Cincinnati Chili

Making the chili a day in advance allows you to easily discard the fat, plus it lets the spices settle into each other, giving you a rounder flavor. You can, however, certainly eat it right away.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

For the chili:

  • 2 pounds ground beef (80:20 is good)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 large onion, minced (about 3 cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, optional

Options for serving:

  • Oyster crackers
  • Finely shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can small red kidney beans, drained and warmed
  • Minced yellow onion
  • Hot cooked spaghetti

Method

1 Cook the tomato paste: Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the tomato paste to the dry pot and cook, constantly scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until the tomato smells rich and toasty and you start to see browned (not burned) patches in the bottom of the pot. This should take 1 to 3 minutes.

 2 Combine the ingredients in a pot: Remove the pot from heat and add the ground beef and water. Mix them together into a sludge. It will not look pretty, but press on. There's a method to this madness.

Return to medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring all the while, so the sludge breaks up into a mealy paste. Add all the remaining ingredients except the vinegar and chocolate.

Cincinnati-Style Chili break up the beef How to Make Cincinnati Chili simmer the beef and tomatoes Skyline Cincinnati Chili Recipe simmer the beef and tomatoes What is Cincinnati Chili add all the rest of the ingredients

3 Simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours: Stir the chili often. You want the volume to reduce a bit. (To be honest, just one hour of cook time is okay, but for optimal chili-ness, go long.)

4 Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate in an air-tight covered container. (Note: you can eat the chili immediately if you want to.)

5 De-fat the chili: The next day, lift or scrape off any solidified fat from the top of the chili and discard.

Cincinnati Chili 5-Way chill the chili Cincinnati-Style Chili scrape off the fat

6 Warm and serve: Bring to a rapid simmer, then add the vinegar and chocolate. (The chocolate won’t make it taste sweet—it adds a hint of sophisticated complexity and acts as a foil for all those spices.)

Serve any “way” (see headnotes). The chili will also keep refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a year.

How to Make Cincinnati Chili add the chocolate and vinegar