Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.
Oh my! I consider myself a big fan of American cooking, and this is a new one on me. The chilli is a great recipe to cook for the spice fiends in the household. Although I didn’t get to the chocolate or the vinegar part (served it immediately after stewing), I will give it a burl next time.
Call it spaghetti bolognese for adults.
Glad to hear your enjoyed this! Thank you for giving it a try. If you have any leftovers, you can sprinkle a little vinegar over the chili and stir it in…it wakes up the spices in a really cool way.
We LOVE Cinncy Chili and used to try to schedule flights through the airport that served the chili and dogs. Then we found the packets and the canned chili in local grocery stores. Not quite the original taste. Today, I made the chili from your recipe without the allspice (I don’t care for it and we didn’t have any). It was delicious! Thank you!
Right on, Tammy!
Looking forward to trying this recipe next time I go shopping! I’m from Winnipeg, Manitoba and we have a nearly identical dish called fat boy sauce and it’s fabulous on burgers.
Cedric, hope it’s a hit! I bet this will have a different flavor than the fat boy sauce because f all the spices, but I bet it’ll be totally worth it, and a fun way to marry two similarly storied iconic regional diner dishes.
Any readers wanting to learn more about Fat Boy burgers can read here.
I had heard of Cincinnati Chili on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, but never have cooked or eaten it. Thought this would be a fun project while puttering around the kitchen in coronavirus isolation. Followed the recipe( including chocolate) and LOVE it. Made a second batch to deliver to neighbors along w/the fixings. Thanks for a great recipe. It will be a go-to in the future, for sure!
Kaye, this makes my day. Thank you for sharing! I have a batch I’m thawing to enjoy this week on spaghetti with all the ways. How kind you are to share with your neighbor. We wish you many safe and satisfying coronavirus cooking adventures.
I am going to make this tonight! However, I don’t have chocolate. Can I use unsweetened cocoa powder?
If you like, you can add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened natural (not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder instead of the unsweetened chocolate. But you can skip it altogether, if you like. I prefer it with the chocolate, but some of the oldest chili parlors in Cincinnati don’t use it at all. Enjoy!
Thanks for sharing! As a a Cincinnati native that’s been living out of state for many years, I’ve been looking for a good homemade recipe to help hold me over between visits home and I’m excited to give this a try. Just a quick note – you mentioned a 4-way being onion only but it is actually a choice between onion and beans and then a 5-way is both. A couple other recommended serving options are over a baked potato, over fries, in a tortilla (a chilito), or the crowd pleasing chili dip – a layered dip with cream cheese as a base then topped with chili and cheese (baked or microwaved if short on time) and served with tortilla chips, Fritos, or crackers. It’s the easiest and best appetizer to bring to any party and always a crowd pleaser!
I boiled the meat in 5 cups of water and then drained it saving the water in a fat separator. Cooked the tomato paste for 3 minutes and then poured the water from the fat separator back into the pan and added the meat. Continued as written from there.
This was pretty awesome. We have a friend who introduced us to “Cincinnati chili” and really enjoyed it and wanted to try and make it at home. We made three adjustments, instead of water we used 3 cups of beef stock, instead of straight ground beef we did 1lbs ground turkey and 1lbs ground beef, and instead of chocolate powder we used 1oz of baker’s unsweetened chocolate (chopped in small pieces). I sautéed the tomato paste first and then made that “sludge” of ground meat, tomato sauce, spices, and beef stock. And then put it all in the instant pot for 30 min with natural release. I’ll be honest, I was pretty hesitant and thought the meat would be like meatloaf (usually recipes say to brown ground meat first), but this was awesome! The meat and the sauce were perfect! We then added the vinegar and chocolate on top to mix, it was great! Loved this recipe and the mode of cooking!
Great recipe! It’s the real deal.
A Cincinnati resident for 45 years here, who is a huge fan of Skyline Cincinnati Chili, so I must tell anyone making this that chocolate or cocoa is NOT an optional ingredient in our chili. It has to have it, or it ain’t Cincinnati chili!
I saw that one of the owners of Skyline came out and said there isn’t any chocolate/ cocoa in their chili. This information came out due to allergy concerns.
