Turkey Chili (with Leftover Turkey)

Great for Thanksgiving leftovers! This turkey chili recipe uses shredded turkey meat, kidney beans, onion, garlic, tomatoes and chili.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder (or up to 4 Tbsp if you like it more hot)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (fire roasted if you can get it)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of turkey stock or chicken stock
  • Two 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt, plus more if desired to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups of shredded, cooked turkey meat
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green or red onion, sour cream for optional garnish.


1 In a large, 8-quart, thick-bottom pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the onions and green peppers and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin, and cook, stirring, for a minute or two more. Add a bit more olive oil if needed.

turkey-chili-method-1 turkey-chili-method-2

2 Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, kidney beans, oregano, salt, pepper, and cooked turkey meat. Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for an hour.


3 Salt to taste. Add sugar to taste if needed to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

The chili may be made in advance and chilled for 2 days, or frozen for 2 months.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped red onion, and or sour cream. Serve alone, over rice, or with corn bread.

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  1. JoAnn Brereton

    I could make this in a crockpot, right? I’m thinking that once step #1 is done, just add the rest to the crockpot, cover, and let slow cook on low for 6-8 hours.

    What do you think?


    • Elise

      Hi JoAnn, well, since everything is already cooked (the turkey, the beans, the tomatoes, etc.) all you are really doing is cooking it so the flavors are well blended. So an hour on low on the stovetop is fine. I’m thinking that if you put it in a slow cooker for that long you may end up overcooking it.

  2. Lou Grubaugh

    Your chili recipe sounds wonderful and particularly the enchiladas. We have a favorite Green Chili Enchiladas (we like the Green Chili Enchilada Sauce from Las Palmas, easily available in most grocery stores). We make ours with cooked chicken or turkey combined with olives, green onions, cilantro and some of the Green Chili Enchilada sauce, then rolled in softened corn tortillas along with some shredded Jack cheee, topped with more sauce, additional shredded jack cheese and a spinkle of cheedar. Bake in casserole. Serve with pico de gallo. Muy Bueno,

  3. SandyK

    Thanks again for this wonderful recipe!

  4. Nicole

    This chili turned out fantastic. Even my husband, who thinks he doesn’t like tomatoes, loved it. Absolutely delicious!

    I added paprika, used red bell peppers instead of green, and added a small bit of chopped, unsweetened chocolate at the end. (Native Texan here.)

    Although, I wouldn’t really say this made A LOT of chili, but maybe our portion sizes are different. We will get about 5 servings out of this batch.

    I forsee turkey chili being a staple for post-Thanksgiving dinner in our family from now on. Thanks!

  5. Scott Smith

    This turned out great! I used 1.2lb of ground turkey meat, and started with the turkey, peppers, garlic, onions, olive oil, and seasoning on the stove. Then transferred everything to the crock pot with the tomatoes and beans and let it cook for a couple hours. Packed it up into the fridge (too late to eat any last night) and had it for lunch today… it was great. Very tasty with a good kick. Kinda sweet, and with excellent aroma. I think my house may smell like sauteed onions and turkey meat for a few weeks.

  6. Ken

    Sounds great, but I really prefer chicken over turkey. Having lived in New Mexico for 7 years, I am addicted to green chilis (like Anaheim or Hatch) and suggest you try this with the green pepper replaced with about 4oz. of green chili (be careful, you have to develop your hot pallet!).

  7. Andy

    I made this on Monday with the leftover turkey, now it is my go-to recipe!!

    oh, and I’m eating it as we speak :)

    I did add some ground ancho and chipotle powder in addition to the chili powder in your recipe.

  8. Krystal

    This was great. quite a bit different than a usually make it and I must have had some super spicy crushed red pepper, so quite a bit spicier than usual but it was still excellent. I used ground turkey which I cooked with a slice of chopped pancetta and substituted a can of Romano beans for the 2nd can of kidney beans.

    Thanks Again Elise!!

  9. MRhé

    Elise, the chili was fantastic! Thanks for the recipe! Very filling :)

  10. Jeff

    Wow! This chili was excellent! I didn’t have any leftover turkey, so I used some ground turkey instead. Great recipe — thanks!

  11. Flora

    This chili was a perfect low cholestrol tasty turkey chili I was looking for. I used ground turkey and low sodium chicken broth and tomatoes. I made it for my family and friends they loved it. It feels really good to make a healthy, tasty meal that everyone loves. No left overs here.

  12. Jemma

    Turkey Chili was delicious! Instead of stock I used a dark beer. I also added corn, peas and 1/2 cup of crushed pinapple. I let the chili sit in a crock pot for 8 hours on low heat. I highly recommend these alterations to an already delicious recipe!

  13. Andrea

    This chili was great. A little spicy and a little spicy. I used ground turkey instead. The chili reminds me of Wendy’s chili. Since it’s just 2 of us, it’s a lot of chili. I love it.

