Smoky Turkey Chili Recipe

Since ground turkey is leaner than ground beef, turkey chili can make for a healthy alternative to the standard version of the dish. Ground turkey's relative lack of fat, though, can lead to it being somewhat bland in flavor, but not if you deploy an array of well-chosen seasonings such as recipe developer Molly Madigan Pisula uses here. This chili gets its smoky flavor from smoked paprika, but she says, "If you like your chili even smokier, try adding a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce."

The chili also has an unexpected, ingredient, that being cinnamon. As Pisula explains, "The cinnamon in this recipe really complements the smoky flavor from the smoked paprika and makes the chili smell even more delicious." While this chili isn't a particularly fiery one, Pisula does say that you could boost the heat level, as well as adding some complexity, by swapping out some of the chili powder for powdered chipotle or ancho chiles.

Gather the ingredients for the smoky turkey chili

You'll need ground turkey to make this chili, of course, plus an onion, some garlic, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, canned black beans, and chicken broth. You'll also need olive oil for cooking, plus salt, pepper, chili powder, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and oregano for seasoning.

While Pisula uses a yellow onion in her chili, she notes that "red onion or white onion would be a fine substitute" if that's what you happen to have in the house.

Prepare the produce

Before you begin cooking, you will need to peel and chop the onion, painful though that may be. If you've got an old pair of swim goggles lying around, put them on first as they really will help. You could also try refrigerating the onion first and be sure to use a sharp knife, as well. Once this task is done (whew!), you'll then need to peel and chop the garlic.

Cook the ground turkey with the seasonings

Heat the oil over medium high, then crumble the ground turkey into the pan. Cook it for about 5 minutes until there's no pink left, stirring to break up any big clumps. Pisula cautions, "If you use ground turkey that is not lean, you'll have some extra fat in the pot after it cooks." If this is the case, she tells us that up to 2 teaspoons of fat is fine, but anything in excess of this amount should be removed.

Once the turkey is cooked, stir in the onions, garlic, tomato paste, and seasonings. Cook the turkey for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. If the turkey starts to scorch or stick to the pan, you may need to turn down the heat.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer the chili

Finish off the chili by adding the beans, tomatoes (liquid and all), and broth to the turkey. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer it for 20 minutes. Pisula advises, "Make sure you bring the chili to a good simmer" as she explains, "That will allow some of the liquid to boil off and will allow the flavors to meld together." Once the chili is done, taste it and add any salt and pepper you feel it might need. Pisula suggests topping it with shredded cheese, chopped onions, cilantro, and/or lime juice, but you can also use any other chili add-ons you like such as sour cream, hot sauce, pickled jalapeños, and/or green onions.

Any chili you don't eat right away can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and in fact, Pisula feels that "Chili is even tastier on day 2." She does say, though, that you may want to add a little more liquid when you reheat it.

Smoky Turkey Chili Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
This smoky turkey chili packs warming flavors in every hearty bite.
Prep Time
Cook Time
bowl of chili with gray towel
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 (15 ½-ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 ½-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • chopped red onion
  1. Peel and chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook the turkey in the oil for 5 minutes until it's no longer pink, breaking it up into smaller pieces as you cook.
  4. Add the onions, garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, cinnamon, and oregano to the turkey.
  5. Cook the seasoned turkey for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and turning down the heat if the mixture begins to scorch.
  6. Add the beans, tomatoes (complete with liquid), and broth to the turkey and bring the chili to a boil.
  7. Simmer the chili for 20 minutes.
  8. Season the chili to taste with pepper, adding more salt if desired.
  9. You can garnish the chili with shredded cheese, cilantro, chopped onions, lime wedges, or any other toppings you like.
Calories per Serving 368
Total Fat 13.9 g
Saturated Fat 3.2 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 78.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 30.4 g
Dietary Fiber 11.6 g
Total Sugars 5.4 g
Sodium 954.9 mg
Protein 33.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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