Cincinnati Chili – This Ohio ballpark classic is surprisingly easy to make at home! Find out the basic recipe, and all the ways you can serve it below!
My dad once got tickets to a Cincinnati Reds game through work and he took my younger sister, brother, and I to the game. We had a box all to ourselves. My dad ordered Cincinnati Skyline chili dogs for us. They were incredible. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the baseball game, but I remember how much FUN we had up there together in a private box eating chili dogs at a major league baseball game with my dad.
What Makes Cincinnati Chili Unique (and Delicious!):
What makes Cincinnati chili different from other chili is the spice blend. Traditionally, Cincinnati chili doesn’t have cumin (practically a staple in most chili recipes), isn’t particularly spicy, and contains a few peculiar secret ingredients.
Are you ready for this? Cocoa powder and cinnamon.
Sounds a little bit crazy, right? Well, don’t write it off until you’ve had a chance to taste it. It doesn’t taste chocolatey or cinnamon-y, rather it just has a little sweetness that I find perfect.
Cincinnati Chili – Two-Way, Three-Way, Four-Way, Five-Way
When it’s not being spooned over a ballpark hot dog, Cincinnati chili is often served with spaghetti (another seemingly strange tradition, until you give it a try). The way you eat it is designated in one of these dishes:
- As a hot dog topper
- Cincinnati Two-way: chili over spaghetti
- Cincinnati Three-way: chili over spaghetti with shredded cheese
- Cincinnati Four-way: chili over spaghetti with cheese and either kidney beans or diced onion
- Cincinnati Five-way: chili over spaghetti with cheese, kidney beans, AND diced onion
We chose to picture the whole she-bang. I put my own twist on the chili, adding the beans INTO the chili mixture, rather than serving them as a garnish, but you can totally leave them out if you want to be more authentic.
I just LOVED it! If you’re looking for a way to change up your chili night, give this one a go. It’s delicious! It freezes well and can be eaten plain, over pasta, or to make your own chili dogs.
Craving More Chili? You Might Like…
- Instant Pot (or Slow Cooker) Black Bean Chipotle Chili
- The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili
- 3/4lb ground beef (I used extra lean)
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
- 1c chicken broth*
- 1c water
- 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 (15oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste
- To serve: extra diced onion, shredded cheese, and cooked spaghetti or hot dogs and buns
- In a large pot, cook ground beef and onions in a small drizzle of olive oil and cook over medium heat until beef is cooked through and onions are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain any fat.
- Add garlic, and cook 1-2 minutes more, or until fragrant. Add chili powder, cocoa powder, brown sugar, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, and cayenne. Stir to coat beef/onion mixture. Add tomato sauce, broth, water, vinegar, and beans. Stir to combine (mixture will look rather watery).
- Bring chili to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30-40 minutes, or until thickened and deeper in color.
- Serve over spaghetti or hot dogs with diced onion and cheese as desired.
*Gluten and Dairy Free Notes: Just be sure your broth is gluten free. I like Pacific Naturals brand.
Cincinnati two-way: chili over spaghetti
Cincinnati three-way: chili over spaghetti with shredded cheese
Cincinnati four-way: chili over spaghetti with cheese and either kidney beans or diced onion
Cincinnati five-way: chili over spaghetti with cheese, kidney beans, AND diced onion