  14. Danielle

    I must tell you, I absolutely love this chili. I had just gotten a new slow cooker and I wanted to make a delicious turkey chili and yours was just what i was looking for.

    I did make a few changes, I used ground turkey chili instead of shredded, and in the place of the oregano, chili owder and cumin, i used what I had on hand, one of the little chili packets you can buy in the store, I let it cook for about 6 hours after browning the turkey with the onions and bell peppers. it was amazing. My husband now always asks for the turkey chilli. thanks

  15. Shannon

    This chili was great. I added some sliced olives, a dollop of light sour cream, and freshly sliced avocado. Excellent!

  16. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness

    We loved this! The only chili I ever make is white turkey chili, but this was a great change of pace. It was so easy and absolutely delicious. Thank you!

  17. KimDeC

    It was a great cure for turkey leftover boredom. Delish!

  18. Matt

    This was pretty good, a great way to have to eat a pound of turkey over the course of the week :)

  19. Emmie RN

    Oh Elise I just love you to death! I make a different recipe from this site every night. I just graduated college and now I finally have time to indulge in my favorite hobby: COOKING :) I felt like making cornbread tonight, which led to the craving of chili to go with it-this will be awesome.

  20. Joe

    The chili recipe was great. I tweaked it a little bit and entered it in a chilli contest and won. The Chili was great. First I doubled the recipe. I added more salt, more sugar, a habanero pepper, a red pepper, only added about 60% of the beans and a little more tomatoe paste. It was the best chili I have ever had and people raved about it. Thanks for the recipe!

  21. njmom0303

    I just made this with my leftovers and it came out very yummy. Will definitely use this again next year.

  22. AJ Kumm

    Fantabulous recipe. My husband made it, but substituted the shredded turkey with ground turkey and used white kidney beans and served it over corn bread. This is going in the recipe box for sure!

  23. Jackie Jones

    I LOVE this website………The Turkey Chili is GREAT……

  24. Anya

    Wonderful turkey chili recipe! I augmented it slightly by adding kidney and black beans, as well as chipotle in adobo chiles and a jalapeno, with a red pepper instead of a green one. Really delicious and filled my kitchen with a wonderful smell while cooking! Perfect winter meal.

  25. Courtney

    This has become my go-to chili recipe. It is the very best, and the flavors come out perfectly. I’ve been making it with chicken, since I had a freezer full of it. I just poached the chicken and shredded it. Otherwise, I follow this recipe exactly. Your food blog is absolutely my favorite, and I cook so much more since I found you. Thank you so much!!

  26. Sherihan

    OMG it was my first time making and trying chili and it was sooooo delicious and heartwarming, thx for sharing :))

  27. vanessa

    This is the first and only chili I’ve ever made; I finally figured out two things to make this chili really killer – I pulsed the stewed tomatoes in my food processor a little bit at a time so that they were still chunky but a little more saucy; I also cooked it a lot longer, closer to 3 hours, so that it would thicken. With all of that, it’s soooo good.

  28. Jennifer Cisowski

    This was simply delicous. Definitely the right combination of spices. I substituted ground turkey for shredded and 1 tsp of vinegar. SO good!

  29. Teal

    Thank you for that recipe. My boyfriend and I love it! It has become a staple of ours in the kitchen and I have gotten the recipe down. It is so nice and spicy! When we moved in together I knew we needed good recipes that we would both enjoy and get recipes that lasted a few days.

    Well done :)
    Thank you… Can’t wait to try the Chicken Paprikash

  30. anna

    Leftover chili is good with eggs too – alongside scrambled or fried, or in a breakfast burrito… I’ve even used chili in frittatas. Just boil off some of the liquid first.

  31. Tregenna

    OH MY GOSH this chili was so good. I substituted shredded chicken. I served it over rice because it was so spicy (but perfect spicy) and shredded cheddar cheese on top. If my avocados were ripe I would have sliced them and put them on top too. I am going to freeze portions in individual bags for eating later. My husband liked it so much he posted it on facebook! I HIGHLY recommend this chili.

  32. LadyA

    I made this chili tonight and it was every bit of amazing…we had nachos topped with the chili, shredded cheese,and sour cream…this is definately gona b great for family game nights…and this recipe serves up a huge pot full! Thanx!

  33. S. B.

    This is delicious! I made it over the weekend for a week’s worth of lunches. In place of stock, I used chicken broth and added a can of diced green chilies. I will definitely make this again.

  34. Liam

    Can i suggest cayenne pepper instead of chilli powder? This might just be a personal preference of mine but i do think it holds everything together better

  35. Katie

    I am looking all over the food blog scene for interesting and delicious turkey recipes :) This looks delicious! This year for the first time we are having our family over in our new apartment and I want to serve Turkey – I am so exited! Thanks so much for the great tips!!!