When I was growing up my mom used to make a version of this Cincinnati chili, which we’d eat over spaghetti, topped with diced onions and shredded Cheddar cheese.  My mom liked to try new recipes from time to time, but she had certain staples that she came back to every month or so and this was one of my favorites. Just smelling the fragrant chili, seasoned with ground cloves and cinnamon, brings me back to my childhood, and I can almost picture my family enjoying it around our sturdy wooden dining table.

I recommend filling your families’ bellies with a warm and nutritious meal such as this one before they hit the streets on October 31st for trick or treating. Or, they might enjoy this homemade macaroni and cheese to counteract all the candy they’ll consume later that night.

The spices give this simple chili such a rich flavor that it has become a staple in our home. It’s also so easy to make, and it makes enough for two meals. Consider freezing half for a busy night down the road—you’ll thank yourself later.

For a bolder flavor, add 1 1/2 times the amount of chili powder, cinnamon, cloves and garlic powder.  For even more spice, add chopped fresh or canned jalapeno peppers or a tablespoon of canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (pickled jalapenos with a wonderful smoky flavor found in supermarkets’ international aisle or in Latino markets) when you add the other spices.

The chili goes great over spaghetti or with corn muffins or cornbread and with a crisp salad with sliced onions, Parmesan cheese and dried cranberries.

Recipe: Cincinnati Chili

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes - 1 hour min(s)
  • Servings: 10, about 1 1/2 cups each

A great meal for kids to eat before Trick-or-Treating fun!


    • 2 lbs. lean ground beef, chicken, turkey, or vegetarian ground “meat”
    • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
    • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 3/4 tsp. ground cloves
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 28 oz. whole tomatoes. with their liquid
    • 28 – 30 oz. canned red kidney beans, with their liquid
    • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese for serving (optional)


    • In a large stockpot over medium heat, sauté the meat and onions until the meat is nearly browned (if you are using meatless crumble, add it with the liquid ingredients and let it simmer—no need to brown it).
    • When the meat is cooked about halfway through, add the chili powder, cinnamon, garlic powder and cloves, and let it continue to cook for 2 - 3 more minutes until the meat is no longer pink.
    • Add the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Simmer the chili gently for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
    • Serve it immediately topped with the cheese (optional) (the chili’s also great over noodles or rice), or refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.

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One Response to “Cincinnati Chili”

  1. Dawn Klein

    This is similar to my chili. We like adding a bit of cheese and sour cream to individual bowls, before we eat it. I like mine with elbow macaroni. People give me raspberries about noodles in my chili, but that’s the way my mom always made it, too! My mom didn’t have a recipe, just threw it together. Once I made it and wrote down what I did and have made it that way ever since!