|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 28g||35%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||50%|
|Total Carbohydrate 14g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||16%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 10mg||52%|
|*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.|
Most people outside of Cincinnati haven't had the chance to try this amazing chili unless someone in their household has attempted to recreate the beloved local recipe. The sound of meaty chili on top of spaghetti covered in generous amounts of cheese and possibly onions with oyster crackers on the side sounds like an odd combination. But don't say no until you've actually tried it. Our take on this recipe gives you the closest thing to the true recipe. It's up to you how you want to eat it, whether over a hot dog or cooked spaghetti.
This famous no-bean chili recipe was created by Nicholas Lambrinides, a Greek immigrant who founded a popular chain of chili restaurants called Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1949. The inventor's Greek roots can clearly be seen in the unique blend of spices, although we will never know for sure what the delicious secret blend is because the original recipe has been in a protected vault since Lambrinides' death. What we do know is that unsweetened cocoa and cinnamon are key to the deep flavor of this meaty concoction.
Our recipe for Cincinnati chili only makes the meat sauce—it's up to you how you want to serve it. It's thinner in consistency than other versions of chili and is popular as a sauce over hot dogs too. A few big pluses: The long, slow cook and overnight refrigeration allows for all excess fat to be removed, and this recipe freezes beautifully and can be kept in the fridge for a few days.
“Cincinnati Skyline Chili is the best. The savory, almost sweet taste of this hearty meat chili served over spaghetti with shredded cheese is something everyone should try at least once. The ultimate comfort food.” —Joan Velush
1 quart water, more as needed
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Add the water and beef to a 4-quart heavy-duty pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer while stirring over medium-high heat until the ground beef is in very small pieces. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add tomatoes, onions, garlic, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, chili powder, cocoa powder, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Simmer on low, uncovered, for 3 hours.
Stir occasionally to avoid ingredients sticking to the bottom or sides of the pot. Add water as needed if the chili becomes too thick. Once the cooking time has passed, remove from heat and allow the chili to cool off, covered, to room temperature.
Once cool, keep covered and refrigerate the chili overnight. The next day, remove the layer of fat that has formed on top before reheating and serving over pasta or hot dogs.
How to Serve Cincinnati Skyline Chili
There are a few ways in which you can eat your chili. All are served with oyster crackers on the side:
- Two-Way: Unseasoned cooked spaghetti with chili on top.
- Three-Way: Unseasoned cooked spaghetti with chili and lots of shredded cheddar cheese on top.
- Four-Way: Unseasoned cooked spaghetti, chili, lots of shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped onions or kidney beans.
- Five-Way: Unseasoned cooked spaghetti, chili, lots of shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions, and kidney beans.
Although not common, you can eat just the chili with a side of oyster crackers. For hot dog lovers, you can add any of the topping configurations above. Mustard is a must if you're having a hot dog, but there is no wrong way to eat this flavorful chili.
How to Store and Freeze
- In an airtight container in the refrigerator, Cincinnati chili leftovers will last for up to three days.
- If freezing, the chili should be portioned out into individual bags or containers and used within three months. Defrost in the fridge before reheating.