Delicious Cincinnati Chili Recipe with Spiced Meat and Beans

Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure? Get ready to experience the rich, aromatic, and savory flavors of Cincinnati-style chili with the Empress – Cincinnati Chili Recipe. It’s a dish that’s been a staple in the Midwest for decades, but not everyone has had the chance to try it.

Let me tell you why this recipe is worth trying out. First of all, it’s incredibly versatile. You can enjoy it over spaghetti noodles, hot dogs, or even as a dip with nachos. The spice blend is unique and includes cinnamon and allspice along with the traditional chili powder and cumin for a perfect balance of sweet and savory. Plus, if you’re looking for a way to sneak in some extra nutrients into your diet, this recipe uses kidney beans for added protein and fiber!

But what makes this recipe truly special is its history. It originated in Cincinnati, Ohio in the early 20th century when a Macedonian immigrant named Tom John Kiradjieff opened Empress Chili Parlor in town in 1922. Since then, it has become an iconic dish for Cincinnatians and food enthusiasts worldwide.

So why not add a little bit of history and flavor to your table with the Empress – Cincinnati Chili Recipe? Stay tuned to learn more about this regional delicacy and how to make it yourself!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Empress - Cincinnati Chili
Empress – Cincinnati Chili

Are you looking for a hearty and flavorful chili recipe that will take your taste buds on a wild ride? Look no further than the Empress Cincinnati Chili Recipe. This unique spin on traditional chili packs a punch with its blend of spices, making it a favorite among Cincinnati locals and foodies alike. Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:

Firstly, unlike other chilis that rely heavily on beans and meat, this recipe contains a delightful mix of both. The kidney beans add texture while the lean ground beef brings depth to the dish.

Secondly, the use of tomato sauce and water creates a rich base for the chili while still maintaining its hearty nature. Additionally, the combination of Worcestershire sauce, white vinegar, and spices – chili powder, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, allspice, ground cayenne pepper – gives the Empress Cincinnati Chili its signature tangy taste.

Lastly, the way this recipe is served adds its charm. The chili is best served over spaghetti noodles with finely chopped onions and sharp cheddar cheese to top it off. The combination of the savory chili with the sweetness of the noodles leads to an explosion of flavors in one bite.

This recipe has been perfected over time as it originated from an exceptional restaurant owner named Tom John Kiradjieff who opened up Empriss Chili Parlor in Cincinnati back in 1922. Today, it stands as an authentic Cincinnati classic loved by many residents and visitors alike.

In summary, you’ll love this recipe for its unique blend of spices that adds depth to the dish while still giving it a tangy and savory flavor. Its mix of beans and meat makes it protein-packed while still being deliciously filling. And lastly, its serving suggestion over spaghetti noodles topped with cheddar cheese and onions elevates this dish beyond any standard chili recipe you’ve tried before. Don’t wait any longer – try out this Empress Cincinnati Chili Recipe today!

Ingredient List

Before you start cooking, it’s essential to ensure that you have all the necessary ingredients for this Empress – Cincinnati Chili Recipe in your pantry. This authentic Cincinnati-style chili recipe requires 2 pounds of lean ground beef, chopped onions, two 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce, and a quart of water. For that distinctive flavor of Cincinnati-style chili, you’ll need garlic cloves, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato sauce. Furthermore, add a blend of chili powder, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, allspice, ground cayenne pepper, and white vinegar to complement the dish’s flavor profile. Additional ingredients include spaghetti noodles, kidney beans (optional), sharp cheddar cheese for serving. If you don’t have enough chili powder or want to create your blend to suit your taste preferences, you can easily adjust them accordingly. Consult your local groceries for fresh ingredients or double-check your pantry before preparing this deliciously hearty meal.

The Recipe How-To

Now that we have complete the previous sections, it’s time for the fun part – making the Empress Cincinnati chili recipe! Gather all of your ingredients and tools and let’s get started.

Step 1: Saute the Onions

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1 chopped onion and cook until softened and translucent, around 3-4 minutes.

