Cincinnati Inspired Chili

I can’t call this true Cincinnati chili for a couple of reasons. First of all, I just can’t bring myself to pile that much cheese on top of my chili (Exhibit A from our visit to Skyline Chili). And instead of cheddar – I like to use Colby Jack because it’s my fav. And finally, both Christopher and I like kidney beans so I go ahead and cook them in the chili instead of adding them on top. So as you can see, this isn’t truly Cincinnati Chili. But the flavors and spices are definitely inspired by it. I’ve been using this recipe from What’s Cooking America for several years and it has come out well every time I’ve made it.

Cincinnati Chili (2).JPG

Cincinnati Inspired Chili 


1 large onion, chopped
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans
1 (16 oz) package spaghetti noodles

Optional Toppings: Shredded Cheddar (or Colby Jack!) Cheese, Oyster Crackers,  and/or Chopped Onion.


1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onion, ground beef, garlic, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly cooked.

2. Add allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, unsweetened cocoa, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, and water.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour 30 minutes.  Remove from heat.

3. When the chili is about 20 minutes from being finished, begin to boil water for spaghetti. Cook spaghetti according to package directions and transfer onto individual serving plates (small oval plates are traditional).

4. Top spaghetti noodles with chili and cheese (as well as other additional toppings if desired).Cincinnati Chili (1).JPG

I love that Cincinnati chili is served over spaghetti noodles. We eat regular chili over pasta sometimes so that’s just feels like home to us. And I love how the cinnamon, cocoa powder, and allspice mingle together with the traditional chili spices to make such an awesome combination. Those sweet spices may not seem like they should belong in chili, but somehow Cincinnati chili just makes it work! 🙂

Have you had Cincinnati Chili?
Love Rach

31 responses to “Cincinnati Inspired Chili

  1. This looks great! I’ve never tried Cincinnati chili but this looks like a great introduction 🙂

    • It’s so yummy! I’ve had this recipe for so long that I can’t remember when I first heard of Cincinnati chili, but it has become a favorite of ours! 🙂

  2. I’ve never had chili made over noodles, but it sounds super good! I want to try this sometime. 🙂

    • You should! Even just a regular chili recipe over noodles is delicious! I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with combining chili with carbs. 🙂

  3. I’ve never had it, but I’m sure I’d love it. Chili is a HUGE hit in this house. 🙂 (The chili I make has cocoa powder in it too)!

    • Where did you get your chili recipe from?! I bet it is related to Cincinnati Chili in some way since it has the cocoa powder in it. Yum!

      • Now that you mention it, I think it’s a Southern Comfort type cookbook! It’s my favorite chili recipe, for sure. (And I love telling people that there’s cocoa powder in it. Up here in New England, that’s not very common, so everyone always gasps in surprise. Ha, ha). 🙂

  4. Looks hearty and delicious! I like that you took the inspiration but made it yours. 🙂

  5. Chili served with spaghetti? YUM! This looks really good!

  6. I have never had chili on top of noodles but I love the concept!! !

    • Girl, it’s delicious! I mean, it’s not so different than eating chili over other carbs (like fritos, cornbread, or saltines). It’s hard to go wrong with chili and carbs! 😉

  7. Your version sounds amazing! I literally found out about the skyline chili about five years ago and couldn’t believe that I had cocoa powder in it, what a perfect little hidden ingredients! I bet this is one of those heated up is even better chilis too.

  8. Ooo! This looks great! I’ve never had Cincinnati chili but we are definite chili lovers in this house! I’m saving this recipe 🙂

  9. Chili over pasta….you’re the second person I know who does this! I do it over rice or by itself. Go figure. Sounds yummy!

  10. Oh my goodness, I love Cincinnati Chili so hard. I fell in love with it when my Mom randomly tried out a recipe my senior year of high school. As fate would have it, a few years later I moved to the Cincinnati area and now I get to eat it ALL THE TIME. So unhealthy, so delicious!

    • Ah! How awesome! I love that you fell in love with a food and then got to live in that place later. Maybe that will work out for me with Italian food… 😉

  11. I’ve never seen chili over spaghetti! Yum!

    • It’s wonderful! I mean, I like chili paired with most any carb (fritos, cornbread, rice, etc) so eating it over spaghetti is just a natural win for me. 😉

  12. I love your food photos, so classy. This looks so tasty.

  13. This recipe sounds amazing! I hadn’t heard of chili over pasta before. We usually have it with bread or tortilla chips, but this looks delicious.

    • It’s hard to go wrong with serving chili with carbs! It’s good with crackers, cornbread, bread, tortilla chips, fritos, rice, and pasta! Just delicious all around! I’ve even had it with quinoa and it was delicious! 🙂

  14. I like this! It’s a Rach and Christopher-inspired Cincinnati chili 🙂

  15. Pingback: Friday Things 7/14/17 – Beach & Busch Gardens

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