Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

1 1/2-2 lbs lean ground beef
28 oz can crushed or coarse ground tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

To serve:
1 lb spaghetti
sour cream
chopped raw onions
dark red kidney beans (heated through)
shredded extra sharp cheddar
oyster crackers

In a large skillet saute onion, garlic, ground beef, and chili powder until ground beef is just barely cooked. Take care to break the meat into small bits. Drain off any excess fat. Add to a four quart slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Stir. It might look a little dry but that is okay. Cook for 8-10 hrs. Stir.

Cook spaghetti according to package instructions.

There are several ways to eat Cincinnati style chili:
3-way: Spaghetti topped with chili, covered with shredded cheddar cheese
4-way: Spaghetti topped with chili, cheese, onions
5-way: Spaghetti topped with beans, chili, cheese & onions

Serve the crackers on the side.

My thoughts:

It is cold and snowy (Snow! I didn’t authorize snow!) and I am sorely missing the weather we had on our recent vacation. Luckily I have a recipe for Cincinnati Chili in my cookbook that I really love on a day like this. The ingredients are all things I (and most home cooks) would have on hand, which means no need to run to the store in bad weather but since it is a more unusual style of chili than most people are used to (outside of Ohio, of course) it doesn’t seem like you are eating the same old thing.

This is a slightly different version than the recipe that appears in my book; I added a couple of extra spices and tweaked the proportions a bit to yield a bit more chili. The meat gets amazing tender and really impregnated with flavor since it cooks for so long, which is important in this style of chili. Cincinnati chili shouldn’t be too saucy or on the other hand, too dry and I think the slow cooker makes achieving this balance easy and requires virtually no hands-on time. Ironically, I tend to use my slow cooker when I am doing a lot of other cooking (recipe development gigs, baking) but it is great to sit down to a meal hours after you did the work for it.

The leftovers are great on hot dogs.

Can’t get enough? Make traditional Cincinnati Chili, Cincinnati Chili Mac, and even Cincinnati Chili Dogs and Cincinnati Chili-Inspired Sloppy Joes.


  1. Nice version of Cincy chili. One can also use bison meat in place of the ground beef.

  2. I LOVE Cincy chili!! My family lives there and its ALWAYS a must. I can't wait to try this (and I will be using bison meat as well!!) Thank you for the awesome cold weather recipe!

  3. This sounds great. I love the idea of your cookbook. I have several slow cooker cookbooks, loving the ease of a slow cooker in winter but a bit of flair to the food. Can't wait to try your chili AND your cookbook.

  4. This dish almost starts to have a mole treatment (the Mexican sauce, not the little animal), with the cocoa, spices and chile. This is one to try. Thanks!


  5. I am way to hungry to be looking at this post, the color the texture = great

  6. Great recipe for these cold snowy days!

  7. Feast on the Cheap

    I love this! One monday a month, a local restaurant hosts a "cincinnati" night where they dish up Cinci Chili and ice cream flown in fresh from a famous local confectionary. Will have to try my hand at the at-home version (and save a few $$s)

  8. Great recipe, I made it this past weekend. Was a bit spicier then I would have imagined initially, but after an overnight in the fridge BINGO, felt like I was at Skyline in Cinny… Thanks

  9. I make this chili every few weeks once the weather gets cold and I've shared the recipe with lots of friends who love it too! Thanks!!