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

  • One of my ALL TIME favorite chili recipes on the internet! This is so perfectly spiced and seasoned and just is so hearty and cozy. A ++++ . The beef stew recipe is a classic, my husband asks for it repeatedly in the colder months as well. Overall, your recipes are fantastic and I’ve been a faithful reader for many years now. Keep up the delicious recipes!!

    • — Aya K on February 3, 2021
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  • Great, full bodied alternative to beef chili! I added an extra can of kidney beans and only used 1/2 the cayenne and red pepper flakes. Next time I’ll just finely chop onion, red pepper and garlic by hand. Not worth hauling out and cleaning the food processor for one step and such a small amount. If you do opt for food processor, be sure you use pulse and keep checking texture, it quickly pulverizes! This makes a big batch, I ended up with three tall soup containers after eating a bowl. Definitely a keeper!

    • — Marcia F. on February 3, 2021
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  • This was a Fantastic Chili Recipe! My husband and I made it, and even the children gave it a “10 out of 10”! The spices are perfectly blended, and yet do not overwhelm. The kids also did not recognize that it was Turkey instead of Beef. This is definitely a winner! Thank you, Jenn!

    • — amy on February 3, 2021
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  • Love this turkey chili, it’s my go-to one pot dinner that is super rich and thick and healthy. I added equal portions of kidney beans, butter beans, and garbanzo beans for some variety. It pairs nicely with your cornbread recipe. So happy I stumbled unto your website in 2020, because now that we are staying at home, I am constantly cooking and your recipes are by far, My Favorites!

    • — Nita Byers on February 1, 2021
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  • I have made this chili time and time again, and it always pleases! It’s perfect for those cold winter days/nights. Occasionally, I will substitute ground bison when it’s available at my local market. Don’t forget the toppings, plenty of sour cream, cheese and scallions:-)

    • — Shawn Lybrand on February 1, 2021
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  • I enjoyed this chili very much, but I made a few modifications. I used only a pound of turkey, which was plenty of meat for me and my family. I used fire roasted diced tomatoes. And, I added some cubed butternut squash that I had picked up a my local Trader Joe’s and needed to cook. I went a little heavier on the spices as well and paired the chili with your pumpkin cornbread muffins. The final product was a yummy dinner perfect for a cold winter evening. All three of my girls, my husband and I all gobbled it up for dinner and leftover lunches for a couple of days. Delish!

    • — Tamara on January 31, 2021
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  • Mild Red Chili version – I am not a chili person. Except for white chicken chili, I usually avoid chili. However, your photo just tempted my tastebuds and somehow the ground sirloin I bought for cheeseburgers ended up in a pot of chili from this recipe! Since I can’t tolerate spicy food, I shortcut with half McCormick’s chili mix plus a mild chili-lime mix that I love and with the ease of all the steps, I made a most delicious pot of chili. I also added a 1/4 cup of Apothic Red wine which has chocolate undertones and a dark smooth finish so it really made the chili richer and thicker. I had to switch to my larger slow cooker pot and finished the chili on high, stirring occasionally. I love the extra meat chunks, and with premium ground sirloin it was a hit with my family! Topped with the sour cream, cilantro & scallions, lime wedges and a mixture of cheddar and English old cheddar for sharpness. Thank you for making my chili an adventure to create along the way, I needed an easy go-to recipe and a way to dress it up with a gourmet finish!

    • — Teresa Nickell on January 30, 2021
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  • This recipe is hearty and delicious and one of my favorites. The cumin and coriander are my go to spices for stews and chilis. It has a perfect combination of flavors. I’m making it again during this cold spell.

    • — Valerie S. on January 30, 2021
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  • Hi, Jenn! I don’t have a lot of luck with ground turkey and I’m not sure why. I still had some in the freezer, though, and I thought, “OK, I’ve give it another go.” This is a great recipe because the turkey soaks into the broth – to me, that’s key because turkey is so bland, salt-less, etc. I cooked it in my cast iron pot and also added a can of chick peas and a can of chili bean with no salt. The spices were good, so other than a couple more bits of pepper and some sea salt when serving, no more was needed. Thanks for that!

    • — Shannon G. Preston on January 30, 2021
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  • This recipe was delicious! I added an extremely tablespoon of cumin. It was a big hit with my book club!

    • — Mary Duenow on January 30, 2021
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  • I recently made the Classic Turkey Chili. We really liked it. It is easy to make and tasted great. Next time I will try it with less meat and more beans.

    • — Erena Rieflin on January 30, 2021
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  • Made this and the kids loved it. I make beef chili often so I was thrilled they liked the turkey. I used two red bell peppers and added some frozen corn. I will definitely make again.

    • — Tina on January 30, 2021
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  • I made this last night and of course it was delicious! I’ve made Turkey chili many times but never puréed the veggies which I think made a big difference in the flavor! Another keeper – thank you for your wonderful recipes.

