How To Make the Easiest Classic Turkey Chili

updated Jan 29, 2020
Turkey Chili

Looking for an easy weeknight chili that the whole family will love? This turkey chili is it.

Serves8 to 10

Prep30 minutes

Cook45 minutes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Chili is one of the most satisfying winter meals I know how to make. Tender beans, meat, and tomatoes are cooked with a variety of spices for a simple yet satisfying stew that is incredibly flavorful. This chili features ground turkey, which is a great alternative to ground beef (especially if you’re cooking on a budget) and makes for a more mild, kid-friendly stew.

You’ll find this chili is similar to our classic chili, but boasts a few smart tricks to temper the heat of classic chili and keep the lean turkey from tasting dry. Here’s a simple turkey chili that you can make any night of the week.

Easy Weeknight-Friendly Turkey Chili

Some homemade chili recipes bubble on the stove for hours, while other shortcut recipes take as little as 20 minutes. This turkey chili recipe, which takes a little under an hour to cook, falls somewhere in between. The turkey is browned in the same Dutch oven you’ll use to make the rest of the stew, and a few shortcuts — like canned tomatoes and canned beans — means it cooks quickly but still has all the tangy satisfaction of longer-cooking chili recipes.

How to Make Any Chili Kid-Friendly

Turkey makes this specific chili recipe more mild, but there are two ways to make any chili more mild (but still flavorful!) for kids with more sensitive palates.

  • Use less spice. Obvious, right? Start with just one teaspoon of your favorite chili seasoning. You can add pickled jalapeños or hot sauce on grown-up servings, and over time you can increase the spices to meet your kiddo’s growing tastes.
  • Don’t bloom the chili seasoning. Although you’ll often see chili recipes call for cooking the chili seasoning or dried spices in a little fat before cooking the meat (or along with it), skip this step for a milder chili and instead add the spices with the tomatoes.

Serving and Storing Turkey Chili

After simmering the chili on the stovetop, take a taste and feel free to add another 1/2 cup of broth or beer to make sure the stew is the right consistency — the turkey absorbs more liquid than beef.

Serve the chili with sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and shredded cheese or your favorite crumbled cheese crackers — my favorite quick weeknight topping that keeps the cheese grater clean.

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Turkey Chili

Looking for an easy weeknight chili that the whole family will love? This turkey chili is it.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 2 pounds

    ground turkey

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1

    large yellow onion, diced

  • 1

    large red bell pepper, diced

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans

    red kidney beans, drained

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 1 (6-ounce) can

    tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon

    chili seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth, beer, or water

Topping options:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese

  • Cheddar cheese crackers

  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt

  • Chopped scallions


  • Chef's knife and cutting board

  • Dutch oven

  • Can opener

  • Measuring cups and spoons


  1. Brown the ground turkey. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the turkey and use a spatula to break it up into large pieces. Season with the salt and cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Break the meat up into smaller pieces with the spatula and continue to cook until the beef is evenly browned with no visible pink, 2 to 3 minutes more.

  2. Add the vegetables and aromatics. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until the onions have softened and are starting to become translucent, 7 to 8 minutes.

  3. Add the cooking liquid and spices and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the drained beans, tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, chili seasoning, oregano, cumin, and 1 1/2 cups of the broth or cooking liquid and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the tomatoes and beans are tender and the chili is thickened, about 30 minutes.

  4. Taste and adjust the liquid and seasoning as needed. After simmering, the turkey may have absorbed most of the cooking liquid. If needed, add up to 1/2 cup more broth or beer until chili reaches desired consistency. Taste and add more chili seasoning or salt if desired.

  5. Serve with toppings. Serve bowls of chili with desired toppings. For kids, cheese crackers are the perfect crunchy, cheesy topping that they love.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.