Step 2: Brown the Ground Beef

Add 2lbs. of lean ground beef to the pot with the onions, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula as it cooks. Cook until beef is no longer pink and is browned on all sides.

Step 3: Add Flavorings

Now it’s time to add the flavorings that make Cincinnati chili unique. Add 4 cloves of minced garlic, followed by 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of allspice, and ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper into the pot.

Combine these spices with the ground beef by stirring well and allow them to bloom up in a minute. It will feel like a lot of mixture but don’t worry your chili will come out phenomenal!

Step 4: Vinegar & Tomato Sauce

Add in 2 cups of water, 2 cans (8 ounces each) of tomato sauce, and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Add also two bay leaves and 2 teaspoons of salt. Stir everything together until fully mixed.

Step 5: Simmer

Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and let simmer for around 2 hours or until slightly thickened.

If you want your chili with beans, add two cans (15 ounce each) kidney beans after simmering for an hour.

Step 6: Serve with spaghetti noodles & toppings

While waiting for your chili to simmer, cook according to package instructions enough spaghetti noodles to serve about six people. Drain well after cooking.

Serve warmed chili atop bowls of cooked spaghetti noodles along with toppings like finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chopped onions. You can also pair it with delightful coney like how they serve it in local restaurants such as Gold Star Chili Spaghetti!!

Don’t hesitate to make extra servings because this Empress Cincinnati Chili Recipe tastes amazing!

Substitutions and Variations

When it comes to making Cincinnati-style chili, there are many ways to put your own spin on this classic dish. Here are some substitutions and variations that you can try for a unique take on the Empress Cincinnati Chili recipe:

– Beans: If you’re not a fan of kidney beans, you can try using black beans or pinto beans as a substitute. You can also omit the beans entirely if you prefer.

– Meat: While lean ground beef is the standard meat for Cincinnati-style chili, you can also use ground turkey or chicken for a lighter option. For a vegetarian version, you can use textured vegetable protein (TVP) or soy crumbles instead.

– Spiciness: The Empress Cincinnati Chili recipe has a mild spice level, but if you prefer more heat, you can increase the amount of cayenne pepper or add some diced jalapenos or other hot peppers.

– Toppings: While traditional Cincinnati-style chili is served with spaghetti noodles and topped with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onions, there are many other toppings that you can use. Try topping your chili with sour cream, hot sauce, jalapenos, diced tomatoes, or even Fritos corn chips for some added crunch.

– Serving Suggestions: While Empress Restaurant in Cincinnati serves their chili over spaghetti noodles, many other restaurants in the area serve it over hot dogs or French fries for a classic “three-way” or “five-way” chili dish. You can also serve it over baked potatoes or as a dip with tortilla chips.

No matter how you choose to make your Cincinnati-style chili, the key is to experiment and find what works best for your taste buds. Whether you stick with the classic recipe or put your own twist on it, this hearty and comforting dish is sure to become a favorite in your household.

Serving and Pairing

As the distinct flavors of Empress Cincinnati Chili simmer in your pot and tantalize your senses, you are probably wondering about the best way to serve and pair this unforgettable dish to impress your guests. Fear not, dear chefs – as an expert culinary explorer, I have some amazing serving and pairing suggestions that will make a lasting impression on your palate!

First and foremost, let’s talk about the traditional way to serve Empress Cincinnati Chili. This iconic dish is usually paired with spaghetti noodles, kidney beans, and finely chopped onions. Simply ladle a generous serving of the chili onto a bed of piping hot spaghetti noodles, sprinkle some chopped onions on top, add some sharp cheddar cheese if you like, and voila! The ultimate comfort food is ready to be devoured.

However, if you want to give your Empress Chili a little twist, then it’s time to get creative. Why not try serving the chili over rice for a deliciously hearty meal? Pairing Empress Chili with cornbread or garlic bread makes for the perfect complement to its bold flavors. For those who prefer a lighter bite, try adding some avocado slices on top of your chili or serving it with a side salad. You can even try making a “Cincinnati Style Coney” (a hot dog topped with Empress Chili) for an indulgent snack.

