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Cincinnati Chili recipes?

Just reading the midwest board debating where to get the best Cincinnati chili: my Ohio-born man waxes eloquent about good 5-way Cincinnati chili, and asked if I could get a recipe for his next poker night.

For the uninitiated, Cincinnati chili is not that typical bowl of spicy beans -- it's a spicy meat gravy topping for spaghetti. Depending on what you add (beans, cheese, chopped onion, etc.) it becomes 3-way, 4-way, 5-way... seems to me I heard something about crushed saltines in there too.

I'd hate to think it was something as simple as browning ground beef, stirring in chili powder and water. Whatcha got fer me, Hounds?

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  1. You are probably going to get some great recipes from expert locals, so I won't bother to try to write down the method I use to make Cincinnati chili in Pennsylvania!

    But I can tell you that during the year we spent in Cincy for business, my husband and I came to really enjoy the chili. If you search online for Goldstar Chili you'll find recipes from customers who believe they've duplicated the recipe and any one of them is probably a good place to start.

    The key ingredients are chocolate and cinnamon. But serving it over spaghetti with finely shredded cheddar and a drizzle of hot sauce is also critical!

    1. I guess this is not of any help really, but I think it can be on the sweeter side rather than spicy. I recall some recipes having cinnamon as an ingredient..

      1. I haven't made it but saw an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they made Cincinnati chili. You should be able to find the recipe on their website and then check to see how it meshes with other online recipes.

        It should definitely have cinnamon and maybe even cocoa powder in it and should be very loose. Never seen the saltines, but some of the locals I've eaten with at Skyline when I was in Cincy for work crushed oyster crackers on top of their 3-ways.

        1. The Joy of Cooking has a good Cincy recipe. I can't remember if there's cocoa in it, but there's definitely cinnamon.
          Hmmm...I think I'm going to make some this weekend!

          1. You will find many recipes for Cincinnati chili on the web. If you want to achieve the true texture of the real item, however, make sure you cook the ground beef in broth, rather than browning it in a frying pan, as you would typically do for other forms of chili. I'd also suggest you prepare the chili the day before you intend to serve it, so that you can refrigerate the boiled beef, which allows you to easily remove the fat before you serve the dish.

            1. Rita, I have just what you want, I think. We used to live right near Cincy and grew to love the chili. This recipe http://recipecircus.com/recipes/Kimbe... is really, really good. I found it, oddly enough in a Southern Living magazine, but it is the real deal. We have made it a LOT, so it is definitely tried and true.

              1. I made it just after I got back from Cinci. I used a recipe that called for the meat to be fried. I was told later that you boil the meat. So I know for next time. The thing is, the stuff turned out great. My suggestion is find one that seems good and use it as a starting point. If hubby wants more cinamon, next time add a little more. You'll get it right after a few batches. By most accounts it has cocoa in it. I used it and it makes a difference.


                1. I really like the recipe in Cook's Illustrated Soups and Stews, but I do cut the acidity down a bit.

                  1. The best recipe we have found is from The Frugal Goumet Cooks American. It was published in 1987. It is so close to the Skyline brand.

                    It is eaten with oyster crackers, not saltines.

                    1. I use the following recipe which was developed, if I recall correctly, by an "expert food taster" who specializes in "decoding" famous restaurant recipes:

                      Cincinnati Chili
                      Lynda Nestelle
                      BEEF, GROUND, 5 lbs lean, chili grind
                      VINEGAR, 2 T
                      LIQUID BEEF STOCK BASE, 2 T + 3 C water (OR BEEF BROTH)
                      TOMATO PASTE, 0.5 C + 1 T
                      ONION POWDER, 1 T
                      GARLIC POWDER, 2 T
                      SUGAR, 2 T
                      SALT, 2 T
                      BLACK PEPPER, 0.25 t ground
                      CINNAMON, 2 T ground
                      COCOA, 1 T unsweetened
                      CAYENNE PEPPER, 1 -2 t
                      OREGANO, 1 T ground
                      CARDAMOM, 1 T ground
                      CORIANDER, 1 T ground
                      CUMIN, 0.75 t ground
                      CLOVE, 0.75 t ground
                      THYME, 0.5 t ground
                      TARRAGON, 0.5 t ground
                      ALLSPICE, 0.5 t ground
                      In a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, combine the ground beef, vinegar, beef broth or beef stock base with water, tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir to combine. Lower the heat to low and cover. Cook for 9 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, and stir in the cinnamon, cocoa, cayenne pepper, oregano, cardamom, coriander, cumin, cloves, thyme, tarragon and allspice. Cook over low heat for one additional hour. The chili can be served at once or frozen for up to four months (to remove any excess fat, refrigerate the chili for several hours or overnight; then, remove and discard the opaque solidified fat with a spoon).
                      Cincinnati Chili Choices:
                      1-Way: by itself
                      2-Way: over spaghetti
                      3-Way: over spaghetti and topped with grated cheddar cheese
                      4-Way: over spaghetti and topped with grated cheddar cheese and chopped onion
                      5-Way: over spaghetti and topped with grated cheddar cheese, chopped onion, cooked beans (such as kidney or small red chili beans) and oyster crackers

                      And here's a picture of how it looks:


                      1. You gotta have cocoa and cinnamon. The recipies look good but I gree that Frugal Gourmet has best copy. Frugal Cooks American.

                        I love Cincinnati chili. YOu will love it whe youdo a recipe.


                        1. You forgot about having it over those mini-hot dogs. Coney Dog style.

                          1. the "saltines" are oyster crackers, stirred in when served by the one eating.

                            1. I adore Cooks Illustrated's recipe.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Becca Porter

                                Btw, Cooks Country's version is not as good.

                              2. The July 1999 issue of Cincinnati magazine was dedicated to Cincinnati Chili. Here's an online link in Google Books:




                                1. My Columbus-native husband swears that this is the recipe Skyline uses... I think it's better than Skyline!