Indian Creek Chili

Indian Creek Chili Recipe

Mixed with spaghetti and topped with cheddar and sour cream, dinner doesn’t get much cozier.

Serves10 to 12

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Bowl of Indian Creek chili
Credit: Kelly Marshall

This is a mild chili, similar to the one I grew up with. It’s the perfect meal for a frosty fall evening. It’s perfect for a family of all spice preferences; you can increase the heat for those who want it (like my husband) or enjoy its tomatoey mildness. 

At my house, we now top it with a scoop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and serve it with Saltines on the side. When we owned Wild Fig Books and Coffee in Lexington, we served our chili with goat cheese underneath and cornbread that had a touch of sweetness. 

It makes a great meal on its own, or you can serve it with grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwiches on the side. The addition of spaghetti — typical in this region — stretches it to feed a large family.

Indian Creek Chili Recipe

Mixed with spaghetti and topped with cheddar and sour cream, dinner doesn’t get much cozier.

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info


  • 2 pounds

    ground beef or ground turkey

  • 1

    large onion, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons

    chili powder

  • 2 tablespoons

    garlic powder

  • Crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 (14- to 16-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes, with their juices, or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes

  • 1 (14- to 16-ounce) can

    kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 46 ounces

    tomato juice (5 3/4 cups)

  • Table salt

  • 7 ounces

    dried spaghetti

  • Sour cream, for serving

  • Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving


  1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Working in batches as needed, brown the ground meat just until no trace of pink remains, stirring often. If there is a lot of rendered fat, drain that off.

  2. Move the meat to one side of the pot and add the onion. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until it has softened, then stir the chili powder, garlic powder, and a small pinch of red pepper flakes into the meat.

  3. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, the kidney beans, and tomato juice. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. About 15 minutes before the chili is done, bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Salt it generously. Add the spaghetti and cook to al dente following the directions on the package. Drain the pasta and add it to the pot of chili.

  5. Cover and cook for the remaining minutes so the pasta absorbs some of the chili’s flavor. Taste and add more salt and/or red pepper flakes as needed. Serve hot, with sour cream and cheese.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks by Crystal Wilkinson copyright© 2024. Photographs by Kelly Marshall copyright © 2024. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.