Cincinnati Chili

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Cincinnati Chili is a unique recipe that is a delicious option for a fun new dinner. If you haven’t had it before, it’s nothing like the traditional chili you’re used to, instead of Mexican flavors, this chili is less tangy and richer.

cincinnati chili on top of cooked spaghetti with beans and cheese

Quick and Easy Crockpot Meal

The best part about this chili recipe is that it can be made in your slow cooker. The only prep needed is the browning of your ground beef and dicing the onions. Of course, you’ll have to cook your spaghetti, but that’s not hard. Then, you can essentially dump all of the ingredients right into the pot and let them cook down. The smell that this dish leaves in your kitchen is mouth watering.

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Copycat Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili is a restaurant chain founded by a Greek man by the name of Nicholas Lambrinides. He opened the doors of his first restaurant in 1949 and came up with the name “Skyline” because of the view of the Cincinnati skyline that he had from his business.

This chain is a Cincinnati-style chili chain of restaurants whose name comes from – you guessed it – Cincinnati, Ohio. Their menu contains their cheese coneys and many “ways” of Spaghetti. There are now over 160 locations, and some even have drive-thru service.

chili on top of hot dogs with onions and cheese

What is Cincinnati Chili?

Cincinnati Chili is most commonly compared to a meat sauce that has roots in Mediterranean cuisine. It’s thinner than traditional chili and uses different spices like cinnamon and allspice. You also do not add your beans to the chili. They are used as a topping when you serve. It most popularly tops a plate of spaghetti, but some people put it on hotdogs, too. It’s become a staple of the midwestern United States.

ingredients to make cincinnati chili

Ingredients Needed to Make This Cincinnati Chili Recipe

This is not your average chili recipe. It is made similarly to how it is made in the midwest. It’s perfect to top almost anything where you would use chili.

  • Ground beef – Browned and drained. Ground turkey will also word well in this recipe.
  • Onion – Finely diced.
  • Tomato sauce
  • Unsweetened baking chocolate – This is a unique addition, but it adds depth of flavor.
  • Seasonings: Chili powder, cinnamon, garlic powder, cumin, allspice, ground cloves, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt.
  • Sugar – just a small amount.
  • Vinegar

How to Make Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Luckily, there aren’t a lot of steps involved with this Cincinnati Chili recipe. Once all of your ingredients are in your crockpot, all you have to do is wait for the magic! After just a few hours, you’ll have a delicious dinner.

  • Add Your Ingredients. After you have browned and drained your ground beef, add it to your pot. Then top it with the diced onion, water, tomato, sauce, chocolate, chili powder, cinnamon, garlic powder, cumin, allspice, cloves, red pepper, black pepper, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Stir thoroughly.
  • Cook. Cook your chili on high for 2-4 hours or low for 4-6 hours.
  • Serve. Enjoy over top of spaghetti or hotdogs. And if you like, add some of these Olive Garden Breadsticks, they are delicious!
chili on top of cooked spaghetti with beans, onions and cheese on white plate

Tips and Serving Suggestions

  • Chocolate. Some classic recipes for Cincinnati Chili do not use chocolate so you can leave it out if you prefer.
  • Consistency. If you feel like the chili is a little too thick, add a splash of water to thin it out. If it’s too thin, make a slurry of corn starch and water, and then stir it into the chili.
  • Toppings. Cheese, onions, and beans are the most popular toppings. Some people also like to add mustard if they are enjoying it on a hotdog.

Here are the “ways” to enjoy your Cincinnati Chili.

  • 2-way – Spaghetti and chili
  • 3-way – Spaghetti, chili, and cheese
  • 4-way – Spaghetti, chili, cheese, and onions OR beans
  • 5-way – Spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, AND beans
chili on top of spaghetti noodles with beans, onions and cheese on white plate

How to Store Leftovers

You can store the leftover chili in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. To freeze, add the chili to a gallon-size zip-top freezer bag. It will last up to 3 months.

More Chili Recipes

chili with spaghetti, beans, onions and cheese on a white plate
Cincinnati Chili feature
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Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

This Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili is so delicious! A copycat for that famous Skyline Chili. This chili is fabulous served over spaghetti noodles piled high with shredded cheese and makes an amazing hot dog chili. This chili has a few surprising ingredients that give it that signature flavor.
Servings: 6
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 10 minutes


  • 2 pounds ground beef browned and drained
  • 1 half small onion finely diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • Shredded cheddar cheese for topping
  • Red kidney beans for topping
  • Diced white onion for topping
  • Cooked spaghetti


  • To your slow cooker add the browned beef, onion, water, tomato sauce, chocolate, chili powder, cinnamon, garlic powder, cumin, allspice, ground cloves, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, sugar and vinegar.
  • Stir it all together and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high 2-4 hours.
  • Serve over hot dogs, or spaghetti noodles.

Last Step:

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  • You can serve this a number of ways, just on the noodles, topped with kidney beans, topped with onions, topped with cheese. Any combination of those is equally delicious.
  • Depending on your slow cooker this can either get thick or thin, so if it gets too thick just add a splash of water. If you want it thicker, add a tablespoon of cornstarch to ¼ cup cold water and add that until you get your desired thickness.
  • Store this chili in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • This freezes beautifully so place it in an freezer gallon bag in the freezer so you can have this delicious chili anytime!


Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 560mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2954IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 5mg


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