It’s All About the Chili

I had no idea when we moved to Cincinnati that chili would be such a

big deal.

It always seemed western to me,  and  southern – southwestern southern, but never eastern.

So, imagine my surprise when we moved in and discovered that not only is chile a big deal, but that Cincinnati has it’s own

famous chili.

I even found a recipe for Cincinnati Chili in my Taste of Home Cookbook!  There are chili fast food restaurants – Skyline is probably the most famous, but there’s also Gold Star, Empress Chili, and Dixie Chili  not to mention all the smaller non-chain chili restaurants.

There is even an entry in Wikipedia devoted entirely to Cincinnati chili.

What makes it so UNIQUE?

Well, it usually includes cinnamon, cloves or allspice (on occasion), and most notably – CHOCOLATE.

Yup! Chocolate!

I make my Cincinnati chili with a good dose of cocoa powder. It gives it a unique rich flavor that you either love or hate. Or maybe you hate to love.

There are a few other unique aspects –

You haven’t truly had a Cincinnati chili experience until you eat your chili served over


with a HUGE  helping of grated

cheddar cheese

on top.

You can order it other ways, but you might be considered an outcast. Friends and Co-workers were absolutely scandalized when they found out we had never had chili served on spaghetti before.

When people are talking about having a two-way, three-wayfour-way, or a five-way here, it’s all about the


It’s like a secret code – if you don’t know the hidden meaning you can get into A LOT of trouble.  I’ll break it down for you:

First there’s a bowl – you can order just a bowl of chili – kinda boring – but you can do it.

Then you can order a two-way – that would be chili and spaghetti

Three-way = chili, spaghetti, & cheese

Four-way= chili, spaghetti, cheese, & onions

Five-way= chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans (Cincinnati chili is traditionally made without beans, unless you’re going for the four-way – or request them.  Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you…  hey! in my defense I have kids!)

Now if you come visit me in Cincinnati you won’t


when hearing such scandalous terms flung around.

Finally, there’s the ever so popular


That would be a hotdog in a bun topped with chili – and even more popular is the cheesy coney – with – you guessed it –

CHEESE beautiful CHEESE! 

So you realize just how important cheese is to chili out here I will include a picture….

See what I mean?


Wallace (from Wallace & Grommit) would be in heaven here!

A few other chili tidbits – oyster crackers are a MUST, hot sauce is ALWAYS served on the side, and regular coneys are served with mustard and onions too.

So, now that you’re prepared for a visit…


okay, well at least let me give you the Cincinnati chili recipe I use – don’t forget the spaghetti & cheese! They are VERY important. (though, you do know it won’t taste as good unless your eating it with me in Cincinnati, right?)

2 pounds of ground beef

4 chopped onions

6 minced garlic cloves – don’t be afraid to use powdered garlic should you be out of garlic cloves – it works just fine

2 cans of red beans, rinsed and drained (now, if you’re not a bean lover, then leave them out and up the beef)

1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup baking cocoa powder

chili powder (however you like it)

2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

4 tsp cinnamon (I don’t usually put measurements on the spices because I figure that’s what TASTING is for – measurements are really more like guidelines anyway (think Pirates) and adjust away)

3 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground allspice

2 tsp hot sauce

3 bay leaves

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper if you want it – but I usually never add it

Hot cooked spaghetti

Shredded cheddar cheese (and if you’re feeling daring, sour cream (yum!), chopped tomatoes, and chopped onion – green or white, whatever you’ve got)

1) cook the meat, onions, & garlic – dutch oven, pot, frying pan – whatever (I use a frying pan because I’m a crock pot girl)

2) Add everything else and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1-1/2 hrs or until heated through OR fling everything in a crockpot and let it sit all day. (just don’t forget to turn the crockpot on – that would be BAD)

3)Loose the bay leaves (kids ALWAYS get SO stressed over leaves floating in their soup – ha ha).  Serve your marvelous chili over spaghetti and throw buckets of cheese on top. And the other stuff too, if you want.

This recipe only makes 8 servings – SO,  I – having a large family ALWAYS double it and sometimes triple it. HAVE FUN!!!

And why did I make this post today?

Why it’s the Trunk or Treat & Chili cook off tonight!

What was that?

Am I making Cincinnati chili?



Not this time. I decided on my favorite white chicken chili – I’ll give you the recipe for that one another time.


(or maybe I’ll just stick it in the comments if you REALLY want it)

p.s. I never actually made chili from scratch until I moved to Cincinnati! My first me made chili was Cincinnati Chili and now, I am a chili making fiend…. thought I’d warn y’all. (I have no idea how that accent slipped in there, honest)


Filed under Food

8 responses to “It’s All About the Chili

  1. That blew my mind, chili on spaghetti. Who would have thought there could be so much craziness out there? I may have to try it that way just to mess with my kids.

  2. So… add carbs and fat? No way that could go wrong!!! I may have to try this one. My husband is a PICKY eater and only eats Nalley’s Thick chili, so maybe I’ll do it next time I know in advance that he’s working late so he has an excuse for not eating it. If we love it then I’ll make him try it. (We try to hide his pickiness from our girls so I try new things when he’s not home so they can’t blame the fact that he’s not eating it for them not eating it. If it’s fabulous then we eat it again WITH daddy and he eats a bit. Life is so complicated *sigh*


  3. According to my family, it’s Skyline or nothing. (My Paul was born in Cincinnatti, did you know?) I will definitely be trying your recipe on him to see what he says! 🙂

  4. Love it! Love chili & what?!? People eat chili without spaghetti – never! Thought of you guys last weekend while on our fall break getaway to Great Wolf Lodge – we really are going to get together someday. I’d love to try your chili ; )

  5. Heather

    Cincinnati chili IS a weird thing! I’m not from around here and my “visiting” family hates the stuff! I’d never EVER eaten (or heard of) chili with spaghetti before meeting my husband (who IS from here). We made a version of it together when we were first dating and he told me to grate the cheese for it. Cheese on chili is also something I’d never had. He kept telling me to grate more, more, more… I finally looked at him and said “there are only two of us”! Cincinnatians really DO love their cheese on the chili. Anyway, I would love the white chicken chili recipe you made Friday (and so would my sister). I voted it my favorite at the cook-off and considering it was THE WINNER I was in good company:) Congratulations!

  6. Thanks, Heather! The white chicken chili recipe is up in my recipe section – “What’s for Dinner” at the top above my “Fun & Flawed” header.

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