Turkey Chili Recipe

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Turkey chili is wonderful stuff. It’s a healthier alternative to beef chili and is just as filling and flavorful.

I don’t think I could go through life without a few good bowls of chili to enjoy through the cold winter months. There’s just something about chili that is so homey, hearty and comforting. Paired with some Corn Bread, it’s the perfect dinner for a cold night in.

A white crock filled with turkey chili, garnished with fresh herbs.

(Then all you have to do is follow that with a nice cup of Hot Chocolate for dessert!)

But I digress…

Turkey Chili Recipe

This recipe has been updated slightly from the original recipe I posted here back in December of 2010.

There isn’t a huge difference between the two, but the spices I use now are different and I made a few minor updates or changes that I like better these days.

Mostly, the changes are in the spices I used. They are spicier then the original version, but I give you the milder options as well, so you can still make the original, milder version if you prefer that.

Can You Freeze Ground Turkey Chili?

This is great for the freezer! It makes a relatively large batch, so this is really easy to freeze in portion-sized containers. It’s great for grabbing straight from the freezer and popping into your lunch bag/box and getting out the door fast!

A side view of a crock of turkey chili. Fresh herbs lay behind the bowl.

Can You Pack Chili Warm?

Pack this in a thermos for school or work lunches. Or pack it cold (and keep it cold) until you can microwave it at work or school.

I don’t recommend taking hot chili with you that isn’t in a heat-preserving container like a thermos. If chili isn’t held at appropriate temperatures, it can become a health risk. So a good quality thermos is the way to go if you want to take warm chili with you somewhere.

Can You Substitute Turkey For Beef In Chili?

For you beef lovers out there, yes, you can substitute beef here and it will be just as good. It will have a slightly different flavor, but it will still be tasty. Give it a try!

Turkey Chili Ingredients

  • Oil – These days, I used coconut oil. But any oil you typically use will work here. Grapeseed oil or avocado oil are both healthy choices.
  • Red onion – Choose a large onion for this. The larger the better. Chop it coarsely or to a size you like. They will cook down in size when you sauté them.
  • Red bell pepper – Chop these about the same size as your onions. The color pepper you use doesn’t matter much. Pick your favorite. Green onions will give this chili a bit more of that peppery tang, but either is tasty. I’ve made this with many different colored peppers and they were all good.
  • Garlic cloves – It’s good to chop these pretty fine, or as fine as you can manage.
  • Ground turkey – You can use any type you like. Ground turkey breast or the regular stuff. Either will work, but turkey breast will be a tad bit more “rubbery” when done due to lack of fat.
  • Chicken broth – Make sure there is no sugar added and opt for low sodium if that’s a concern for you.
  • Fresh chopped tomatoes – You can guestimate the measurement on this. It can be a bit more or a bit less than 2 cups, or you can omit them completely. I just happen to have 2 tomatoes handy and they happened to equal 2 cups once chopped. You have wiggle room here.
  • Canned tomato paste – Get the paste that doesn’t have sugar added.
  • Canned pinto beans – Look for beans that don’t have sugar added. It’s very common to find cans of beans that have sugar added.)
  • Canned black beans – Again, look for no sugar added. You can use different beans if you prefer. I used a 15 oz. can to keep things simple. Or you can use 2 cans of the same beans if you prefer. The choice is yours and it’s a fun way to switch up the flavors on this chili.
  • Canned tomato sauce – Tomato sauce commonly has sugar and lots of salt added. So look for varieties that don’t have sugar added and are low in sodium if that’s something you need. I like to use organic.
  • Salt and pepper – I add these both taste after cooking. That way I don’t overdo it on either one.
An overhead view looking down into a crock of turkey chili.

Optional Additions:

I will often add these extras to further build out the flavors. They are optional and not included in the recipes below. But they are tasty if you need “more” in the flavor department.

  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar – This deepens the flavor.
  • A few drops of stevia – You can use any sweetener you are comfortable with. Just remember a little goes a long way. You won’t need much to further develop the flavors of chili.

