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Susan’s Cincinnati-Style Chili

Cincinnati-Style Chili is served over spaghetti and topped with grated cheese (Susan Mintert/Indiana Home Cooks)

Chili is a favorite dish that can take many forms, and it’s perfect for a family supper or to feed a crowd on a wintery day.

This Cincinnati-Style Chili utilizes some unique seasonings and is served with spaghetti and cheese.

You may have tried the fast food version, but with this recipe, you don’t have to venture out into the cold for this comforting and warming dish. It’s perfect for a snow day at home.

Make it vegetarian by skipping the meat and adding extra beans at the end.

For the whole story on this Cincinnati-Style Chili, go to

Susan’s Cincinnati-Style Chili

Yield: 8-10 servings


  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 T canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp dried ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T vinegar, any kind
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili pepper, if more heat is desired
  • Cooked spaghetti
  • 1 to 2 14-oz cans red beans or chili beans, rinsed and drained
  • Shredded cheese (Colby, Colby-jack, pepper jack, cheddar, any of those)
  • Diced sweet (raw) onion, optional


  1. Measure all dry spices and set aside.
  2. In a large pot or dutch oven, brown ground beef, then remove from pot, drain, and set aside. Into pot (med to med-low heat), pour oil, then add chopped onions.
  3. Sauté for about a minute, then put in all the pre-measured dried spices.
  4. Stir into the onions and cook another minute. You should begin to smell the fragrance of the spices.
  5. Return the ground beef to the pot, then add garlic, salt, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and one cup water.
  6. Turn up heat to medium or medium-high, and allow mixture to come up to a boil.
  7. Stir and scrape up any bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pot. Add the tomato sauce, chocolate, bay leaf and 2 more cups of water. (Go ahead and add the dried chili powder if desired, or add later if you feel chili needs more heat. Or serve it at the table and let everyone decide for themselves!) Also, you can add the beans right to the pot at this point, or reserve and heat them up later to serve with the chili.
  8. The chili at this point is very watery. That’s ok, it will cook down. Allow pot to come back up to boil, then turn down heat to low and let it simmer 2-3 hours, with the lid on, but slightly vented.
  9. Stir occasionally making sure chili is not sticking or burning on the bottom.
  10. If it cooks down and seems too thick, add more water.
  11. Serve over cooked spaghetti, topped with beans (if serving separately), cheese, and onions if desired.
  12. Susan Mintert--Indiana Home Cooks, 2019

Susan Mintert

Susan Mintert is a wife, mom, and home cook in West Lafayette, Indiana. She shares her love of food and the people who make it on the Indiana Home Cooks Podcast. She believes the tradition, culture, celebration, fellowship, memory, and love of food make it central to our lives beyond simply feeding our stomachs.

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