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Cincinnati Chili 4 Ways

Cook Time:
1 hr 15 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

This chili is simple, filling and the perfect meal before playing — or while watching — a football game. It's great to serve on its own, over a plate of spaghetti, rolled up in cheesy enchiladas or on top of a hot dog.

Technique tip: Use either a whisk or potato masher to mash the meat as fine as possible.

Swap option: Swap beef for any other ground meat.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 cups water
Cincinnati Style
  • 1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon diced white onion, or to taste
  • 4 cups grated cheddar cheese, or to taste
  • 6 cups chili, divided (3 cups chilled and 3 cups warmed)
  • 8 soft taco-size tortillas, flour or corn
  • 16 ounces marbled cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
  • crema, guacamole, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, sliced red jalapeños and lime wedges, to serve
West Side Chili Cheese Dogs
  • 8 beef hot dogs
  • 8 hot dog buns
  • 3 cups chili, warmed
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1/4 chopped chives
  • sliced red jalapeños and cilantro leaves, to garnish


For the chili:


Add the ground beef and tomato paste to a large pot set over medium-high heat.


Rinse the tomato paste can with a couple tablespoons of water and add to the pot along with the garlic, onion, all the dry seasonings and bay leaves.


Stir in apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and water, then mash and stir the mixture with a whisk or potato masher to break up the meat into fine pieces.


Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon so that the bottom does not burn. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until flavors come together and chili reaches your desired thickness, slightly over an hour.

To make it Cincinnati-style:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until past al dente, for roughly 12 minutes. Ladle chili over the spaghetti and top with onions and cheddar cheese.

To make Enchiladas:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spread a thin layer of warm chili on the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish.

Add 1/3 cup of the chilled chili in a straight line to the center of each tortilla. Add about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese and roll up tightly. Lay seam-side down in the casserole dish. Repeat until the casserole dish is filled with the rolled enchiladas.

Spread the rest of the warm chili over the top of the tortillas, making sure to coat each tortilla. Sprinkle the remaining cheese all over the top and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the center is bubbly. Serve with desired toppings.

To make West Side Chili Cheese Dogs:

Cook hot dogs on a stovetop or grill to establish some form of color or crust, then add to bun. Ladle over chili then top with cotija cheese, chives, cilantro and red jalapeños.