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Cincinnati Chili


It's not a risky statement to say that there are as many styles of chili as there are chili makers, but several regions of the country have embraced distinctive recipes.

Cincinnati chili is a whole 'nother story. A very smooth blend of meat, vegetables and spices, this chili is more a meat sauce than the robust, chunky dish you might be picturing in your mind.

The chili ingredients may vary slightly, but most seem to include very finely ground beef (chuck is usually called for), tomato, a touch of vinegar, and grated unsweetened chocolate, with sweet spices like cinnamon and allspice in the background. All of these ingredients are simmered for three hours, to make a very subtle and balanced flavor.

Cincinnati's chili is a fitting crowning glory for a fresh-baked hot dog bun and a nicely grilled hot dog.

At a glance

12 servings, when spooned over a hot dog
Nutrition information


Choose your measure:

  • 2 pounds ground chuck (ask the butcher to run it through the grinder a second time if you want your chili ultra-smooth)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf, 5 whole cloves, and 5 whole allspice, tied up in a piece of cheesecloth; or simply substitute 1 whole bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves and ground allspice, and skip the cheesecloth
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grated unsweetened chocolate or 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 onions, grated or diced very finely
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cups tomato sauce


  1. Brown the beef in a large pan, and drain the fat.
  2. Stir the water into the beef, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the cheesecloth bag with the spices, and all of the remaining ingredients (start with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt).
  4. Simmer the chili slowly, uncovered, for 2 hours, until it's thick.
  5. Cover and continue cooking slowly for another hour.
  6. Adjust seasoning, adding a bit more salt, ground black pepper or additional red pepper for extra kick, if you like.
  7. Discard the cheesecloth bag with the spices.
  8. Serve atop hot dogs, or make it three-, four-, or five-way. Don't forget plenty of napkins!
  9. Store for 5 days in the fridge or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1/3 cup, 240g
  • Servings Per Batch 12
Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories 231 cal
  • Calories from Fat
  • Total Fat 17g
  • Saturated Fat
  • Trans Fat
  • Cholesterol 56mg
  • Sodium 569mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 6g
  • Dietary Fiber 2g
  • Sugars
  • Protein 14g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.