Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style)

Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style), inspired by the Kiradjeff family recipe, which claims to have created this local chili style.

Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style)

Copycat Empress Chili Coney Dog (Cincinnati Style)

By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

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Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style) is my recipe of the day with the blogging group From Our Dinner Table. Each week, a new topic is scheduled for us to create a new recipe for you to enjoy. This week we are sharing chili recipes. Glad you could  join us!

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Bowl of Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style)

Chili with a History

Empress Chili is one of the many chili parlors claiming to have created Cincinnati Chili. The parlor itself dates back one hundred years. And features a proprietary recipe created by brothers Tom and John Kiradjieff, Macedonian immigrants to the United States.

As of this year, only one Empress parlor remains in the Kentucky/Ohio metro with the remaining chili being packaged for grocery store sales.

What’s in Cincinnati Chili?

The chili itself has Macedonian/Greek roots, so some of those flavors will be present. There seem to be a few variations. Most have cinnamon and allspice in flavorful amounts. Some may add chocolate as a flavor component. Contrary to what  you have  heard, nutmeg is really not a part of the spice mix. Not saying someone hasn’t made that, but it is not garden variety.

This recipe has no chocolate and holds close to cinnamon and allspice which offer depth of taste without being flavor forward with those spices.

The texture is small with the meat, and has a more runny texture than thick chili. Not so runny that it is not good on coneys, but also thin enough to pass as a pasta sauce. It’s a fine line.

From Our Dinner Table

Best Chili Recipes

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Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style)

Popular ways to serve Cincinnati Chili:


  • 3-Way: Hot Plate of Spaghetti smothered in chili and topped with finely grated cheddar cheese.
  • 4-Way: 3-Way but also adding either chili beans or onions.
  • 5-Way: 3-Way but with BOTH chili beans and onions.

Cheese Coneys:

  • Mini chili dogs (half size) with chili, cheese, and optional mustard and onions.

Chili-Cheese Potato:

  • Baked potato topped with chili and cheese.

Copycat Empress Chili Hot Dog (Cincinnati Style)

Chili with Beans and Spaghetti

Texans will tell you that beans don’t belong in chili. No problem with that here, so Texas can chill. Beans are an optional  topping in a 4-Way or 5-Way, the famous style of serving chili on pasta. Chili-mac style.

However,  beans and spaghetti don’t make the chili. It is often served without, either in a bowl, or on a coney. Yet, the cheese is de rigeur. Well, you “could” leave it off, but who would want to?

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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.

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Chili Cheese Dog Egg Rolls

Crispy chili cheese dog egg rolls are way easier to  make than corn dogs and can be perfect for party appetizers or game day eats.

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Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili is made in a crock pot with a bit of healthy beta-carotene filled pumpkin added as an October surprise.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

5-Way Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti Squash Boats

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Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style)

While this chili is made in the Instant Pot, you can easily adapt it for top cooking.

Brown and drain beef and add remaining ingredients. Simmer gently for 45 minutes to an hour.

Click stars in the recipe card to rate.

Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style)

Sue Lau
!click stars to rate this recipe!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Greek
Servings 4
Calories 836 kcal


  • Food Processor
  • 1 Instant pot (electric pressure cooker)


  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 ounces yellow onion minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon beef base
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Optional Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 hot dogs
  • 4 hot dog buns
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup minced onion


  • Brown beef in Instant Pot with salt and pepper using the saute function.
  • Remove beef, draining off fat and pulse 4-5 times in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.
  • Place beef back in Instant Pot.
  • Put the onion into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add onion to the Instant Pot along with everything (except optional ingredients).
  • Place lid on cooker and seal the vent. Use the manual setting and cook for fifteen minutes on high/pressure.
  • After cooking use the quick release and open when steam has dissipated.
  • For cheese coneys, use optional ingredients or refer to blog post for other ideas if you like.


From the kitchen of


Calories: 836kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 45gFat: 51gSaturated Fat: 23gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 158mgSodium: 2176mgPotassium: 970mgFiber: 5gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 2194IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 563mgIron: 7mg
Keyword Chili recipes, Instant Pot Recipes
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Copycat Empress Chili (Cincinnati Style)

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One response

  1. This chili looks and sounds very good. I need to go to the store soon and will add a few things I need to make it.
    Thanks for posting it!

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