Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

published Oct 24, 2019
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Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

You only need six ingredients for this Cincinnati-style chili recipe, which will satisfy any Skyline Chili cravings. Just don't forget to top it with a mountain of shredded cheese.

Serves4

Makes4 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook4 hours to 8 hours

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Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

I was born and raised in Ohio, so Cincinnati chili brings back all sorts of memories for me. Going to Skyline (if you know, you know) was one of my favorite fall activities — it was always a special treat when I got to go before choir practice or after dance class.

Cincinnati chili has amassed such a cult following that you can now buy cans of it, but better yet, you can buy the spice mix! That means the iconic dish is super easy to make at home. Here’s how I do it.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

What Is Cincinnati Chili? 

Cincinnati chili was created by a Macedonian immigrant restauranteur in the 1920s, according to What’s Cooking America. It’s thinner in consistency than most chilis, and is heavy on the ground beef. It’s flavored with a mixture of Middle Eastern-inspired spices like cinnamon and allspice, and there’s also a surprise addition of cocoa powder or unsweetened chocolate — sounds bizarre, but somehow, it just works.

Cincinnati chili is most commonly served atop hot dogs or spaghetti, and is always topped with a mountain of finely shredded cheddar cheese. Raw onion and hot sauce often finish the dish to make it one of Midwest’s best comfort foods.

I like to make mine in the slow cooker (in fact, it’s my preferred method for any type of chili), and to make it super easy, I turn to the spice packet. But if you don’t have time to order one, replace the packet and the cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons chili powder and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.

Looking for a stovetop version? We’ve got that, too!

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

You only need six ingredients for this Cincinnati-style chili recipe, which will satisfy any Skyline Chili cravings. Just don't forget to top it with a mountain of shredded cheese.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 4 hours to 8 hours

Makes 4 cups

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    small white onion

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    lean ground beef

  • 1 (2.25-ounce) packet

    Cincinnati Chili Spice

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    tomato sauce

  • 1 cup

    water

  • 2 teaspoons

    unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 pound

    cooked spaghetti, for serving (optional)

  • Garnish options: 2 cups finely grated cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup raw diced white onion, and hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Chop 1 small white onion and mince 3 garlic cloves. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic, season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, and cook until the onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.

  2. Add 1 pound ground beef, 1 packet Cincinnati chili spice, 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce, 1 cup water, 2 teaspoons cocoa powder, and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine.

  3. Cover and cook until the flavors are combined, 8 hours on the LOW setting or 4 to 6 hours on the HIGH setting. Taste and sesaon with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve over cooked spaghetti if desired, topped with finely shredded cheddar cheese, raw diced onion, and hot sauce. 

Recipe Notes

Ingredient substitution: In place of the spice packet, you can use 3 tablespoons chili powder and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice and omit the cocoa powder.

Storage: The chili can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 1 month in the freezer.