for being a kitchen prowess!!

    • — Holly Walters on March 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve tried a lot of Turkey Chili recipes, but this one is my favorite. I served it over rice and with shredded cheese and a handful of corn chips. Yum! Thanks, Jen!

    • — Janelle on February 12, 2021
    • Reply

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