Turkey Chili

5 from 8 votes

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This is our all-time favorite chili recipe, made with ground turkey and turkey sausage, thick, rich, and flavorful.

Turkey or Chicken Chili

I have made this turkey chili more times than I can count — it is the best ground turkey chili recipe I’ve ever had, and I don’t say that lightly. Meat eaters never feel unsatisfied, thanks to the rich, deep flavors and hearty texture.

This makes a very big batch of chili, which I encourage you to make, regardless of whether there is a crowd coming for dinner. It’s so satisfying and so flavorful and stores and reheats like a dream. Leftovers are a welcome gift.

You’ll want to serve this with all of the chili toppings you love, and you really don’t need anything else other than a big pot of hot rice. If you want to serve it up with a crunchy green salad and a wedge of molasses cornbread, that would be the perfect chili party menu.

Large pot of ground turkey chili on table.

This falls into the blissful, classic category of soups and stews that are even better after a few days. You’ll be thrilled to have a pot of this in the fridge, especially when work or soccer practice means you’re walking in the door at 6:00 p.m.

Turkey Chili: This is our all-time favorite chili recipe, made with ground turkey and turkey sausage, thick, rich and flavorful.

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Onions – A lot of onions create a great base for any chili.
  • Red bell peppers – Add a bit of sweetness and color. Use whatever color peppers you like.
  • Garlic – Adds to the savoriness with a little kick.
  • Dried oregano and basil – Dried herbs are actually best in chili, as they help anchor the robust flavors and canned tomato base.
  • Chili powder and cumin – Add heat and earthiness.
  • Ground turkey and fresh turkey sausage – Remove the sausage from the casing.
  • Crushed tomatoes – A generous amount of crushed tomatoes form the base of the chili. Crushed tomatoes in puree will create a thicker chili, while crushed tomatoes in juice will make the chili a little looser.
  • Pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce – Optional but recommended!
  • Beans – I like to use a mixture of cannellini, kidney, or black beans, sometimes chickpeas, but you can choose one or two of them or sub in another favorite canned bean.
  • Minced fresh dill or parsley – Also optional, but HIGHLY recommended. Finishing the chili with fresh herbs adds a bright lift to the hearty flavors.
  • Hot cooked rice for serving.

For Serving, Pick and Choose

  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese – Such as cheddar or a Mexican cheese blend.
  • Diced avocados or store-bought or homemade guacamole
  • Minced scallions
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh lime wedges

Cooking Tips

  • To make pureed chipotles in adobo sauce, dump the whole can in a small food processor and puree until blended. Scrape the mixture into a container, label it with the name and date, and store it for up to a month in the fridge. Use as desired to add smoky heat to soups, stews, and sauces, as well as chilis.
  • I highly recommend using a combo of ground turkey and turkey sausage. I like to use 81/15 percent ground turkey, but you can use whatever level of leanness you like. Combining the ground turkey with the turkey sausage provides just the right level of seasoning and spice.

Variations

  • You can also use ground chicken and chicken sausage instead of the turkey. Remove the sausage from the casing.
  • Try single-ground ground chile powders instead of a chili powder blend. Think about ancho, guajillo, Aleppo, pasilla, or chipotle. You may want to add some additional cumin, oregano, and basil if you go that route.

How to Make Turkey Chili

  1. Make the base: Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, chili powder, and cumin, and cook for 2 minutes more.
  2. Make the chili: Cook the meat until browned and crumbly. Add the tomatoes, chipotles, if using, and the beans. Cook, stirring often, for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the dill or parsley, if using, and adjust seasonings as needed.
  3. Serve.

FAQs

What is the secret to making good chili?

One of my favorite tips is mixing ground meat with ground sausage. In this case, it’s turkey, but I like this combo in many of my chilis. I also think a generous amount of onions and garlic made a great base. I like a combo of seasonings as well, such as chili powder, ground cumin, chili pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, and dried oregano and basil.

Is turkey chili better for you than beef chili?

In general turkey has less fat in it than beef, so it’s a healthier option.

Does turkey chili taste the same as beef chili?

This turkey chili recipe has a similar level of savory richness to beef chili, thanks in part to the sausage and the dark meat turkey. The seasonings are classic chili seasonings, so yes, I do think this chili tastes similar to beef chili!