    • — Stephanie on January 30, 2021
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  • Turkey chili is my favorite and was looking for a new recipe and stumbled across this one. So good and not too hard to make….the more you make it the faster it goes each time. Perfect for these cold winter days and I prefer turkey to ground beef. So happy that I found your website during 2020. A huge thank you!

    • — Sonia on January 29, 2021
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  • Sorry I meant to give 5 stars!

    • — Louise Plume on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made as written, really nice, love the addition of coriander

    • — Andrea on January 29, 2021
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    • Made this tonight and it went down well with all 6 of us. Particularly like the healthier use of turkey over beef.

      • — Louise Plume on January 29, 2021
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  • Made this the other day and it came out just great! I’d never made chili before and I’m glad I came across this recipe. Thank you

    • — Amit on January 29, 2021
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  • Delicious!
    I also add cauliflower rice as a healthy filler, chili hides the flavor well.
    I love on spicier side, add 5 older (older ones = spicier) serrano & jalapeños, with seeds.

    • — Autumn M French on January 29, 2021
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  • I made this just last night. I was hoping to have left overs for the next few days, but guess what? That didn’t happen! Will be making more of this very very soon

    • — Jen Pehlivan on January 29, 2021
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  • My family and I were pleasantly surprised…tasteless turkey turned into an amazing dish…
    I look forward to your next recipe book.

    • — Jonnette on January 28, 2021
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  • I never had made turkey chili before and this recipe exceeded my expectations! My husband loved the little “chili meatballs” (as he called them) that you stir in after the first hour of cooking. I hadn’t cooked with ground coriander before, so this was a first for me…..what a wonderfully aromatic spice! I substituted black beans for the kidney beans, since we prefer those, and they worked great with the turkey. I’ve added this one to our meal rotation, and it makes plenty for leftovers that freeze well. Definitely a winner at our house!

    • — Nancy Chambers on January 28, 2021
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  • Great recipe! We love a great turkey chili in this house! We added a bit more cayenne and some smoked paprika to spice it up a bit more. Also, we roasted a can of fiesta corn to start it off and then added the other veggies to the mix.

    • — Brandon on January 28, 2021
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  • Easy to make and fit for whole family. Perfect amount of spice and healthy option. My family can’t get enough

    • — Dorothy Hummel on January 28, 2021
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  • My family loved how this was packed with flavor. I did have to leave out the chili flakes and cayenne since they are fussy on spiciness but I substituted smoked paprika and it was great!

    • — Juanita J Kelly on January 28, 2021
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  • This is a great recipe. I’m widowed but still work in the corporate world. So finding recipes I can make single servings from but stretch it out for not too much effort is great. This turkey chili fits that criteria. Love to make a dish on a Sunday that I can have for quick dinners during week nights after a long day. Love that it is turkey, going for the healthier fare. I added can of chili’s because I like a little spicier. Overall fantastic recipe. Been following you for couple years. Your recipes are phenomenal. I’ve served them for dinner parties, when my kids come to visit and everyday. Keep up the great efforts. Thanks

    • — Rftupper on January 28, 2021
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  • Yum! Outstanding recipe!

    The method of incorporating ground turkey is simply brilliant with the teaspoon sized portions added at the end making it a very hearty meaty chili.

    Thanks!

    • — Mac on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was delicious! We are big chili fans, so I had to try this. I did add a little more of the spices recommended, because I’m all about flavor! I added extra bell pepper and some fresh chopped jalapeno because.. I also love my veggies! Definitely would make again

    • — KJ on January 28, 2021
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  • Just finished my first bowl of this chili and wow. Delicious! I used mostly ancho chili with a little bit of smoked paprika and chipotle chili because that’s what I had in the pantry. But otherwise, I did no tweaking of the ingredients. I used unsalted tomatoes and didn’t need extra salt. The texture with the little meatballs was spot on. For me, the level of heat and spice was just right. Tonight I had this with sour cream, Mexican blend cheese, and tortilla chips. Tomorrow I’ll make the everyday cornbread as an accompaniment. Perfect for these cold winter nights. Another winning recipe!

    • — Kathy H on January 28, 2021
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  • I really loved this chili! I used an 85% lean ground turkey and added an additional can of beans, but followed the recipe otherwise. Felt good that it was a bit healthier than using ground beef and couldn’t tell the difference. The flavors were great, and I loved the method of adding larger chunks of ground meat at the end. I’ve used plenty of Once Upon a Chef recipes in the past year, and have enjoyed everything I tried.

    • — Yvonne on January 28, 2021
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  • This turkey chili was great! We paired it with the homemade cornbread, and it made an exceptional five-star meal for a cold winter’s night.

    • — Susan Henderson on January 28, 2021
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  • I tend to lean towards beef because I sometimes find turkey chilli less tasty. Boy was I happy that I tried this; delicious, ingredients compliment the turkey very well!

    • — Sandra on January 28, 2021
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  • Looks delicious. I can’t wait to make it.

    • — Tony Green on January 28, 2021
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    • This is an amazingly simply recipe with pantry staples for the busy weeknights. The fam loves it and my five yo is a fan and that is a winner for me.

