Cincinnati is known for many things, including its famous chili. While it may seem odd to some, Cincinnati chili is a unique style of chili that has been a staple in the city for over 90 years. It’s not your typical chili, with its sweet and savory blend of spices and the addition of spaghetti, cheese, and onions. But once you try it, you’ll understand why it’s so beloved.
The origins of Cincinnati chili can be traced back to the early 20th century when Macedonian immigrant Tom Kiradjieff began serving a unique meat sauce over spaghetti in his small restaurant. This sauce was a blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spices, including cinnamon, allspice, and clove, and it quickly became a hit among locals.
Over the years, Cincinnati chili has evolved and been adapted by various restaurants and chains, but the basic recipe remains the same. The chili is typically made with ground beef, tomato sauce, and a unique blend of spices. It’s then served over spaghetti and topped with shredded cheddar cheese and diced onions.
If you’ve never tried Cincinnati chili before, you’re in for a treat. It’s hearty, comforting, and packed with flavor. And the best part? It’s easy to make at home. In this blog post, we’ll share an authentic Cincinnati chili recipe that you can make in your own kitchen. So grab your apron and get ready to enjoy a bowl of one of Cincinnati’s most beloved dishes.
How to Make Cincinnati Chili
The best Cincinnati chili recipe is chock-full of ground beef and warm, savory spices served over spaghetti with cheddar cheese and all the fixins!
Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 pounds 80% fat ground beef
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 ½ medium-sized yellow onions , finely chopped and divided
- 5 garlic cloves , pressed or minced
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce , (not marinara sauce)
- 2 bay leafs
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- 4 cups mild or medium yellow cheddar cheese , finely shredded
- 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans , drained and rinsed
- oyster crackers , for serving
- Add the beef broth and ground beef to a Dutch oven or stockpot and bring to a boil, using a wooden spatula or spoon to break up the meat into little pieces. Once boiling, cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a separate skillet over medium and add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot, add 1 cup of chopped onion and sauté, stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chili powder, cinnamon, cocoa powder, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, kosher salt, cumin, and pepper, stirring well to evenly combine, and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and bay leaf, stirring well, and bring to a boil then add to the pot with the beef. Stir in the apple cider vinegar then simmer over medium-low for at least 1 hour up to two. Spoon off excess oil as needed.
- You can either eat the chili immediately or refrigerate it. If refrigerating, you can scrape the fat cap off before reheating or leave it as is.
- When ready to serve, or while the chili finishes cooking (during the last 10 minutes), bring a large pot filled with water to a boil. Once boiling, salt the water generously (like the sea) and add your spaghetti. Cook until al dente and drain.
- To serve, divide spaghetti into bowls, and top with chili, shredded cheese, beans, reserved chopped onion, and oyster crackers.
*If you don’t care for raw onion on top of your chili, just use 1 onion in this recipe.
Calories: 747kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 1125mg | Potassium: 671mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1462IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 462mg | Iron: 4mg