Cincinnati Chili

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Skyline Copycat CINCINNATI CHILI!! via chelseasmessyapron.com

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BUSH’S Beans. The opinions and text are all mine.

Cincinnati Chili is a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce used as a topping for spaghetti or hot dogs. Served with cheese, oyster crackers, and chopped raw onions!

Cincinnati chili is a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce used as a topping for spaghetti or hot dogs. Served with cheese, oyster crackers, and chopped raw onions! chelseasmessyapron.com

The first time I tried Cincinnati Chili was about four years ago when we lived in Ohio. I’ll be honest, the first time I tried it there was definitely some flavor shock and I wasn’t sure I liked it.

It’s not your typical beef/chili pepper based chili. That said, by the end of our meal it had grown on me and a few weeks later I found myself craving it again. If you glance at the ingredients you’ll see what I mean — there is cinnamon, allspice, and even cocoa powder in this chili!

So, what exactly is Cincinnati Chili?

It’s a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce that you pile on top of hot dogs or cooked spaghetti. Apparently this spiced meat sauce originates from Macedonian immigrants that brought it over in the 1920s and it has evolved to be quite the famous hot dog and spaghetti topping.

The spices are strange if you are thinking of this as a typical chili, but as a Mediterranean meat topping, they work so well. And the cocoa powder? Well, that just deepens and intensifies the flavor!

Cincinnati Chili is a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce used as a topping for spaghetti or hot dogs. Served with cheese, oyster crackers, and chopped raw onions! chelseasmessyapron.com

When you order Cincinnati Chili at the famous Skyline restaurant, you order it one of a few ways:

  • The 3-Way: spaghetti with the chili meat sauce and tons of shredded cheddar cheese
  • The 4-Way: spaghetti with the chili meat sauce and tons of shredded cheddar cheese and then add onions OR beans
  • The 5-Way: spaghetti with the chili meat sauce and tons of shredded cheddar cheese and then add onions AND beans

But in recreating this chili at home, there is no other way to do it than with beans. The beans in this chili are an absolute must have!

The traditional bean addition for Cincinnati Chili is plain kidney beans, but I love adding chili beans to this dish. Chili Beans are simply kidney beans in a delicious mild chili sauce and no one does those better than BUSH’S Beans. They take firm and delicious dark red kidney beans and slow simmer those beans in a hearty chili sauce that’s been seasoned with tomatoes, chili peppers, and cumin. These beans taste like they’ve been cooking all day, but they are as easy as opening a can and dumping them in! As much as I came to love the traditional 5-way Cincinnati Chili, I’m 100% convinced it’s even better with BUSH’S Chili Beans mixed in.

Which leaves the final toppings to be a whole ton of cheddar cheese (you’ve got to do freshly grated!) and a diced raw white onion. I also love some oyster crackers crumbled over top.

And another thing to try if you’re making this Cincinnati Chili: try eating it like a sort of lasagna. Instead of mixing it all together, place it on a plate in this order: spaghetti on bottom, the meat sauce in the middle, and a whole bunch of cold cheddar cheese on top (plus onions and crumbled oyster crackers if you want). Take a knife and fork and eat it as if you were eating lasagna. It sounds weird, but if you’re feeling adventurous you’ve got to try it this way! You’ve got the warm spaghetti and meat sauce that meld together perfectly and then the cool cheddar cheese hitting the roof of your mouth. It’s a whole new experience eating “chili” and one you’ll be craving year round 🙂

 

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Cincinnati Chili

4.67 from 3 votes
Cincinnati Chili is a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce used as a topping for spaghetti or hot dogs. Served with cheese, oyster crackers, and chopped raw onions!
Print Recipe

Cincinnati Chili

4.67 from 3 votes
Cincinnati Chili is a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce used as a topping for spaghetti or hot dogs. Served with cheese, oyster crackers, and chopped raw onions!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 559kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons ground chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon EACH: ground allspice, ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • 8 ounces sharp or mild cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 1 can (15 ounces) BUSH'S Chili Beans, undrained
  • To top with: another onion (finely diced), oyster crackers

Instructions

  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to a pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium high heat. Add in the diced onion and cook until tender. Add in the beef and lightly brown, crumbling as you cook it. Add in the garlic.
  • Add in the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder, and bay leaf.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and undrained chili beans. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for one hour or until completely thickened (see video). When ready to serve, skim off the fat and remove the bay leaf. 
  • Serve over cooked spaghetti topped with cheese, another diced onion, and oyster crackers.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 559kcal

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I really enjoy preparing your recipes for me and my husband. The recipes are ones I have never made.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. 5 stars
    This looks almost identical to a recipe I made years ago and have since lost (minus the Bush’s beans which sound great! Cant wait to try it! Do you think
    It will freeze well?

    1. I hope you love it Cindy! I haven’t personally frozen it, but I think it would do well being frozen and then thawed in the fridge!

  3. 4 stars
    I am a traditionalist when it comes to my chili so I warned my husband that it is not like my chili at all. The flavor is something that grows on you. He liked it just fine but prefers my regular chili. I can’t imagine simmering it for an hour though. It was thick already at 20 min on medium low and I had to take it off the burner while I cooked the pasta. All in all, I’d make it again but not for a while. Give it a try!

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