Chili Topping Ideas:

We all love to top our chili with more deliciousness. Here are a few ideas:

  • Fresh, chopped onions (yes! More onions!)
  • Grated cheese (cheddar or parmesan would work well here)
  • Green onions
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Avocado
  • Fresh chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped herbs like Italian parsley or cilantro
  • Sliced black olives

How To Make Turkey Chili

Make sure to check out the video just above the recipe. It shows this recipe in action.

Sautéing the onions and bell peppers.

Warm the oil in a medium to large pot. Add the onions and bell peppers and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Adding the garlic to the pot.

Add in the garlic and continue to cook and stir for about 1 minute.

Stirring in the ground turkey.

Stir in the ground turkey and cook until mostly browned.

Adding the remaining ingredients and simmering.

Add in all remaining ingredients, remembering to adjust the seasoning based on whether you want spicy or mild chili. Season with salt and pepper.

Horizontal shot of a white crock filled with turkey chili and garnished with chopped parsley.

Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro, if you wish.

More Healthy Chili Recipes

Recipes Used Here

Turkey Chili Recipe Card

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A white crock filled with turkey chili, garnished with fresh herbs.

Turkey Chili Recipe

The updated version of our family favorite chili with options for making it mild or spicy.
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Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 11 servings
Calories: 224kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley



  • Medium to large pot


  • 1 tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 large red onion (chopped)
  • 1 large red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 6 large garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 cup chicken broth (no sugar added)
  • 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste (no sugar added)
  • 15 oz. can pinto beans (do not drain – no sugar added)
  • 15 oz. can black beans (do not drain – no sugar added)
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce (no sugar added)
  • salt and pepper to taste after cooking

Seasoning For Spicy Chili:

  • ½ cup chili seasoning (see link above for recipe)

Seasoning for Milder Chili:

  • ¼ cup ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder


  • Warm the oil in a medium to large pot. Add the onions and bell peppers and sauté until the onions are translucent.
    Sautéing the onions and bell peppers.
  • Add in the garlic and continue to cook and stir for about 1 minute.
    Adding the garlic to the pot.
  • Stir in the ground turkey and cook until mostly browned.
    Stirring in the ground turkey.
  • Add in all remaining ingredients, remembering to adjust the seasoning based on whether you want spicy or mild chili. Season with salt and pepper.
    Adding the remaining ingredients and simmering.
  • Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro, if you wish.
    Horizontal shot of a white crock filled with turkey chili and garnished with chopped parsley.


Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible. Data is figured using chili seasoning mix. Calories are slightly lower if using seasoning for the milder chili.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 703mg | Potassium: 1000mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3534IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 4mg

Recipe from the Gracious Pantry® archives, originally posted 12/15/10.

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I'm Tiffany, a writer for MSN and the AP Newswire, a cookbook author, digital publisher, food lover, and mom. I create healthy, clean eating recipes for everyday living.

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  1. 5 stars
    Just made this recipe, and it was delicious! Didn’t have any chili powder, still turned out great. Added 2 teaspoons of both coriander and cumin powder, added even more flavor! Saving this as my go to chili recipe.

  2. Can this be made in crock pot!

    1. Carol – I believe so, but you will still want to do steps 1 and 2. You at least need to brown the meat if you don’t cook it all the way. If you brown it, cook for 4-6 hours. If you cook it completely first, 3-4 hours should be fine.

  3. A lot of the ingredients you name in your recipes are often called different things to us Australians! I have to really hunt for things that I can’t find in our supermarkets and when I ask staff for something they just look at me weird. I had 3 staff members hunting all over the place for kefir one day! One of them was saying I think it’s coffee and I’m like…. I don’t think it’s coffee… :/ Tomato sauce to us is sort of like your ketchup, we would use it on things like chips… well fries or… hot dogs etc. So when you say tomato sauce do you mean like, tomato juice or puree? Or do mean… tomato sauce? I went looking for tins of tomato sauce and couldn’t find them and thought maybe it’s something different to us. It’s driving me mental, I want to eat these yummy things! Pinto beans was my most recent what do we call them. Mexe-beans… we call them mexe beans! Wtf, why can’t they just be called what they are! Lol.

    1. Renee – Oh no!!! I have to say that being in Ireland right now, I have a good idea of what you mean. Tomato sauce to us is like a slightly thickened marinara with no added flavorings. I haven’t found it here in Ireland either. I ended up buying pasta sauce. Kefir is a soured milk, and is often found in nordic countries like Germany. I honestly don’t know what you would call it, but I suppose you could get close by mixing milk with plain yogurt until you have a thick but runny “sauce”.

