Black Bean Turkey Chili

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

It’s January! Meaning as pretty as it may look on a sunny winter day here in Northern California, as soon as I step outside I want to turn around and head back in, where it is still toasty warm. Days like these are perfect for cooking a big pot of chili beans, don’t you think?

The basis for this turkey chili recipe comes from my friend Kelsey’s mom Janeen. It’s one of their family favorites. It uses naturally lean ground turkey, plenty of black beans, onions, carrots, and red bell peppers, and can be made in one big pot. I’ve dressed the original up a little with a bit more seasonings. It’s great over rice, or with tortillas, and tastes even better the next day when the flavors have had more time to blend. Enjoy!

Black Bean Turkey Chili Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.

This recipe produces a mildly spicy chili. You can easily add more chili powder or some cayenne to intensify the spice level if you wish. You can also add chipotle chili powder or chipotle Tabasco to give a smoky note to the chili. As for the red bell peppers, Trader Joe's has frozen sliced bell peppers that work well for this dish.


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 carrot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 to 3 red bell peppers, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • Salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I use ground turkey thighs for more flavor)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp cider or white vinegar
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained
  • Freshly ground black pepper


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1 Heat the oil in a large, thick bottomed pot (6 to 8 quart) on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and bell peppers, sprinkle with salt and cook until softened, about 6-8 minutes.

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2 Add the minced garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook for a minute more. Add the ground turkey and break it up with a wooden spoon.  Increase the heat to medium high. Stir and cook until the turkey is no longer pink.

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3 Add the chicken stock, oregano, bay leaf, vinegar, and tomato paste. Use a straight edge spatula or wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the black beans. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook, covered for half an hour, and uncovered for another half hour, or until the the liquid thickens. Remove bay leaf.

Adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice or heated corn tortillas.

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Black Bean Turkey Chili from Simply Recipes

Showing 4 of 39 Comments

  • Gail

    Several people asked if this was hot. I think you have to know your own brand of chili powder. I made this recipe for the first time today. I was using a new brand of chili powder and so I was conservative. I used 2 tsp instead of 2 T and it’s plenty hot. We aren’t wimps when it comes to heat so I would just be cautious and re-season rather than arbitrarily use the full amount. I really like this recipe. It’s different in that it’s not loaded with tomatoes. Thanks!

  • EMarcilla

    Make this at least once a month year-round (more in winter!). I sub a craft beer for two of the 3 cups of the broth, also use 2 lbs. turkey (with 3 teenage boys, we need the protein). Best, yummiest, easiest chile recipe I’ve come across in years. Thank you!

  • Aimee Wiley

    This was great! I used some of our leftover Thanksgiving turkey and chopped it up in my mini food chopper. I added a cup of frozen corn, a little bit of cilantro, and a can of drained diced tomatoes. Also, I increased the amount of cumin (because I love it!) and veggies, and I added two cups of broth (vegetable), to make sure I had enough chili for our family of seven. Everyone liked it, even my picky daughter:) Thank you for providing such simple, healthy recipes for us, Elise!

  • Kenzie

    I love this recipe! I’ve made it at least 5 times now and the past couple I’ve followed the directions, but also added cayenne pepper (my husband and I love spicy), as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. Perfect for fall! :)

  • Sam B

    This is great with Worcester sauce!

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