When it comes to drinks, typical Cincinnati-style beers such as Samuel Adams Boston Lager or Rhinegeist Truth IPA are perfect choices to pair with Empress Cincinnati Chili. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, a glass of chilled red wine would bring out the richness of the chili’s flavours just right.

In summary, there are endless possibilities when it comes to pairing Empress Cincinnati Chili. Whether you choose the traditional spaghetti dish or try something new like rice or cornbread, this delicious chili recipe is sure to impress your taste buds every time!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

As an avid chili lover myself, I know how great it is to be able to prepare Cincinnati chili ahead of time and not have to worry about cooking on the day of savoring. Luckily, this empress Cincinnati chili recipe has amazing make-ahead capabilities which means that you can easily make a large portion and store it well.

When it comes to storing the chili, I recommend refrigerating anything that won’t be consumed within the first couple of hours in small, airtight containers or resealable bags for up to five days. Be sure to properly cool your chili before packing away since warm food can spoil quickly in the fridge.

Moreover, you should also know that Cincinnati-style chili freezes exceptionally well. You can freeze this empress style chili in many different ways – either in individual portions or larger batches. If freezing into large batches, pour the chili into a freezer-safe container with enough space for the expansion that will occur during freezing. Label with the date and store for up to four months in the freezer.

To reheat leftovers or frozen portions, gently heat it over low heat while stirring occasionally until hot throughout. Nothing beats food from scratch, but reheating leftover chili properly can actually take your dish from good to great again.

I also wanted to note here that even though the tradition says that Cincinnati-style chili is paired with spaghetti noodles, you shouldn’t feel confined by tradition! This empress Cincinnati chili could be used as a topping for rice or baked potatoes, used as a dip for chips or even served as a spicy sandwich filling.

Enjoy experimenting with this classic cuisine and don’t hesitate to store and reheat it when needed!

Tips for Perfect Results

When it comes to making the perfect Empress – Cincinnati Chili recipe, there are a few tips that can help ensure a successful outcome. As someone who has spent years exploring different variations of chili recipes, I’ve learned firsthand the importance of preparation, ingredient ratio, and cooking techniques. Below are some of my top tips for achieving the best possible results with this particular dish.

First and foremost, be sure to measure out all of your ingredients accurately. This means using measuring cups and spoons for both wet and dry ingredients. In particular, pay close attention to spices like chili powder, ground cinnamon, and cumin to ensure that you’re using the precise amount needed. These spices can make or break the flavor of your chili, so it’s critical not to overdo it.

Another tip when preparing your ingredients is to take the time to chop your onions finely. This will help them cook evenly and blend seamlessly into the chili rather than appearing as large chunks. You’ll also want to use fresh garlic cloves rather than pre-minced or jarred garlic for the best flavor.

When it comes to cooking the chili itself, remember that low and slow is key. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent any sticking or burning on the bottom of the pot. Adding bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce will help deepen the flavor profile of the chili as well.

Finally, one important factor in creating an authentic Cincinnati-style chili is serving it on a bed of spaghetti noodles with kidney beans and sharp cheddar cheese on top. To really take it up a notch in terms of presentation, finely chop additional onions as a garnish over the cheese layer.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating a delicious and satisfying meal that takes its inspiration from some of Cincinnati’s most beloved chili joints like Empress Restaurant or Skyline Chili. So why not channel your inner culinary explorer today and give this recipe a try?


As our journey through these delicious Cincinnati chili recipes comes to a close, we have put together the most frequently asked questions that will help you master this delectable dish. So, let’s dive in and explore these FAQs to get a better understanding of this unique style of chili that is so beloved by Cincinnati locals and food enthusiasts everywhere.

What makes Cincinnati chili different?

