Delicious Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Welcome to my kitchen, where I’m excited to share with you my go-to recipe for a classic Midwestern dish – Cincinnati Chili. This slow-cooker version is perfect for those of us who want a hearty and comforting meal without all the fuss.

If you’ve never tried Cincinnati-style chili, you’re in for a treat! It’s a unique kind of chili that’s not quite like anything else out there – it’s fragrant, savory, and has hints of cinnamon and cocoa powder. Trust me when I say, it’s the ultimate comfort food with endless flavor possibilities.

Cincinnati Chili is incredibly versatile – it can be eaten on its own, on top of spaghetti noodles (known as a “two-way”), or as part of a 5-way (with beans and cheese). It’s been a local favorite in Cincinnati since the early 1900s when Greek immigrants first introduced it in the city. Now, this savory dish is enjoyed by many families across the country.

So why not add some comfort food to your cooking routine and bring that Midwest flair to your home with this crock-pot Cincinnati chili recipe today!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili
Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili

If you’re looking for a cozy and flavorful dish with a bit of a kick, then this Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili Recipe is perfect for you. This unique recipe blends savory beef and aromatic spices with the sweetness of cocoa powder to create a one-of-a-kind flavor that will leave you wanting more. Cincinnati-style chili may be different from any other chili you’ve had before, but that’s what makes it all the more special.

What sets this recipe apart is its use of ground allspice, ground cinnamon and cocoa powder that elevate the flavors of the classic chili. The combination of these spices will give your taste buds a delightful surprise, and the texture of the kidney beans and beef chunks will add richness to every bite.

But most importantly, this recipe is designed for effortless cooking with its crockpot-friendly instructions, so all you need to do is let it simmer until it’s ready to serve. This dish is perfect for busy weeknights or when you simply don’t have time to worry about dinner.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting out in the kitchen, this Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili Recipe is easy to make and will bring a new level of excitement to your dinner routine. Trust us, once you try it, you’ll want to make it again and again.

Ingredient List

 The aroma of chili wafts through the kitchen as it simmers in the crockpot
The aroma of chili wafts through the kitchen as it simmers in the crockpot

Here is the list of ingredients you will need to prepare your own Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili:

  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 2 medium chopped yellow onions
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 29 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Serve with spaghetti, kidney beans, cheddar cheese, and diced onion (optional).

The Recipe How-To

Now, it’s time to make the Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili. First and foremost, make sure you have all the ingredients listed above.

Step 1: Brown The Meat

Take a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 pounds ground beef. Brown the beef until it is no longer pink. Drain the fat then add 2 medium chopped yellow onions; cook until the onion is soft.

Step 2: Mix All The Ingredients In A Slow Cooker

Add the browned beef, onions, 4 cloves garlic minced, 29 ounces diced tomatoes with juice, 15 ounces tomato sauce, 6 ounces tomato paste, 2 cups low-sodium beef broth, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, and salt and pepper per preference into a slow cooker.

Step 3: Slow Cook for Six to Eight Hours On Low Heat

Stir all of the ingredients until they are fully combined. Next, cover the slow cooker with a lid and set it on low heat for 6-8 hours. If you’re short on time, you can set the cooker to high heat but reduce cooking time to four hours.

Step 4: Serve Hot!

Once done, take out the bay leaves from your Cincinnati Chili and it’s ready to be served hot over al dente spaghetti pasta (check instructions on spaghetti package). Add some toppings like kidney beans, diced onions, or shredded cheddar cheese if desired.

This recipe makes flavorful and aromatic Cincinnati-style Chili. Make extra to freeze it for another day because you’ll want to eat it again!

Substitutions and Variations

 Shredded cheese and diced onions are the perfect toppings for a bowl of Cincinnati chili
Shredded cheese and diced onions are the perfect toppings for a bowl of Cincinnati chili

Cincinnati Chili is a versatile dish, and there are plenty of room to experiment with. Here’s some substitutions and variations you can try to make the dish your own:

1. Ground Beef: You can replace ground beef with ground turkey or ground chicken for a lighter version of the recipe. If you are looking for a vegetarian option, substitute the meat with mushrooms or lentils.

2. Beans: Kidney beans are a traditional Cincinnati Chili ingredient, but you can use other beans such as pinto beans as well. You can even skip the beans entirely if you prefer.

