Cincinnati Chili

Crock Pot

Cincinnati Chili - add it to your fall comfort food meal plan

Think chili has to be hot and spicy? Then you’ve never had Cincinnati chili. Cincinnati chili uses spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to give it a sweeter flavor.





Dish Type

Crock Pot 


 8 hours


This recipe is

Weight Watchers Points






Whole 30*          Paleo

Gluten Free        Dairy Free           Nut free              

*Substitute Coconut Aminos for Worcestershire Sauce if following Whole30 or similar Clean Eating Plan

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  • 2 lbs ground beef

  • 2 cups chopped onion

  • 2 cups beef stock

  • 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste

  • 2 tbsp chili powder

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 3 tbsp cocoa

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg



  • Brown meat if desired (see description below)
  • Combine tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and some of the stock in a bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Combine spices in a bowl.
  • Add meat and onions to crock pot. Sprinkle seasoning over meat and onions. 
  • Pour tomato paste mixture over meat, onion, and seasonings.
  • Add remaining broth to pot. If you want chunky chili, use less broth.  If you like thinner chili, use more broth.
 Ingredients for Cincinnati Chili recipe.   It looks like a lot, but most are spices and seasonings you probably already have in your pantry.


It’s autumn here now, and right now it’s damp and gloomy out.  This fall weather always puts me in the mood for some chili.  I always thought of chili as a dish with a bit of a kick.  That was until I started going to Hard Times Café.  If you are a chili lover, next time you’re in the DC Metro Area, check them out.  It was at Hard Times that I was first introduced to Cincinnati chili.  Now I love to make it at home!


There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe.  Lots!  Eight spices!  Fortunately, most of the spices are pantry staples, so you won’t need to spend a fortune buying jars of spices that will then sit in your cabinet until the end of time.  Coming into the fall, I found that a lot of the ingredients I pulled from my spice rack are things I use a lot more this time of the year anyway like cinnamon and nutmeg.


So start by gathering your ingredients.  I promise, this is the hardest part.


I don't cook my meat before putting it in the crock pot, but I won't judge if you do.


I am a firm believer in the idea that crock pot meals should be cooked in the crock pot.  I don’t like recipes that tell you to cook everything, and then put it in the crock pot and let it cook some more.  When I make chili, I usually just dump the meat into the crock pot.  However, I will look at the fat/lean ratio of the meat.  If you’re using fattier ground beef, you might want to, at least partially, brown the meat and drain off the fat.  Too much fat can make the chili too soupy.  Personally, I won’t cook meat that’s 85% or higher lean.  If I’m using 80% lean/20% lean, I will brown a but and drain off some of the fat. 


Of course, you can also use a mix of other lean meats like turkey or chicken if you want to avoid the fat issue.  I haven’t tried any meat other than beef with this recipe, but if you do, leave me a message in the comments.  I’d love to know how it turns out. 


If you want to brown your meat, heat a pan over medium high heat.  Add meat, breaking it up in the pan, and onions to hot pan.  Drain off the fat and set aside when the meat is browned to your liking.


Combining wet ingredients.  I do this to thin out the tomato paste.


While the meat is browning, or before placing everything in the crock pot, combine some of the wet ingredients.  I actually do this in a large liquid measuring cup.  I start by combining the apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste.  I then add some of the broth and stir to combine everything, thinning out the tomato paste. 


Spices, combined and in a bowl ready to be sprinkled into the pot!


In a second bowl, combine the dry spices and mix well.


The first few layers of ingredients in the crock pot for the Cincinnati Chili


Now to the crock pot!  To make sure everything it mixed throughout the dish, I actually layer the ingredients in the crock pot.  Put about half of the meat and onions in the pot.  If you didn’t already brown the meat, make sure you break the meat up as much as possible when you add it to the pot.  Sprinkle about half of the dry seasoning mix over the meat and onions.  Add the rest of the meat mixture and minced garlic to the pot, and cover with the rest of the dry seasoning.  


Once the meat, onion, and dry seasonings have been added, pour the tomato paste mix over the top.  Finally add the beef broth to the pot.  I start with two cups of beef broth, but it’s a matter of preference.  If you like the chili thinner, you can use more.  I’ve made it with as much as four cups and it still comes out great! 


Pouring the liquid into the crock pot.  Start with two cups, but if you want thinner chili, go up to four.


Not sure how much liquid to use?  Think about how you’ll serve the chili!  Making a chili mac, chili over spaghetti, try thinner to the chili will coat the pasta like a sauce.  Serving over tater tots or Fritos?  Try a little less liquid.  Right now, the only meat my toddler will eat is Cincinnati chili, so all of the broth goes in. 


Yummy!  The Cincinnati Chili is ready!


Cover and let cook.  I cook the chili on low for 8 hours. 


Cincinnati chili, served with fritos


Serve your favorite style or add your favorite chili toppings.  Because of the sweetness, I tend to keep sour cream and cheese away from my Cincinnati chili, but it works well over tater tots or with fresh cornbread. 


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 Nutritional Information for Cincinnati Chili: 278 calories, 8.2 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbs, 38 grams of protein per serving

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