Thank you Sara!! I have in-laws from Cincinnati and they taught me how to make Cincinnati Chili from scratch one year. Of course I didn’t write anything down, but this is pretty much how they did it. This is authentic as it gets. Minus your grandma teaching it to you.
Actually, there are two 4-Ways: 4-Way Bean and 4-Way Onion, ordered by Cincinnatians as 4-Way-B and 4-Way-O respectively. Aficionados may occasionally be heard ordering an x-Way Dry or x-Way Wet, which prompts the chef to included less or more liquid in the ladle of chili. Or how about a 5-Way Inverted, which is assembled with the cheese on the bottom and the spaghetti on top? I like to add a little mustard so the taste if reminiscent of a Skyline Skyliner: a special Kahn’s wiener on a bun with mustard, chili, onions, and cheese. Hot sauce is optional but recommended.
Why would you want to discard the fat? Doing so diminishes the flavor and mouthfeel. If you want to make it healthier, eliminate the spaghetti.
Hi Frank! I made this dish for these photos, and I can attest that what you scrape off is a layer of fat on the top that’s just not necessary for the consumption of the dish. It’s part of the prep process of Cincinnati Chili, and serving it with spaghetti is part of the tradition. You can certainly eliminate the spaghetti if you like and just eat this as chili itself–just don’t tell anyone from Cincinnati! (Kidding! Regional food pride is a real thing!) Thanks for your question!
well I had no cloves so I left them out, had no tomato sauce so I used 1/2 cup ketchup 1/2 cup water,had to use the 3 tbs. cocoa powder, used about 1 tsp of adobo seasoning instead of salt, and a big heaping tbs of brown sugar, now it’s perfect!
I enjoyed it. But other members of my family– who are from Cincinnati– think it has far too much chili powder, and too little chocolate, cinnamon, and cumin, as well as being too thick. Personally though, I liked it, but it did have quite a different flavor than Cinci chili I’ve had in the past– if you want to make it more like that add water/cook for less time, reduce the chili, and increase the other spices.
Video was helpful, and not trying to be picky, but we don’t spin the pasta on the fork here in the Queen City……we slice straight down through cheese, chili and pasta and scoop with the fork in one continuous motion.
Yes!! I saw the image with the spiraled noodles and was like “Noooo! That’s not how you eat Cincinnati Chili! You cut and scoop! Never swirl!” Lol Glad someone else caught that! :-)
I grew up in Cincinnati, favoring Gold Star vs Skyline, but never knew how it was made (without the packet!) This chili was great! Brought back the authentic taste of my childhood. Stirring the ground beef into the water to make a sludge was strange, but created the perfect texture. Had our 3-ways tonight… looking forward to chili dogs later in the week!
Just the chili recipe itself was great! I added the cider vinegar and cocoa powder at the end (I didn’t have any unsweetened chocolate so I used a substitution of 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon butter). The cocoa was a bit too strong and knocked me over… I might halve that in the future or see if unsweetened chocolate makes a difference.
I found I preferred the chili best with crackers. I didn’t have any oyster crackers so I used townhouse, and the sweetness of the crackers balanced out the chili very well, and made it quite delicious! I found the recipe overall very enjoyable. In the future I might be apt to try this without any chocolate since the basic part of the recipe was pretty good on its own.
Wonderful! I’ll never make any other chili recipe. I have shared with friends who say the same. Thank you.
As a Detroiter, it deeply offends me that they call Cincinnati chili dogs “coneys”. They have NOTHING in common with true Michigan coneys. Most people in this state find Cincinnati chili inedible. Cinnamon, clove, and allspice belong in great Lebanese fare, not in chili. Save the chocolate for mojo.
Well, Ian, that’s why it’s called REGIONAL foods. A Coney is what you make of it, you have your way, Cincinnati has our way, another part of the country has their way. I don’t like some regional foods I’ve tried but I wouldn’t insult them. Play nice.
I’ve never had Cincinnati Chili before making this. My kids were certain they were going to hate it. We were all pleasantly surprised. A week later, I visited my kid’s adopted grandparents, one of them an Ohio native. He just so happened to be making Cincinnati chili and served it to use for dinner. It tasted very similar, but this version was our favorite. We loved it over spaghetti which was SO weird (yet so delicious) for us as New Yorkers.