Cincinnati "Skyline" Chili

Cincinnati Skyline Chili
The Spruce
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 4 hrs
Chill: 8 hrs
Total: 12 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
438 Calories
19g Fat
21g Carbs
47g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 438
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 135mg 45%
Sodium 916mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Protein 47g
Calcium 120mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This famous chili recipe was created by Nicholas Lambrinides, a Greek immigrant who founded a popular chain of chili restaurants, in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1949. The inventor's Greek roots can clearly be seen in the unique blend of spices. As you'll see, this chili is quite different from the more common southwest-style chili you're probably used to. Cincinnati chili not only has unusual ingredients in it—like cocoa, cloves, and cinnamon—it also does not have kidney beans or beans of any kind.

Cincinnati chili, also known as Skyline Chili, is thinner in consistency than other versions of chili and popular as a sauce over hotdogs too. The secrets to this recipe are the long slow cooking as well as the overnight refrigeration, which allows for all the excess fat to be removed.

This unusual chili is typically served over spaghetti noodles, some prefer to add cheese on top, and of course, make sure to grab some oyster crackers to go along with it. We've also included the five ways to order this wonderfully different chili in a restaurant.


  • 1-quart water (cold)
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups crushed tomato
  • 2 yellow onions (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Optional: cooked spaghetti pasta to serve the chili over
  • Serving suggestion: oyster crackers on the side

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Cincinnati Skyline chili ingredients

    The Spruce

  2. Add water and beef to a 4-quart pot.

    Ground beef and water in a 4 quart pot
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  3. Bring to a simmer, while stirring, until the ground beef is in very small pieces.

    Ground beef and water simmering in pot
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  4. Simmer for 30 minutes and add all the rest of the ingredients—crushed tomato, onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, cocoa, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, vinegar, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, and salt.

    add remaining ingredients for Cincinnati Skyline chili in pot
    The Spruce
  5. Simmer uncovered on low for 3 hours.

    Cincinnati Skyline chili simmering in pot
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  6. Add water as needed if the chili becomes too thick.

    Adding water to simmering chili if needed
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  7. Refrigerated the chili overnight; the next day, remove the layer of fat from the top before reheating and serving.

    refrigerated Cincinnati Skyline chili overnight
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  8. Serve as detailed below and enjoy!

The Cincinnati "Skyline" Chili Ordering Suggestions

These are just a few of the ways to order this delicious chili. All are served with oyster crackers.

  • Just the chili
  • Chili served over spaghetti noodles
  • Chili, spaghetti, and grated ​cheddar cheese​
  • Chili, spaghetti, cheese, and onions
  • Chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans

How To Store and Freeze

Cincinnati "Skyline" Chili leftovers will last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Freeze the chili in freezer bags for later use just make sure to use it within 4 to 6 months.

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