Cincinnati Chili

Made famous by Skyline Chili in Ohio, Cincinnati Chili is full of secret ingredients and served on spaghetti with lots of toppings, depending on which “way” you like it.


Recipe ingredients


  • Unsweetened chocolate: Just one ounce is all you need, but the super fans swear it makes all the differences.
  • Ground beef: You won’t have a chance to drain the fat from the beef in this recipe. I think 85/15 is ideal for maximum flavor without too much grease, but you can choose something leaner if you want to.
  • Toppings: Build your bowl with spaghetti, chili, and cheese, then top it off with onions, kidney beans, or even oyster crackers if you want to. Here’s the official guide to the “ways” Skyline serves their chili:
    • 2-Way: Spaghetti, Chili
    • 3-Way: Spaghetti, Chili, Cheddar Cheese
    • 4-Way: Spaghetti, Chili, Cheddar Cheese, Onions OR Beans
    • 5-Way aka “the works”: Spaghetti, Chili, Cheddar Cheese, Onions AND Beans

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Cook onions until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in chocolate, garlic, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, tomato sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Stir in beef and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper).
  4. Serve over cooked spaghetti with desired toppings such as cheese, beans, onions, and crackers.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 10 generous servings of Cincinnati Chili.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: Cool and portion into freezer-safe containers, label and date. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Slow cooker: Sauté the onions in olive oil over medium-high heat until softened. Add the garlic and oregano, chili powder, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. Add to a slow cooker with the chicken broth, tomato sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire, salt and pepper, and beef. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Coney Dog: If you’re thinking a hot dog smothered with chili might be just the thing, you’re not alone. Eat it in the bun, or topped with cheese, mustard, onion, beans, you name it.

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