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Dec 28

Cincinnati Chili

Growing up I was never a fan of chili…I think it might have been the beans. I actually like it now, beans and all, but when I went to college in Ohio I got my first taste of how Cincinnati does chili (beanless, topped with cheddar and served over spaghetti) and I was hooked. Now that I could get on board with! I had a roommate who used to make it, and even though I’ve since tried Skyline Chili, I will always think hers was the best.

When I found this recipe on the Weight Watchers site I was pretty excited to try my hand at making it myself and as soon as I tasted it I knew WW got it right. I ended up making it with lean ground beef instead of ground chicken like the recipe originally called for and I omitted adding water because I wanted it thick. I was a tiny bit worried about putting in 6 whole Tbsp of chili powder but it turned out perfect. It’s got just the right amount of heat to it and the flavors all come together really well. I already can’t wait to make this again!

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Cincinnati Chili

Yield: 8 servings


  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 oz chopped green chilies, canned, mild
  • 6 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1 pound uncooked 95% lean ground beef
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup salsa, mild, chunky
  • 8 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 4 cups cooked wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 cups 2% shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes. Add in the chiles, chili powder, cocoa, cumin, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine and cook about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes with their liquid, salsa and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the flavors blend and the chili thickens slightly, about 1 hour.
  3. Serve layered with ½ cup of spaghetti at the bottom, a scant cup of chili over it and 1T of shredded cheddar cheese on top for each serving.

Weight Watchers Freestyle SmartPoints:
6 per serving (SP calculated using the recipe builder on

Weight Watchers Points Plus:
6 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on

Slightly adapted from


15 Responses to “Cincinnati Chili”

  1. #
    Karen — November 2, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    My husband is a Cincinnati chili nut and has been very supportive of my WW dinners, so I thought I’d seek out something we might really like. He thought this was very good (as did I!). Love your sight, keep up the good work!

    • emilybites replied: — March 26th, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

      I’m glad you both loved it!

  2. #
    daisystet — March 25, 2012 @ 12:42 am

    where in ohio did you go to school? i went to kenyon! (and i’m going to make this!!)

    • emilybites replied: — March 26th, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

      I went to Marietta. It’s small, so I’m not sure if you’ll have heard of it! I hope you love the chili 🙂

  3. #
    Miranda — October 13, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

    I have made this several times, it is one of my favorite recipes! Thank you for it.

  4. #
    Anonymous — November 23, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

    I live in Cincinnati, and I would love to try this. I’d be nervous, but curious. Can you update this with the nutritional information?

  5. #
    Anonymous — January 22, 2013 @ 12:40 am

    Do you have the nutritional information and/or points plus value for just the chili (no spaghetti)? I’d so appreciate it.

  6. #
    Emily — February 5, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

    I made this for my boyfriend, as he’s a big SKyline Chili fan (the thought of which confuses me). We both LOVED it! I made mine a little spicier with a few tweaks (regular canned chilies instead of mild, medium salsa) and the results were super tasty. Thanks for the recipe. I’m looking forward to trying more!

  7. #
    Cara Young — April 21, 2013 @ 2:15 am

    I am a huge Dixie Chili fan but I can’t bring myself to pay the $2000000 shipping fee. I always steal some from my mom when I go home but I always consum eit like a lunatic so I can’t wait to try this! I am drooling as I type.

  8. #
    Anonymous — November 26, 2013 @ 12:03 am

    Yum! I adapted it for the crockpot by sauteing the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the oil and then browned the ground beef and dumped everything in the slow cooker. I like to think of this as bolognese’s trashier cousin 🙂

    • Emily Koenigsberg replied: — December 3rd, 2013 @ 4:09 am

      Haha, I love that :). Glad to hear it turned out well in the slow cooker!

  9. #
    Anonymous — December 26, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

    Hi Emily! Happy Holidays to you! I just wanted to let you know that I made this last week. I had never heard of it, and was also leery of the amount of chili powder, but it turned out great. I used medium salsa, and ground turkey (that’s what I had on hand), and it was wonderful! My husband and I tried various new recipes all last week, and he has been giving them a 1-10 rating (anything 8 or above can be made again and is a keeper), he gave this recipe a 10 – only one of the week. Thank you for all of your hard work and sharing your recipes with us.

  10. #
    Patti — August 10, 2014 @ 9:33 pm

    This is absolutely wonderful! We totally loved it!

    But there is no way it is 6 points. I put the recipe into my fitness pal, and it’s at least 400 calories per serving as written.

    I’m counting it as at least 11 points with the spaghetti. Without, totally agree it’s 6 points.

  11. #
    Ashley — February 14, 2015 @ 6:51 pm

    Made this tonight and it was fantastic! I plugged it into the recipe builder because I had 70/30 beef on hand. I was very nervous about the chili powder, but it was perfect. Smelled and tasted like the real thing. The husband loved it too and it’s going into the rotation!

  12. #
    Jill — October 31, 2015 @ 10:03 pm

    Anyone know the nutrition on this? Calories day protein carb fiber etc?

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