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Cincinnati-Style Chili

Jet Tila's Pulled Pork Nachos, Thai Hot Wings + Ryan Scott's Cincinnati-Style Chili, Multi-Meat Italian Football-Shaped Subs
Jet Tila's Pulled Pork Nachos, Thai Hot Wings + Ryan Scott's Cincinnati-Style Chili, Multi-Meat Italian Football-Shaped SubsNathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
3 hrs
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

It doesn't get any more convenient for tailgating than eating chili and corn chips straight out of the bag. But, if you have a comfy seat to watch the game, serving chili over spaghetti is the way to go.

Technique tip: Toasting the spices in the pan before adding the meat and liquids really brings out all the aroma and flavor and adds a depth that you wouldn't get otherwise.

Swap option: Try ground turkey for a lower calorie chili, or even go vegetarian with crumbled firm tofu instead of meat.


  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • Diced yellow or white onions, for garnish
  • 6 cups cooked spaghetti or 6 small (individual serving) bags corn chips



In a large pot, heat up the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent.


Add all of the spices, salt and pepper and cocoa powder and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, allowing the spices to toast up and release their aroma. Pour the water in the pan and use a wooden spoon to loosen the cooked spices from the bottom of the pan.


Add the meat to the pan and stir to combine. Sauté until the meat is browned through.


Add the tomato sauce and rice vinegar, stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer the chili for 1½ hours, stirring every 5-10 minutes (if you want to use a slow cooker, pour the complete mixture into your slow cooker after adding the tomato sauce and vinegar and set it on high for 3 hours).


When the chili is done cooking, you have a choice of serving styles. You can go the true Cincinnati 3-way, or take it West Coast and pour it over corn chips. For the Cincinnati 3-way, pour the chili over cooked spaghetti and top it generously with shredded cheddar cheese and diced onions. For West Coast, pour the chili directly in the bag of chips along with the cheddar cheese and onions and eat it right out of the bag.