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.

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

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.

(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.

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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.
5 from 23 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 11 servings
Calories: 224kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!

Equipment

  • Medium to large pot

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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.

Nutrition

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.

Image depicting 5-star rating. Image text says, Love this recipe? Give it a star rating in a comment below.

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74 Comments

  1. Honey B. Nutrition says:

    5 stars
    Love the recipe, as always!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Honey – Thanks! Hope you enjoy it!

  2. Amy at TheSceneFromMe says:

    Yummy!
    And cornbread is the perfect thing to go with it. I had the best skillet cornbread last weekend in Arizona while on vacation!
    Delicious, thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Amy – You’re welcome! Hope you enjoy it!

  3. 5 stars
    Wow. This is the first recipe I’ve tried if yours and I will definitely be trying more! This is delicious!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Gretchen – Fantastic! So happy you enjoyed it! It’s great for these cold winter nights!

  4. Roseann Smith says:

    5 stars
    Wow. This is the first recipe I’ve tried if yours and I will definitely be trying more! This is delicious!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Roseann – Fabulous! I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

  5. 5 stars
    This was a total success!! I have now replaced beef mince for turkey mince in all my recipes. This made super tasty nachos!! 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Natasha – Fabulous!! Those are the only nachos we eat around here! Yum!

  6. Katherine says:

    Help! My chili is too watery…what did I do wrong? I am going to let it simmer on the stove top, in hopes that it reduces down some…any advice?

    Thanks

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Katherine – Oh dear! Unless something was mis-measured, I’m not sure what could have happened. You can certainly try boiling it down a bit, but you don’t want the meat to get rubbery either, so keep an eye on it. Let me know what happens!

  7. Serise C. Lange says:

    First comment here… but my gluten-free spidey senses were tingling. I would definitely make this.

    Gotta add this to the grocery list for this week, I think — been craving some chili but all the ready made chilis at the store are not GF 🙁 but this can be!!! woo, thank you so much!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Serise – thanks for the comment! I think you’ll like this. It’s a staple around here during the winter, but no reason not to enjoy it during the summer too!

  8. GroffsGirl says:

    I am making this tonight for our dinner! Also going to make stuffed sweet potatoes to go along side (a recipe from Oxygen)! Cannot wait to have this yummy meal!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      GroffsGirl – That’s awesome!!! Let me know how you like it!

  9. The Gracious Pantry says:

    Dnl – You can certainly brown the meat. I break my meat up in the last hour of cooking, so it’s never an issue. I just never take the time to do that. But definitely an option!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Laurafine – Sure!

  11. Anonymous says:

    JenGalietti – I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

  12. Sherrette says:

    5 stars
    I made this for my family last night and it was cantstopshovelingitintomymouth YUMMM!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Sherrette – LOL!!!! Love that! Glad you all enjoyed it so much!

  13. graciouspantry says:

    Fantastic! Glad you enjoyed it!

  14. graciouspantry says:

    My pleasure! Enjoy!

  15. graciouspantry says:

    Wonderful! So glad you enjoyed it!

  16. graciouspantry says:

    Not sure what you mean. I just freeze the leftovers.

  17. Definitely not enough beans for me in this recipe. Would have to amp those up a few cans.

    1. graciouspantry says:

      That’s fine. It’s easy enough to add them. 🙂

  18. graciouspantry says:

    Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  19. graciouspantry says:

    Depends on how much you brown it. You can check it after 4-5 hours to see how it’s progressing.

  20. graciouspantry says:

    Awesome! Hope you enjoy it!

  21. graciouspantry says:

    Yup! But feel free to use less and add to taste. Enjoy!

  22. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe and so quick and easy to make. Its been quite cold here in DC with all the snow and wind so I made this for dinner tonight. I put a bit of cheddar cheese, sour cream and a few slices of avocado on it too. It was incredibly delicious. Thanks for keeping the great recipes coming. I LOVE your website.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  23. Mike Grant says:

    5 stars
    While waiting for the blizzard to come I decided to try your Turkey Chili recipe. I made one change; I replaced the cup of water with a cup of beer. I just had some for lunch and it was delicious. Thank you for all your great recipes. I can’t wait to come in after shoveling and sit by the fire with a bowl of Turkey Chili.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Haha! That’s a first! Not terribly clean, but it does sound yummy! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  24. Shantalle says:

    Quick question, I was under the assumption that bouillon cubes were not clean. When I read the ingredients they sure don’t look clean neither. Which kind are you using? Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      I use the Rapunzel brand that I get at Whole Foods. You can also find it on Amazon.

  25. What is the best way to freeze this? In what sort of container? And what is the best way to thaw?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      I freeze in plastic containers with lids and defrost for a full day in the fridge.

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