Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili is a beloved regional dish originating from Cincinnati, Ohio, known for its unique blend of spices and versatile serving styles. Unlike traditional chili, Cincinnati Chili incorporates a variety of unexpected spices like cinnamon, allspice, and cocoa powder, giving it a distinctive, rich flavor. Typically served over spaghetti or hot dogs and topped with a variety of ingredients, this chili has become a staple of Cincinnati cuisine and a favorite comfort food for many.


**Step 4: Serve the Chili**

1. **Remove the Bay Leaves:**
– Before serving, remove and discard the bay leaves.


2. **Serving Styles:**
– Cincinnati Chili is traditionally served in several ways, known as “ways.” Here are the common serving styles:

– **Two-Way:** Chili served over spaghetti.
– **Three-Way:** Chili served over spaghetti and topped with shredded cheddar cheese.
– **Four-Way:** Three-way plus diced onions or beans.
– **Five-Way:** Four-way with both onions and beans.

3. **Garnishes:**
– Common garnishes include shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, kidney beans, oyster crackers, and a dollop of sour cream.

**Flavor Profile:**


– Cincinnati Chili is characterized by its complex and rich flavor profile, combining savory and sweet elements. The unusual blend of spices, including cinnamon, allspice, and cocoa powder, sets it apart from traditional chilis, creating a slightly sweet and aromatic dish with a hint of spice.


**Nutritional Benefits:**

– Ground beef provides a good source of protein and iron. The spices used in the chili have various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties. Tomato sauce adds vitamins A and C, and onions and garlic contribute antioxidants and essential nutrients.

**Tips and Variations:**

– **Meat Options:** While ground beef is traditional, you can use ground turkey or a mix of beef and pork for different flavors.
– **Spice Level:** Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to control the heat level of the chili.
– **Vegetarian Version:** Substitute the ground beef with a mix of lentils and beans for a vegetarian version of Cincinnati Chili.



Cincinnati Chili is a unique and flavorful dish that offers a delightful twist on traditional chili. With its distinctive blend of spices and versatile serving options, it is a beloved comfort food that showcases the culinary heritage of Cincinnati. Whether enjoyed over spaghetti or on a hot dog, topped with cheese, onions, or beans, this chili is sure to satisfy your taste buds and warm your soul. Enjoy the rich, aromatic flavors of Cincinnati Chili and bring a taste of the Queen City to your table.


Cincinnati Chili is a unique and flavorful dish that combines a rich blend of spices with ground beef, simmered to perfection. Traditionally served over spaghetti or hot dogs, this chili offers a delightful twist with hints of cinnamon, chocolate, and nutmeg. Perfect for a hearty meal that warms the soul, this dish is sure to become a family favorite.


4 cups water (or half water, half beef broth)
6 ounces tomato paste
2 pounds ground beef (80/20)
½ cup onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 ounce dark chocolate (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 bay leaf
Spaghetti noodles, cooked
Beans (optional)
Onion, diced (for serving)
Cheddar cheese, shredded (for serving)
Oyster crackers (for serving)


In a large Dutch oven, combine the water and tomato paste. Whisk together to combine.
Crumble the ground beef with your fingers and add it to the liquid in the pot.
Add all remaining ingredients to the pot and stir to combine.
Bring the pot of chili to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and lower the heat. Let it simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Skim the grease from the top as needed.
Remove the chili from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Cover and store the chili in the refrigerator overnight.
After the chili has cooled overnight, use a spoon to break up the grease on the top and remove it completely.
Bring the chili back to a low simmer over medium heat.
Serve the chili warm over spaghetti noodles or over a hot dog. Garnish with beans, diced onion, shredded cheddar cheese, and oyster crackers if desired.
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 2 hours | Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes | Servings: 8

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