How do you thicken turkey chili?

A generous amount of crushed tomatoes forms the base of the chili. Crushed tomatoes in puree will create a thicker chili, while crushed tomatoes in juice will make the chili a little looser. You can also add more tomato paste if you want to thicken up the chili a bit more. Cooking it for longer will also thicken the chili. You could also use a spoon to crush some of the beans against the side of the pot when cooking to thicken the chili.

Why is my turkey chili watery?

You may have used tomatoes in juice instead of tomatoes in puree, which will result in a thinner chili. Cook it for longer to concentrate it and reduce the wateriness.

Storage

This chili will last for up to 5 days in the fridge.

It also freezes like a dream. Pack it into small containers of freezer-proof zipper-top bags, and leave a ½-inch of space on top of the chili in the container so it has room to expand when it freezes without popping the container open. It will freeze well for up to 6 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight. Partially frozen chili can also be reheated over low heat in a pot on the stove. Stir often.

What to Serve With Turkey Chili

Serve the chili with rice, of course, and you don’t even have to bother with salad or a vegetable unless you’re feeling frisky. This chili has the veggies built right in. Classic toppings include avocados or guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, or diced tomatoes.

In some parts of the world, and especially the good old U.S. of A., the definition of chili is the subject of heated discourse. This version could anger the con carne sect, especially those from Texas. There are copious amounts of beans in this chili, and the meat is turkey, not beef. I make no claims to chili authenticity and will just humbly submit the words of chili expert Jane Butel: “Whenever I meet someone who does not consider chili a favorite dish, then I’ve usually found someone who has never tasted good chili.”

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5 from 8 votes

Turkey Chili

This is our all-time favorite chili recipe, made with ground turkey and turkey sausage, thick, rich, and flavorful.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 12 People
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Ingredients 

For the Chili:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 2 large red bell peppers (stemmed, seeded, and chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 pounds ground turkey or chicken and/or fresh turkey sausage removed from the casing (see Cooking Tip)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 3 cans (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (optional)
  • 3 cans (about 15.5 ounces) cannellini, kidney, or black beans (or a mixture of 2 or 3 kinds of beans; rinsed and drained)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley (optional)
  • Hot cooked rice (for serving)

For Serving (pick and choose):

  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese (such as cheddar or a Mexican cheese blend)
  • Diced avocados (or store-bought or homemade guacamole)
  • Minced scallions
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh lime wedges

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, chili powder, and cumin, and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Add the turkey, chicken, sausage, or whatever combination you are using, and the salt and black pepper, stirring to coat well with all of the spices. Cook, stirring, until the meat loses its pinkness, about 6 minutes, then add the tomatoes, chipotles, if using, and the beans. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture tastes like chili, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the dill or parsley, if using, and add more salt and/or pepper as necessary.
  • Serve the chili with hot rice and any toppings you like.

Notes

Serve the chili with rice, of course, and you don’t even have to bother with salad or a vegetable unless you’re feeling frisky. This chili’s got the veggies built right in. Classic topping include avocados or guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa or diced tomatoes.

Nutrition

Calories: 282kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 62mg, Sodium: 401mg, Potassium: 957mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1090IU, Vitamin C: 37mg, Calcium: 77mg, Iron: 4mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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5 from 8 votes (6 ratings without comment)

6 Comments

  1. patti says:

    Thanks so much!!!!

  2. patti says:

    Looks so yummy! Am I an idiot or what? How do I print this recipe? I can’t seem to find the printer friendly version. Thanks

    1. Katie Workman says:

      Right at the bottom of the recipe is a little print button (no, you’re not an idiot! I miss these things all the time). If you are reading this on the site, it’s right above your comment, above this comment.

  3. Melanie says:

    Amazing recipe. I made it with a mixture of ground turkey and chicken sausage – yum. It was so good my husband keeps asking me when I’m making it again!

  4. katie workman says:

    so much seasoning is built into the sausage – gives a good head start on great chili flavor.

  5. Steve says:

    I’ve been looking for a new chili recipe, and this looks great. Never would have thought of using turkey sausage instead of plain old ground turkey — great idea!