3. Spices: The spices that go into Cincinnati Chili is what gives it its unique flavor. Experiment with different spice combinations by adjusting the seasoning amounts such as black pepper, salt, ground allspice, crushed red pepper flakes, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, dried thyme, dried oregano, dried basil and paprika. For example adding cocoa powder can give your chili a sweet taste while garlic powder adds extra bite.

4. Pasta: Traditional Cincinnati Chili is served over spaghetti noodles, but you can use any kind of pasta you like. Try angel hair pasta or penne for variation.

5. Toppings: Cincinnati Chili has toppings such as cheese and onions which are important parts of the dish. However, try adding some jalapenos or hot sauce to give it an extra kick. This dish pairs well with cheddar cheese or sour cream but feel free to add any other toppings that fit your preference.

There’s no need to stick to the traditional version of Cincinnati Chili recipe. Feel free to experiment with your favorite ingredients and make it your own!

Serving and Pairing

 This chili recipe is as adaptable as it is delicious - make it your own!
This chili recipe is as adaptable as it is delicious – make it your own!

Serving this Cincinnati chili recipe is as easy as boiling some spaghetti and spooning a generous portion of the hearty chili over the noodles. But don’t stop there! The toppings are where you can really get creative. Shredded cheddar cheese, kidney beans, diced onions – the possibilities are endless.

If you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, try serving this dish “Cincinnati-style” with oyster crackers or “Skyline Chili.” Skyline is a popular brand of Cincinnati chili that’s known for its unique flavor profile – it’s sweet, spicy, and savory all at once. Adding a dollop of homemade skyline chili to your bowl of Cincinnati chili takes the dish to another level altogether.

This dish is also incredibly versatile when it comes to pairing. A full-bodied red wine like Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon complements the richness of the beef and spices perfectly. Or, if you prefer beer, an amber or brown ale will do nicely. And if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, try serving this hearty meal with an ice-cold cola or root beer.

No matter how you decide to enjoy this slow cooker Cincinnati chili recipe, one thing’s for sure – it’s guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds and warm your belly on even the coldest of days.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 With a little prep work, this chili practically makes itself
With a little prep work, this chili practically makes itself

Now that you’ve mastered the art of cooking Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili, you may be wondering if you can prepare it ahead of time and store it for later use. The answer is an emphatic yes! This recipe is perfect for make-ahead meals, as it can be easily frozen or refrigerated for later use.

To refrigerate, allow the chili to cool down to room temperature before placing it in an airtight container. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply place the desired amount of chili in a pot and heat it up over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.

For longer storage, this recipe can also be frozen. Place your chili in a freezer-safe container, leaving at least an inch of headspace to prevent the container from cracking. Label your container with the date and contents before placing it in the freezer. Your Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.

When you’re ready to use your frozen chili, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight before reheating on the stovetop. Alternatively, you can reheat straight from frozen by placing your container of chili directly into a pot of simmering water, making sure that it’s completely submerged.

To take your leftovers up a notch, consider using them as a topping for chili dogs or nachos! Just ladle your reheated chili over hot dogs or chips and top with shredded cheddar cheese and diced onions.

No matter how you enjoy your Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili – fresh off the stove or reheated from the fridge or freezer – one thing is certain: its delicious flavor will have you coming back for more.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Smoky and savory flavors blend together in this mouth-watering dish
Smoky and savory flavors blend together in this mouth-watering dish

Achieving the perfect Cincinnati chili flavor can be a bit tricky, but with the right approach and these tips, you’ll have a delicious and authentic dish in no time!

1. Add cocoa powder

Cocoa powder may seem like an unusual ingredient to add to chili, but it’s actually one of the key components in Cincinnati chili that gives it a distinct flavor. Don’t skip this step!

2. Cook low and slow

One of the benefits of making Cincinnati chili in a slow cooker is that you can cook it low and slow to really develop the flavors. This will make your dish taste even better!

3. Use an Instant Pot for efficiency

If you’re short on time but still want to make a delicious Cincinnati-style chili, consider using an Instant Pot. You’ll be able to achieve similar results in a fraction of the time.

4. Serve over spaghetti with toppings

To really get that Cincinnati chili experience, serve it over a bed of spaghetti with toppings such as shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, and kidney beans.

5. Adjust seasonings to taste

Don’t be afraid to adjust the seasoning as necessary to suit your personal taste preferences. It’s always a good idea to taste-test as you go along to ensure you’re happy with the final outcome.

