Black Bean Turkey Chili

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.

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


  • 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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  • Rocky Mountain Woman

    I love black bean chili! This looks like an especially tasty version…

    • Edith Ester

      I make a very similar version. I do add a little chipotle because we like some zip–but not a lot of heat. I use oregano and cumin but not the bay leaf.

      I turn it into what we call a skillet enchilada by cutting about eight corn tortillas into bite sized pieces and folding them in a few minutes before I serve the dish. I garnish each serving with shredded longhorn cheese and sliced pimento stuffed olives. I serve it with a salad.

      Thank you so much for publishing this recipe. Now I have something to hand to a couple of friends who have asked for the recipe. I could tell them how I make this but not how much of each ingredient.

  • Lee

    Sounds great! – and a wonderful way to use up bits of leftover veggies in the fridge. I don’t have ground turkey in house, so would have to use lean ground beef… or possibly some leftover shredded chicken? Hmmm…

  • Dara

    This chili is fantastic… thank you! Made it this afternoon for tonight’s dinner and my house smells delicious. I can’t eat tomato paste so I left it out, but I didn’t miss having it… the peppers add the color and the beans add the creaminess the paste would have provided.

  • Mike

    OK. If we’re going to cook uncovered for half an hour to thicken the liquid, why are we rinsing the beans? Or should I already know that?

    • Elise

      One rinses canned beans to remove any of the tinny flavor that may be there in the liquid from the can. You don’t have to though, if you don’t want to.

  • Gerry @ Foodness Gracious

    I’m in So Cal and I know what you mean, today it’s sunny…and windy and freezing! A great day for a meal like this chili!

  • Michael

    Looking forward to making this over the weekend! Just trying to plan… roughly how many servings would you say this serves?

  • florence friedman

    I make chili sometimes with canned corn and tomato sauce .
    Equally delicious.

  • Isra {TheFrugalette}

    I pretty much need to eat some form of chili at least once a week. Its so cold here its the only thing that gives me cozy comfort!

  • Kat S

    I love this chili… the only thing I changed was the chicken stock to vegetable stock. simply because I only had it on hand! Wonderful

  • shaz

    This sounds delicious & was wondering if it could be done in a crockpot? Would I have to cook the turkey first?

  • Melissa Aaron

    Great recipe. I subbed out Mexican oregano, cumin, a little cayenne, chipotle, and ancho for the chili powder, and upped the garlic, but otherwise stayedtrue. It’s a great one to put on in the afternoon & reheat later.

  • Mary

    Delicious! I cooked a batch of black beans the day before, then made the chili with lean ground beef (didn’t have ground turkey). Served with chili cornbread – yum! Thanks for another fabulous recipe, Elise.

  • Marianne

    I made this for lunch yesterday and it was delicious. I don’t care for bell peppers, so I used canned diced tomatoes instead and used less tomato paste.

  • Carla

    I just did this and it turned out great the only different thing I did was to blend the onions, peppers and carrot because my kids are picky eaters but they devoured this, thanks again for an amazing recipe.

  • Denise

    Ahh, it has been awhile since I have grazed over at your neck of the internet. Some tasty dishes to be shared! I am not sure what I want to try first … salmon mousse or this chili. Have been hunkering for a big bowl of chili.

    Happy New Year!!

  • Joyce

    I made this in a crock pot; put everything in at once, (cooked the ground turkey first) and it was yummy. It was a bit soupy since the liquid didn’t evaporate away with the lid on, so I used more tomato paste (I like it tomatoey anyway) and it was perfect for me. Cooked it for five hours on high, then kept it at warm until dinner.

  • Sarah

    Is this very spicy? I have small children and I was seeing if they would enjoy this also.

    • Elise

      In my opinion it’s quite mild. If someone wants it spicy, they’ll have to increase the chili powder.

  • RD

    I made this last Sunday night for dinner. It is a quick, easy, and healthy chili recipe. Perfect for the unseasonably cold weather we have been having here in Northern California. As mentioned in another post this recipe is pretty mild so I will spice it up next time with more chipotles in adobo sauce, cayenne or chipotle powder.

    I served it with salad and the Cheese Biscuits recipe from this site, substituting sharp Cheddar for the Parmesan cheese (the Cheddar and Jalapeno Biscuits, which are very good too, would also go well with the chili).

  • Ashley

    This recipe reminds me of one of my favorite recipes of my childhood, from my sweet belated mother–her black bean turkey chili.