  4. Any suggestions for a paleo substitution for the kidney beans? I can bump up the amount of peppers, but I think it would still need something more.

    1. Lois – I would add more peppers, onions and even a little extra meat if you want. but really, the easiest thing is to just leave them out. It will still be very tasty. 🙂

  5. Curious: I’ve read the instructions and I’m not sure how long this will take. Should this cook for a few hours? I saw the crock pot but the recipe leads me to believe that once you brown meat and veggies and heat through, that’s all. Huh?

    1. Veronica – Are you sure you have the right recipe? This is not for the slow cooker. This is a stove top recipe and the time is in the instructions.

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious! I’ve been making this chili for over a year now and my whole family loves it! Thank you!

  7. Ashlee King says:

    Have found my new favourite website thanks for all of the great recipes can’t wait to start trying them out!

  8. Is it really 4 TABLESPOONS of cumin? I only had 2 1/2 and feel like its overpowering.

    1. Morgan – That’s what I used, but you don’t have to use that much if you feel it will be too much. I love cumin, so I tend to use a lot of it.

  9. 5 stars
    Just found your site last night, and spent hours reading & surfing through recipes. The turkey chili was one of the most fitting for our cold Kentucky weather and my family & I LOVE IT! Normally, I can’t even get my 7yo to eat regular chili let alone “clean,” but he had two bowls. I also didn’t add the vegetable bouillon cubes b/c I live in a small town and they didn’t have clean ones at Kroger. But, thank you so much and any suggestions for your recipes to help on my new weight loss/healthy “clean” journey would be very appreciated; for I don’t know which are good for weight loss and which or not. Yet, I assumed this was was. Thanks again for your “gracious”ness to share. God Bless, Shellie

    1. Shellie – All of my recipes will work for weight loss. The real trick is in how much you eat of them. And it may be best to stay clear of too many desserts as well. Other than that, if you keep it balanced and in proportion, any of them will work. 🙂

  10. When do I add in the beans?

  11. Do you know how many days this will last in the fridge? I want to make a pot for the boyfriend to eat while I’m gone for a week.

    1. Monica – If it’s stored below 41 degrees in the fridge, it can last up to 7 days. That being said, you should also go by smell and other signs of aging towards the end of that week. If you are worried, simply portion it out and freeze a few for the latter part of the week. It’s definitely good for 3-4 days.

  12. How do I freeze this? Do I cook everything ahead of time and then freeze in containers?

  13. Judy Bass says:

    Weather is getting ready for CHILI !!!! Can’t wait…. My recipe is much like yours,,,but I was raised on beef chili with NO beans.. LOL I have learned to use turkey/chicken, however, beans have a bad effect on us so I delete them. I saw a recipe for a broccoli cream soup that used a pureed cup of white beans for the cream. Does anyone know if that takes away the gaseous effect of the beans? Don’t mean to be asking such a question but I have to try to get in as much protein into out diet as possible.. Thank you all for listening and your time.

    1. Judy – The best way to get rid of gas in beans is to soak them from a dry state overnight. At least from everything I’ve read. That, and invest in some Beano! lol

  14. My first comment – I’m LOVING all your recipes! I started eating clean at the end of September and I feel amazing. Never going back!
    Anyway, do you think it would work to use vegetable broth (1 cup) in place of the water & bouillon cube? Thanks!!

    1. Ginger – Thanks! So glad you’re enjoying them! 😀 As for the broth, sure, it will work. The intensity of flavor may not be as strong, but it will work. 🙂

  15. Devin Hogue says:

    Do you happen to have the nutritional value s for this recipe?

  16. 5 stars
    This turkey chili recipe is really amazing. Thanks for sharing such an awesome blog.

  17. This looks delicious and can’t wait to try it this weekend! I love how you give such detail to every ingredient and why you use it. Your recipes are always so easy to follow, user-friendly and delicious!

    1. Nan – Thank you so much! 😀 I’m working on updating all my recipes, so over time, they will all have far more detail to each of them. Glad you like it! 😀

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