Cincinnati Chili…a delicious ground beef chili with a unique spice mix, served over spaghetti and topped with cheese. This is a big family fave in our house!
The first time I had Cincinnati Chili was after one of my pregnancies when a friend brought it over for us for dinner. Served over pasta and with a unique spice mix, it was different from any other chili I had ever had.
My husband and I enjoyed it so much that I asked my friend for the recipe. At first she said no, it was a secret, and then she broke down and gave it to me. Her secret ingredient was pumpkin pie spice.
I saved the recipe on one of our computers and used it for many years until one of my boys took it apart for parts without checking with us first. I lost a lot of my favorite recipes with that computer. Lesson learned…back up everything. You never know when your computer is going to crash or one of your kids is going to do a little tinkering.
So over the years, I’ve been making Cincinnati Chili part from memory and part from other recipes. In case you’re wondering, I don’t usually use the pumpkin pie spice from my friend’s recipe in mine because I already use some of the spices that are in pumpkin pie spice.
If you’ve never had Cincinnati Chili before, the spice mix combination might throw you for a loop. But in my opinion, you’re missing out if you don’t try it!
My kids love this recipe, and it’s frequently on the menu at our house. If I ask the kids if they want chili for dinner, oftentimes one of them will ask if I can make the one with the spaghetti.
So you might be wondering, how did Cincinnati Chili get its name? The recipe was first created in the greater Cincinnati area by Greek-Macedonian immigrants and restaurateurs. This Mediterranean spiced ground beef dish is served with toppings, that are known as “ways.”
- Two way: spaghetti topped with chili
- Three way: spaghetti, chili and cheese
- Four way: spaghetti, chili, cheese and either onions or beans
- Five way: spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans
Now I’ve never been to any of the “authentic” restaurants that originally created this dish, so be aware my version is simply a version that my family likes. My family likes the beans mixed in with the chili itself, rather than as a separate topping, so that is how I make it. We never use onions as a topping. We also sometimes top it with sour cream, which is definitely NOT authentic, but we like it. Feel free to enjoy it however you like! It’s food…it’s meant to be enjoyed!
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Add the broth to a Dutch oven or pot and add the ground beef, crumbling into small pieces as you add it to the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight. The fat will solidify overnight, allowing you to remove it easily. If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to wait, there are some good suggestions for skimming fat in this article that you may find helpful. But if you do have time to refrigerate overnight, you’ll find that the fat is really easy to remove this way!
Now you’re ready to start making your Cincinnati Chili. Start by heating the meat and broth mixture over low heat. If your meat is too chunky for you, feel free to use a hand blender to break it into finer pieces. Don’t overdo it though. I’ve made it both ways. My family doesn’t really have a preference.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the chopped onions and cook for a few minutes, until the onions start to turn translucent. Then add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves, cayenne, bay leaf, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, and heat until the mixture starts to bubble.
Add the tomato spice mixture to the meat mixture, along with apple cider vinegar and chocolate. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about an hour.
A few minutes before you take the chili off the heat, stir in small red beans.
While the chili is cooking, towards the end of the cooking process, cook the spaghetti according to package directions and grate the cheese.
Spoon chili over spaghetti, top with shredded cheddar cheese (and chopped onions if you’d like). Dinner is served!
MORE CHILI RECIPES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
Now let’s get cooking!
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 cups white onion, chopped (1 large white onion)
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (2 large cloves)
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 8 oz sharp cheddar
- 2 15.2 oz cans small red beans, drained and rinsed
- Add your broth to a Dutch oven and add the ground beef, crumbling into small pieces as you add it to the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer for a 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove from refrigerator. The fat will have solidified. Remove as much fat as possible.
- Start heating meat and broth mixture over low heat. Use a hand blender to break the meat into finer pieces.
- Heat oil in pan. Add onions and cook for a few minutes, until onions start to turn translucent.
- Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves, cayenne, bay leaf, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, and heat until mixture starts to bubble.
- Add tomato spice mixture to the meat mixture, along with apple cider vinegar and chocolate. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about an hour.
- A few minutes before you take the chili off the heat, stir in small red beans.
- Spoon chili over spaghetti, top with shredded cheddar cheese.
- Just before chili is finished, cook spaghetti and grate cheese.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 203Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 122mgCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 12g
Friday 23rd of August 2019
We .make ours without chocolate. We make it a day before we serve, always tastes better the second day. Hubby was from Cincinnati and recipe is as close as you can get it. Hard Times sell packets around here, VA.
Sunday 14th of July 2019
Stumbled across this recipe and I’m going to try it this week. My New Years resolution was to try 52 new recipes. This will be 62.
Sunday 11th of June 2017
The chili is so great and tastes middle eastern. But you can never find it in a restaurant in California.
Sunday 11th of June 2017
I've never seen it at a restaurant in the Northeast either, but it's easy to make and it's a dish my family really enjoys!
Little Cooking Tips
Thursday 8th of June 2017
It seems that some of our countrymen really did wonders in the States lol :) We never heard of the Cincinnati Chili before (only the Cincinnati Kid with McQueen lol) but it sure is a recipe we'll be trying out VERY soon and we bet it'll become an instant favorite:) We honestly can't way to cook this Michelle! M-m-mmm! THANK YOU for the awesome recipe dear! xoxoxo
Tuesday 30th of May 2017
We love Cincinnati Chili! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday! Hope you are having a great week and come back to see us real soon. Miz Helen