    I actually ate this type of chili before I ate any other type!

    Her version came from California Sizzles (she wrote the captions for the recipes, and this is a big reason I love your site–your introductory comments remind me of her).

    Thanks for sharing both family and food with all of us internet folks. It means something. Especially on a day like today, when we all come together.

    Happy MLK Jr Day,

    • katie a

      I love my well used copy of California Sizzles (go Jr. League of Pasadena!). That recipe has an interesting and tasty variation – 1/3 of the ground turkey is actually sweet Italian turkey sausage.
      Thanks Elise for this recipe – I have two beautiful red peppers to use up this afternoon.

      • Ashley

        Yes! Someone knows what I’m talking about! You made my day!

        And to Elise–I work at a community health clinic, and I like to bring items for everyone to munch on. A few of the employees have some troubles with gluten, so your almond lemon cake is in the oven now! I imagine there will be smiles tomorrow!

  • Elissa

    thanks for the recipe, i added sriracha to this (like most things really) and it turned out delicious. perfect for freezing and bringing to work for healthy lunches – i eat mine over a bit of quinoa – yum

  • Caria

    Great recipe. It needed a bit more heat to my taste buds. Will add cayenne next time I prepare it.

  • Kurt Jacobson

    Good work posting a healthy recipe like this one. Have you ever tried sauteeing in water instead of oil for recipes like this? I learned the technique back around 1992 on some tv cooking show and scoffed at the idea. Then later on in my cooking career I tried it and found it works great in many, but not all, of the foods I cooked professionally and at home calling for sauteeing. In a country of many overwieght people this is a good technique to know.

  • Cicely

    So delicious. I couldn’t stay from eating it while cooking. Great recipe and very simple.

  • PaulaS

    Great recipe. I subbed ground pork for the turkey, and added a cup of frozen corn kernels. This is so good my older son, who likes things really HOT, declared, “This is really tasty!” He asked for the recipe, so I sent him the link to this one. Great!

  • Pamela

    My daughter made this for my husband and I. She added zucchini finely chopped and extra hot sauce. Fantastic and easy. East to make vegan through substituting tofu. This is simple enough for her to make at school as well.

  • Pamela

    Fantastic. My daughter surprised us by making dinner and added chopped zucchini for more veggies. It would be great with tofu for vegans and easy enough for a college student or working mom. Thanks!!

  • Gloria M.

    Absolutely love (LOVE!) this recipe! It changed my husband’s opinion about ground turkey versus ground beef, and converted me entirely from tomato-based beef chilis. This recipe is so light, flavorful, filling, and healthy that it has become a go-to in many categories: weeknight, weekend, make-ahead, pack for lunch, good for leftovers, budget, healthy, and favorite chili overall. Love love love. Love!

    • Gloria M.

      Oh, and we usually eat ours topped with cheddar and avocado chunks, and tortilla chips on the side for scooping. Delish! :)

  • Haden

    I just wanted to say that this recipe is amazing. I’m a college student and I make this every week, it’s that good. I’ve probably made it 5-6 times now and I’ve personalized it a bit. I take out the carrots/celery/peppers and add tons of asparagus. I also add twice as much ground turkey and black beans. Tastes great with avocado and greek yogurt.
    Thank you!

  • Jill

    This is a great chili recipe! I made a few small alterations according to what I had. You can see my post about it at

  • Cyn Love

    Thank you for this, our new favourite chili recipe! I doubled it and used half red & half black beans. Served with sweet corn muffins, cut in half long ways and crisped up in a frying pan with butter- nom nom nom! It also freezes well.

  • Amie

    I just made this – it smells amazing! Do you have the nutrition facts on it? I am logging calories so I am just curious. THANKS!

  • P. Toye

    I make this chili about once a month. LOVE it. I didn’t want to open an entire can just for 1 T. of tomato paste so I substituted the paste with one can of diced tomatoes and reduced the chicken stock to 1 cup only. Fantastic flavor, texture, and visual appeal. I use whatever kind of beans I have on hand (white, light kidney, pinto, or black). Wonderful way to eat veggies too. Moms: don’t hide the veggies by blending. Let the kids eat the chili, love it, and then tell them they just ate veggies. Let them understand they can enjoy veggies.

  • Sam B

    This is great with Worcester sauce!

  • 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! :)

  • 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!