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  • Writer's pictureStephanie

Cincinnati Chili Recipe

On cold winter nights growing up, my mom would fill the house with smells of chocolate, chili, and pasta as she whipped up Cincinnati Chili, heaped on spaghetti noodles with cheese, beans, and onions. She got the recipe from a friend of hers who lived in the midwest. If you've heard of Cincinnati Chili, you might have had Skyline Chili in Ohio. This is not that. This is lite and so flavorful.

This is one of my favorite things to eat, and it was one of my mom's favorites too. In her last few months when she was sick, we needed to get her to eat so we talked to her about her favorite foods and narrowed her favorites down to Cincinnati Chili, Chick-fil-A ice cream, and Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake. This was one of the last things she ever ate, and I can tell you that is a big deal for a food-lover like her.

Recently, I was inspired to dig into her recipe book - and found this beautiful hand-written recipe. It's full of spices, which is why the chili has so much flavor. They're all equally important, so don't skip anything! I'm not usually a recipe-follower, but this is one that has been edited and tweaked to perfection.

Here's a more straight-forward version of the recipe. Enjoy!


Sauce ingredients

1 lb ground beef

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves

1 cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 cup water

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 dry bay leaf, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon mace

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon salt

Spaghetti and toppings ingredients

16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti

1 can kidney beans

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 cup grated cheddar cheese


Brown ground beef with onions and garlic.

Add tomato sauce, ketchup, water, and red wine vinegar.

When the mixture boils, add all other ingredients.

Simmer for 1 hour.

Add more tomato juice if more liquid is needed.

When sauce is almost finished cooking, boil water and cook 16 ounces of whole wheat spaghetti, and heat kidney beans.

To assemble each dish:

  • Add 2-3 ounces of spaghetti to plate

  • Cover with Cincinnati Chili sauce

  • Add kidney beans, chopped onions, and grated cheddar

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