      • — Sushmita J on January 28, 2021
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  • This chili was amazing. Adding the pinches of Turkey was a great idea. It made the chili seem even heartier. This is our family’s new favorite and do easy to make!

    • — Leona on January 28, 2021
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  • Best chili recipe. It was absolutely fantastic!

    • — VALERIE GARDNER on January 28, 2021
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  • Love that the turkey keeps this lighter than using beef. Yummy!

    • — Michele on January 28, 2021
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  • This is a great chili recipe. I don’t eat red meat so this is perfect!

    • — Andini Benjamin on January 28, 2021
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  • I typically use beef for my chili and I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor of this Turkey Chili. Definitely will make it again during the cold winter months ahead.

    • — Zee on January 28, 2021
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  • This is without a doubt the best chili I’ve ever made. Forget beef chili. Period. This turkey version has a definite kick, but the heat is very manageable and it can be enjoyed by the whole family (I’m the only one in mine that likes spicy)! I made it for lunch on a cold day when we had a friend helping my husband put together a play set outside. I paired it with the sweet cornbread which worked great. The sweet offsets the spicy to create a wonderful balance. The combo was a huge hit and I got rave reviews by our guest and my husband and five yr old! I’m planning on making another batch soon, I can’t stop thinking about it! This will definitely be my go-to chili recipe going forward!

    • — Caroline Judy on January 28, 2021
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  • Made this for my family and it was truly delicious! Love that the recipe is made with turkey rather than beef for a healthier option!

    • — Emily Koger Goyer on January 28, 2021
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  • Amazing. I have become a once upon a chef stalker since the pandemic. I have made so many recipes from this site. The Turkey chili is totally comforting, easy to make and leftovers freeze perfect! We are actually having leftover from the freezer tonight for dinner. I did make the cornbread to accompany it. I wasn’t a big fan. I think I over baked it. My husband thought they were ok. I’ll try it again at a later time. I did serve the chili with Ceasar salad and used the Ceasar dressing recipe from this site and gotta say, it is great. Don’t hesitate to make the turkey chili, it is a winner.

    • — Naomi on January 28, 2021
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  • This turkey chili was delicious! I am a widower and have relearned to cook. Your easy to read recipes are easy to follow, thanks. I usually have to cut the ingredients in half as it’s just me. But this turkey chili was perfect in flavor. I have enjoyed your first cook book and look forward to your emails with new recipes.
    B. Jones

    • — Bill Jones on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for my family for the football playoffs. It was a huge hit! It had great taste and very easy to make! I will definitely be making this dish again! Every recipe I try is always spot on!

    • — Kate Baldino on January 28, 2021
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  • Loved by all, including my picky eater son—he even asked for seconds. Made the recommended corn muffins on the side, which went wonderfully with the chili. I especially liked the two textures of the ground turkey.

    • — JL on January 28, 2021
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  • I just took a container of this chili out from the freezer for lunch today and it was still as good as the day I made it, so satisfying on a cold winter day, thanks Jen!

    • — Sabrina on January 28, 2021
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  • One of the hallmarks of a truly good recipe is its versatility. Especially nowadays, when ingredients aren’t consistently available, and a lot of us are more conscious about food waste.

    We only like the dark meat from the chickens we roast, and I’m frequently looking for ways to use the breast meat.
    I followed the recipe, only substituting the chicken, and the result was so delicious!

    I’ve also used ground beef, as the only market that reliably delivers during these challenging times is small, and doesn’t carry ground Turkey. Once again, the results were excellent!

    • — Christina on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Yummy! This recipe is perfect for a cold winter day. It’s hearty and tasty. I’m sensitive to spicy so I was careful with the cayenne pepper.

    I found the recipe produced more than 6 portions. We put at least half in the freezer for the next cold night.

    • — April Brown on January 28, 2021
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  • I found it tasty, but not that different from other turkey chilis that I’ve made in the past. With the split turkey method I thought it would be more flavorful than it turned out. Maybe I need to try it again.

    • — Kimberly on January 28, 2021
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  • I made this recipe on a cold blustery evening and paired with a salad and corn bread. It was filling and scrumptious. Using turkey instead of beef made it healthier and the other ingredients gave it lots of flavor. Since there is only two of us at home now, I had lots leftover so I froze it and pulled it out of the freezer a couple of weeks later when my daughter and son-in-law were over. It was just as good the second time around as it was the first. This will remain a staple dinner for us.

    • — Ellen Dalton on January 28, 2021
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  • I made this last week and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it came together. I enjoyed the flavor and outcome of the recipe, however, I made a couple of tweaks. I added another can of beans because only using the 1 can made the beans seem to get lost in all the meat. Also, I wanted more a spicier chili, so I added in about a 1/2 teaspoon more of red pepper flakes and a few sprinkles of ancho chili pepper. With those changes, I loved the chili even more.

    • — Madison on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I love this turkey chili recipe, as well as your chicken chili recipe! I’ve made them several times! I absolutely love all of your recipes. I can’t wait for your new cookbook!

    • — Sabrina on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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