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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!


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 c cooked wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 c low-fat 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 Points Plus:
6 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on

Adapted from


13 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.


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