By following these tips and experimenting with your own variations, you’ll be able to create a perfect Cincinnati-style chili recipe that is sure to become a new family favorite in your household!


As an experienced culinary explorer, I understand that following a recipe can sometimes be challenging. That’s why I’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about this crock pot Cincinnati chili recipe to help you achieve the perfect dish without any hiccups. So, let’s dive in and address any concerns you may have.

What is the difference between Cincinnati chili and regular chili?

When it comes to making chili, the spices used can vary depending on the type of chili you’re making. Traditional red chili often includes a combination of cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder, but there’s room for experimentation. On the other hand, Cincinnati chili has a sweeter edge to it, achieved through the use of spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. If you come across a Cincinnati chili recipe, don’t be surprised to find cocoa powder listed as one of the ingredients.

What is the difference between Skyline chili and Cincinnati chili?

When it comes to Cincinnati chili, one significant distinction is the absence of beans in the sauce. This deviation from traditional chili recipes was a deliberate choice made by Lambrinides, the creator of Skyline Chili, who did not believe that beans were appropriate for chili. Similarly, an authentic Texas Chili, also known as chili con carne, follows this practice and does not include beans in its recipe.

Do you have to brown meat before slow cooker chili?

According to an expert in culinary arts, taking the time to brown or caramelize meat before adding it to a slow cooker may not be mandatory, but it can greatly enhance the taste and overall quality of the final meal. The expert asserts that the caramelized surface of the meat has the potential to imbue the dish with a richer flavor and a more visually appealing appearance.

How does 3 Way Cincinnati chili differ from 2 way chili?

One of the highly demanded food orders is called a “three-way,” where spaghetti is topped with chili and shredded cheese. This “two-way” combination is further elevated by the addition of onions and/or beans in a “four-way” or “five-way” combination, which is then topped off with cheese. To complement the dish, it is common to serve oyster crackers and a mild hot sauce on the side.

Bottom Line

: In conclusion, the Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili Recipe is a delicious and hearty meal that is perfect for any occasion. With its combination of ground beef, kidney beans, and a variety of spices, this recipe is sure to please even the pickiest eaters. Not only is it easy to make in the crockpot, but it also offers plenty of room for experimentation with variations and substitutions.

If you’re a chili lover or just looking for a new recipe to try out, this Cincinnati-style chili is the perfect choice. Whether you’re preparing for a family dinner or a party, this chili recipe will undoubtedly become your favorite go-to dish. It’s easy to make, can be customized to your taste preferences and dietary restrictions, and is an all-around crowd-pleaser.

So why not give this Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili Recipe a try? You won’t be disappointed! It’s sure to become an instant hit with everyone who tries it. So grab your ingredients and get ready to experience the delicious flavors of Cincinnati-style chili from the comfort of your own home.

Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili

Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Have your chili 3,4, or 5 ways, Cincinnati style. This is also great on hot dogs, smothered with shredded cheese.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 835.7 kcal


Crock pot Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons mild chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water

Have It 5 Ways

  • 1 lb spaghetti, cooked
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 (15 1/2 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed, drained, and heated
  • hot sauce (your favorite- I like Franks or Crystal)


  • Brown ground beef, onions, and celery in a large skillet, drain off all fat.
  • Place ingredients for the crock pot into the slow-cooker and stir well.
  • Cover crock pot and cook for 7-9 hours on low, or 3 1/2-4 1/2 hours on high, stirring during last part of cooking if using high setting.
  • Cook spaghetti 1/2 hour before chili is done.
  • To have chili 3-ways, serve it with spaghetti, chili and cheese.
  • To have chili 4-ways, serve it with spaghetti, chili, onion, and cheese.
  • To have spaghetti 5-ways, serve it with spaghetti, chili, beans, onion, and cheese.
  • Douse your chili liberally with hot sauce, if desired.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 548gCalories: 835.7kcalCarbohydrates: 101.4gProtein: 53.2gFat: 24.3gSaturated Fat: 10.9gCholesterol: 112.2mgSodium: 1042.7mgFiber: 14gSugar: 13.9g
Keyword Beans, Cheese, Easy, Fruit, Healthy, Inexpensive, Low Cholesterol, Meat, One-Dish Meal, Spicy, Vegetable, Weeknight, Winter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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