Make Ahead

Best Ever Turkey Chili

May 15, 2011
10 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
Author Notes

I don’t mean to be cocky, but this chili really is the best ever (at least the best I've ever made). And it's dirt cheap! While beef is usually my protein of choice for this purpose, it’s expensive here in Israel. So I decided to give leaner, cheaper turkey chili a whirl -- and I got to watch as they freshly ground the turkey breast for me at the shuk.

I’ve made a decent amount of chili in my day: We usually make it at least once a year and have been known to host a chili party. It’s the perfect cold weather comfort food, and when I was home in New York in December I couldn’t seem to get enough of it. I usually make a decent chili, but I can get a little heavy-handed. I add too much jalapeño or beer or cinnamon. But this time, everything was in perfect harmony -- the ingredients balanced each other to create a hearty, highly satisfying chili. Also, for the first time I measured and wrote down ingredients as I went instead of haphazardly throwing things in the pot. Which means, lucky for me, I can recreate this again.

This is a fairly mild chili, but it can be easily spiced up with jalapeño peppers (I just forgot to get them). Enjoy it with a cold beer -- the Leffe I cooked with was a perfect complement, although a cheaper beer would be just as good! —kmartinelli

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Kmartinelli is a food and travel writer who has spent the past three years in Be’er Sheva, Israel.
WHAT: A good reason to break out your thermos.
HOW: Sauté and season red pepper, onion, and garlic. Add ground turkey and, when it's nice and brown, some dark beer. Pour in a can of tomatoes, a can of beans, and hot sauce, then let the chili simmer until it’s thick (we recommend making a baked potato in the meantime). Top with all the fixings.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The amount of STUFF in chili can sometimes make for an overwhelming eating experience, but not in this case. This recipe makes careful choices about the meat (turkey), beans (kidney), and spices (paprika, coriander, oregano, and cinnamon), which means you can adjust the heat however you’d like (and add toppings aplenty). —The Editors

  • Serves 4
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 cup dark beer, such as Leffe Brown
  • one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • one 15 1/2-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce or chile paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream, chopped chives, cilantro, and/or shredded cheese, for topping
In This Recipe
  1. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the tomato paste, onion, garlic, and red pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the chili powder, hot paprika, coriander, oregano, and cinnamon; stir and allow to cook until aromatic, 1 minute.
  2. Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until lightly browned. Pour in the beer and allow to cook down slightly.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beans, and hot sauce or chili paste.
  4. Allow the chili to simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with sour cream, chopped chives, cilantro, and/or shredded cheese.
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A native New Yorker, I recently moved to Be'er Sheva, Israel with my husband while he completes medical school. I am a freelance food and travel writer and photographer who is always hungry and reads cookbooks in bed.