When it comes to making chili, there are a variety of different spice combinations you can use to achieve the desired flavor. Traditional red chili typically incorporates a mix of cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. However, there are no hard-fast rules, and various other spices can be added to tailor the flavor profile to your liking.

In contrast, Cincinnati chili is known for its unique and sweet taste, which stems from spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. This type of chili typically deviates from the typical red chili recipe by including these sweet spices, and some recipes even call for a hint of cocoa powder. So, if you’re looking to mix up your chili game, give Cincinnati chili a try!

What is the difference between Skyline Chili and Cincinnati chili?

When it comes to authentic Cincinnati chili, one notable distinction is the absence of beans in the sauce. This was a conscious choice made by the creator, who strongly believed that chili shouldn’t contain beans. Similarly, an authentic Texas Chili, also called chili con carne, does not have beans in the recipe.

What are the ingredients in Cincinnati chili?

In this recipe article, I will be sharing detailed instructions, tips, and recommendations on how to make Cincinnati chili. The main ingredients used in this dish will also be highlighted.

What is the world famous Cincinnati chili?

In 1922, the Kiradjieff brothers concocted a unique blend of Mediterranean spices, kidney beans, spaghetti noodles, chopped onions and shredded cheese at their restaurant right by the Empress Theatre in downtown Cincinnati. This creation, known as the Empress Chili, has been credited with revolutionizing the local culinary scene and is widely regarded as the birthplace of Cincinnati chili.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Empress Cincinnati Chili recipe is a must-try for any culinary adventurer looking to experience authentic Cincinnati-style chili. From its unique blend of spices to its savory inclusion of spaghetti noodles and kidney beans, this recipe is sure to delight your taste buds and satisfy your hunger.

What sets Empress Cincinnati Chili apart from other chili recipes is its traditional and historical significance. With origins dating back to the 1920s, Empress Chili Parlor has earned a special place in Cincinnati’s culinary scene as a true local staple. And now, with this recipe in hand, you can recreate that same magic in your own kitchen.

So what are you waiting for? Gather your ingredients, grab your apron, and get ready to taste the difference yourself. Trust me, once you’ve had a bowl of Empress Cincinnati Chili, you’ll never look at chili the same way again.

Empress - Cincinnati Chili

Empress - Cincinnati Chili Recipe

This recipe was given to my better half, from his Uncle Dave, over 35 years ago. It has been a huge hit with our family & guests! NOTE: with all spices it is best to use a well rounds measure Get all the toppings lined up and let your guests create their own tasty chili. Freezes well if there are any leftovers.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 328.7 kcal


  • 8 cups water
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 4 medium onions, chopped fine, in a food processor
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 3 small dried chilies, whole
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 -6 bay leaves, whole
  • 2 teaspoons salt (not optional)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground pepper


    One way chili

    • thick spaghetti noodles, cooked to package directions

    Two way chili

    • pasta topped with chili

    Three way chili

    • top with sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated

    Four way chili

    • top with raw onion, finely chopped

    Five way chili

    • top with kidney bean


    • NOTES: All seasonings/ spices should be measured using rounded t/T for a full flavor. You may want to use a level measure of cayenne. It packs heat!
    • Add 8C of water to deep stock pot.
    • Using your hands, add the raw ground beef and break up the raw beef as you add it to the water.
    • Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. NOTE: remove the lid of the pot or tip it so the steam can escape.
    • Simmer for several (4) hours or more to reduce the amount of the liquid. Stir often. Reduce until the chili is thick.
    • When desired consistency is achieved: remove bay leaves and whole peppers.
    • Served 5 ways! Add your favorite toppings as suggested above.

    Your Own Notes


    Serving: 469gCalories: 328.7kcalCarbohydrates: 13.9gProtein: 32.7gFat: 15.9gSaturated Fat: 6.3gCholesterol: 98.3mgSodium: 1332.7mgFiber: 3.9gSugar: 6.7g
    Keyword Cheese, Meat, Spaghetti
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Recommended Recipes Just For You

    None found