Crockpot Cincinnati Chili

Crockpot Cincinnati Chili cooks up the distinctive style of chili in your crock pot to put atop a pile of spaghetti buried in cheese.
Crockpot Cincinnati Chili

Crockpot Cincinnati Chili

by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

Since moving to Cincinnati from Dayton Ohio a couple months ago, I have been eager to post about one of my favorite hometown foods: Cincinnati chili. I have been making it for years as well as noshing on 5-way chili when we go out to any of our favorite chili establishments here. This week I am  celebrating hometown favorite foods, and I am quite pleased to bring you this recipe, which I know you will enjoy.

Browning Beef for Chili
Now that said, this is a chili that will put every Texan over the edge when the subject of chili is brought up. And we here in the ‘Nati are fully aware of it, and cannot help but wonder what has our Texas friends so uptight and defensive about it. We do know how proud they are of their chili. But guess what?  Natives of the ‘Nati are proud as well. 😉
Chili Beef in the Crock

Cincinnati Chili Spice Dump
This, after all, is not a typical chili, but one born of Greek flavors and sensibilities. It is not meant to taste like a Texas bowl of red, not meant to be compared. They are two quite different animals, and each deserves to be taken on their own merit. And as Mediterranean-come-Middle Eastern food is concerned, Cincinnati chili tastes exactly right. Each chili for its own purpose and place, and nobody need feel threatened that one will displace the other. The world, as we know it, chili lovers, needs all the chili we can muster!
Cincinnati Chili Spice Dump
Cincinnati chili was born in the ‘Nati, made by an immigrant from Kastoria Greece who came to the city and subsequently worked as a cook at Empress Chili, a long time Cincinnati establishment.  At some point, Nicholas Lambrinides, the immigrant, opened his own  restaurant serving chili using the recipe he developed that reflected his Greek culinary heritage, That restaurant, Skyline Chili, was so named because it was located on a ridge that overlooked the city of Cincinnati, which rolls with scattered hills near the Ohio river, near Kentucky and Indiana.

Since that time, in 1949, the chili has been oft duplicated (even by myself right here) and enjoyed by many.

Cincinnati Chili in the Crock
There are many ways to serve Cincinnati chili, as I am sure you have heard. There is the 3-way, 4-way, 5-way, and now even a 6-way (following Guy Fieri’s visit to Blue Ash chili for his show Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives, which tops the spaghetti with another final ingredient: deep-fried jalapeno pepper rings). But I will sum the ways up for you here, so you can enjoy this any way you wish:

3-Way: Chili, cheese and spaghetti

4-Way: a 3-Way with onions or beans added

5-Way: a 4-way with onions and beans

6-Way: a 5-way with topped with crispy jalapeno coins

Here in the ‘Nati we don’t even stop there. Try Cincinnati chili inside a tortilla to make a burrito, on top of a loaded baked potato, on top of Coney dogs, on French fries for chili-cheese fries, over omelets or hash browns at breakfast, or simply in a bowl without the noodles altogether.

And to top all of it off, serve any of this with the traditional oyster crackers and Franks hot sauce for the full effect.

Whichever way you like it, I am sure you will enjoy this recipe, even if you’re a down home Texan. (if you’d just give it a try!)


Crockpot Cincinnati Chili

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Crockpot Cincinnati Chili


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mild paprika
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 28 fluid ounces tomato puree
  • 1-1/2 cups beef broth
  • 16 ounces thin spaghetti or vermicelli, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups dark red kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • oyster crackers (optional)
  • Frank’s hot pepper sauce (optional)


  1. Brown beef in a skillet with the onion, celery, red bell pepper, and garlic until cooked and crumbly; drain off any excess fat.
  2. Place meat into the crock.
  3. Stir together the chili powder, sugar, paprika, cocoa, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, salt, pepper, cloves and ground red pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle over meat in the crock.
  4. Add vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, and beef broth to the crock and stir until mixed.
  5. Cover crock and cook on low for 8 hours, skimming off fat as it rises to the top and stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve chili on a bed of spaghetti with desired toppings or other presentation you choose.
  7. Serve with oyster crackers and hot sauce if you like.

From the kitchen of

Crockpot Cincinnati Chili

You might also like:

Hearty Beef and Chorizo Chili

Vegan Mushroom Pumpkin Chili

Homemade Chili Powder

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34 responses

  1. This is one of those dishes that as we drive through Ohio (Im a Michigan girl) I always want to stop and try, but never have. I am going to make up a pot and finally know what Ive been missing. Yum!

  2. There used to be a restaurant here, Skyline Chili. It was the only place we could get delicious Cincinnati Chili. Now there’s Hard Times. But, this recipe looks super tasty and I won’t have to go out for good Cincy chili. YUM!

  3. Well, I am a native Texan and I love Cincinnati Chili! I also love a good Texas bowl o’ red, but I say they can peacefully coexist! Along with New Mexico’s pork chili – that stuff is delicious too. I’ll admit to still being a bit fuzzy about how all the numbered ways to order it works, but I think it’s so yummy. I love that you made yours in the slow cooker!

  4. Made this delicious chili today in my crockpot. Loved the idea of serving this thick and hearty chili on top of spaghetti noodles. Nancy : )

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