Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

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

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili is my recipe of the day with the blogging group Soup Swappers. We get together monthly to post our fav soup and stew recipes as a group, based on topic. Today we are sharing chili recipes to get ready for chili month.

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Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Since moving to Cincinnati from Dayton Ohio a few years ago now ago, I have become a huge fan of the local foodie favorite: 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.

Cincinnati  Chili  Spices:

Cincinnati Chili Spice Dump

  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cocoa
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Allspice
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ground Cloves

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!

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

History of Cincinnati Chili:

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.

The Ways of Cincinnati Chili

This is a chili that will bring up a bit of controversy as to whether spaghetti or beans belongs with chili. But  let’s be perfectly clear: serving  this chili that way  is only one way of many ways. It is perfectly acceptable to eat  this naked in  a bowl. Perhaps with a splash  of Louisiana hot  pepper sauce and a few oyster cracks.

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:

  • 1-way: Naked Bowl  of chili, no beans, no nuttin’ (but meat in chili  sauce)

  • 2-Way: Chili with cheese or chili with  spaghetti

  • 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!)

Soup Swappers

Getting Ready for  National Chili Day


Other Cincinnati Recipes You might also like:

Heirloom and Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula (Maisonette Restaurant)

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula is a simple and delicious recipe from the former Maisonette restaurant of Cincinnati.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula

Chicken Schnitzel with Dunkelweizen Sauce (Mecklenburg Gardens Restaurant)

Chicken Schnitzel with Dunkelweizen Sauce tops crisp schnitzel chicken with a lemony artichoke-caper sauce flavored with German Dunkelweizen beer.

Chicken Schnitzel with Dunkelweizen Sauce

Hanky Panky (Retro Cincinnati Local)

Hanky Panky is a traditionally Cincinnati style appetizer with  meat and cheese  on  toast that  is  also  sometimes called a Polish Mistake.

Hanky Panky

Sauerkraut Cabbage Rolls (St. Augustine’s  Church; Waynesville Ohio)

Sauerkraut Cabbage Rolls, made in  a slow cooker,  are styled after the cabbage rolls made at the Waynesville Ohio Sauerkraut Festival.

Sauerkraut Cabbage Rolls

Green Lantern Pizza (Dewey’s Pizza from Cincinnati Metro/Oakley)

Vegetarian pizza with red sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, artichokes, mushrooms, pesto and garlic.

Green Lantern Pizza

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Sue Lau
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 612 kcal


  • 1 slow cooker


For the 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

For the 5-Way:

  • 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)


  • Brown beef in a skillet with the onion, celery, red bell pepper, and garlic until cooked and crumbly; drain off any excess fat.
  • Place meat into the slow cooker.
  • Add the chili powder, sugar, paprika, cocoa, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, salt, pepper, cloves and ground red pepper to the meat, stirring to mix.
  • Stir in the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, and beef broth and stir again.
  • Cover cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Serve chili on a bed of spaghetti with desired toppings or other presentation you choose.
  • Serve with oyster crackers and hot sauce if you like.


From the kitchen of


Calories: 612kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 45gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 681mgPotassium: 1346mgFiber: 9gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 2149IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 286mgIron: 8mg
Keyword Cincinnati recipes, Greek-American recipes
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Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

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This post has been  updated from January 18, 2015 to reflect new photography.

30 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 : )

    • Last time I posted the cheese melted when I was taking pictures. *rofl* I made sure I avoided that this time. I grated the block cheese in the food processor with the fine shred disk so it has the proper height like Skyline. It is a cheese bomb.

  5. Sounds amazing and spot on flavors! I would love to make a vegetarian version of the same and would it with spaghetti or as such! YUM!

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