Turkey Chili with White Beans

It’s cold and rainy here in Texas, and it has me in the mood for chili! (And of course, by cold, I mean 60 degrees – brrrr!) I made and froze some cornbread a few weeks ago, and it will be just the thing to serve with chili for an easy meal. 

I have made this recipe for years, ever since having it at my Portland neighbor Stacy’s house. She served it over rice, which I think is such a great way to have a complete meal in a bowl.


I love how flexible it is – I usually use turkey, but beef can substituted. And although the original recipe calls for white beans, my boys prefer black beans, so I make it with those or a mixture.

I also love the intrigue of a secret ingredient, and this one has two. First, a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder – doesn’t chocolate make everything better? And second, some cinnamon. Nobody will be able to put their finger on what it is, but trust me, it’s delicious.

The recipe has been adapted from Epicurious.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey (or beef)
1/4 cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (or crushed if your gang doesn’t like chunks)
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed, drained (or black, pinto, kidney… you get the idea)

Chopped red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Plain low-fat yogurt or light sour cream

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)

Ladle chili into bowls. Pass red onion, cilantro and yogurt separately.

What do you think?