Best Turkey Chili

This Turkey Chili recipe (stove top or slow cooker) can be on the table in less than an hour and is divinely delicious, healthy yet hearty and SO packed with flavor you won’t even miss the beef!

This Turkey Chili is one for the recipe binder.  It’s loaded with lean ground turkey, beans, veggies and robust seasonings and is the perfect vehicle for all your favorite chili toppings from cheese to sour cream to chips.  And because we used turkey we can splurge on toppings, right?  This healthy Turkey Chili makes wonderful leftovers or it freezes fabulously for an instant dinner any night of the week.

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TURKEY CHILI RECIPE VIDEO

 

up close top view of the best turkey chili

Turkey Chili Recipe

Chili is one of my all time favorite comfort foods.  I love chili so much I’ve already posted Creamy White Chicken Chili, BBQ Chicken Chili, Chipotle Mango Chili and even Chili Mac and Cheese and now I am SO excited to bring you the BEST turkey chili made healthier!  It joins my Chicken Tortilla Soup as one of the healthiest soups on my blog!

This Turkey Chili is guilt-free deeeelicious comfort food you will want to make all Fall and winter long.  It is for all those chili days (pun intended) and one of those meals that is so satisfying you want to keep eating and eating and then keep craving and craving. It boasts two secret ingredients that deliver that undeniable beefy taste – without the beef!   It’s safe to say, I’m a little obsessed.  Good thing, it is healthy.  Good thing it makes a ton. Good thing the leftovers are even better the next day.  Winning!

You will also love that this Turkey Chili is not only so easy to make, but is also easy to double for meal planning and lunches during the week, freezer meals or for large crowds (hello Halloween and football festivities!). You can make this Turkey Chili on the stove-top or slow cooker, customize the veggies, swap out turkey for beef, and make a chili bar for all your favorite toppings.

Healthy Turkey Chili Recipe

I first brought you my “life changing” turkey tacos and I think you’ll agree this is “life changing” healthy Turkey Chili.  It is full of lean ground turkey and beans which means it is a protein powerhouse and then it boasts red bell peppers, green bell peppers, onions and tomatoes in three forms.

This of course, is all wonderful, but would be a moot point if this healthy Turkey Chili tasted healthy.  Trust me, the average person would not even be able to tell the difference between this Turkey Chili and ground beef chili. Being able to lighten this chili up without losing any flavor is a big win in my book.

The secret behind this healthy Turkey Chili is twofold.  First, my secret ingredients, beef bouillon and soy sauce infuse the turkey with the salty beefy flavor that always seems to be missing from turkey dishes.

Second, this Turkey Chili boasts a rich medley of seasonings.  Instead of using any seasoning packets, our Turkey Chili is seasoned precisely with chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika, ground coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper with plenty of aromatic fresh onions and garlic as well.  It is a symphony of epic proportions – and you will want epic portions.

up close shot of a ladle scooping up turkey chili

How to Make Turkey Chili

This Turkey Chili recipe is easy to make in 3 steps!

  • Brown:  Brown the turkey with the veggies.
  • Add:  Add all the remaining ingredients.
  • Simmer:  Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until chili thickens to desired consistency.
  • Toppings: Not a cooking step but sooo fun!

Did I convince you yet?  Now don’t be scared when you see the lengthy ingredient list because most of them are cans or seasonings, and as previously mentioned, the are all just dump and simmer and require no extra time or skills than that!

Crockpot Turkey Chili

This Turkey Chili also makes fabulously easy Crockpot Turkey Chili!

There is nothing like dumping all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and coming home to a waft of hearty, eat-me-now aroma.

This Crockpot Turkey Chili requires only 10 minutes of prep work then you get to reap the slow cooking rewards after a busy day. The only prep work required is to chop your veggies per usual then brown your turkey with your onions, then dump all the ingredients into your slow cooker.

How to Make Crockpot Turkey Chili

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add turkey and onion cook and crumble until turkey is cooked through. Drain.
  2. Lightly coat a 6 qt. slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add turkey and all remaining chili ingredients.
  3. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Serve with desired toppings.

top view of turkey chili slow cooker

Crockpot Turkey Chili Tips and Tricks

  • You can brown your turkey with your onions the night before then literally dump and cook the next day. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
  • I do find that turkey chili gets thicker on the stove, so if you like thicker chili then remove the lid from the crockpot the last hour or so to let some of the moisture evaporate.
  • Use a 6-quart slow cooker so the contents fit comfortably.
  • If you don’t have a 6-quart slow cooker or simply want to make less chili, then half the recipe.

How to Customize Turkey Chili Recipe

I love how versatile chili recipes are!  Here are just a few ways to customize this Turkey Chili:

  • Swap kidney beans for cannellini beans or black beans.
  • Add sweet corn or whatever veggies your heart desires such as zucchini, poblanos, mushrooms, etc.
  • Swap ground turkey for ground chicken or lean ground beef.
  • Up the spice by adding additional cayenne pepper to taste or leave it out completely.
  • Make this Turkey Chili as thin or as thick as you would like – simmer longer for thicker, less for thinner, or add additional broth/water to thin to desired consistency.

a bowl full of healthy turkey chili recipe

What do you top Turkey Chili with?

Don’t forget the toppings!  This Turkey Chili is fabulous but takes on even more depth of flavor and texture with toppings!  A topping bar is also a great way for everyone to customize their Turkey Chili to their own Tex-Mex perfection.   My personal favorite Turkey Chili toppings are cheese, sour cream, Fritos and green onions, but I’ve given you a full rundown below.

  • Cheese:  Shredded Cheese is a Turkey Chili must!  You can use grated sharp cheddar, Mexican cheese, Monterrey, or Pepper Jack.  I personally prefer sharp cheddar with its contrasting bite but they all become meltilicous in the hot Turkey Chili.
  • Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt:  A healthy dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt adds a depth of creaminess and rich tang.  It also cuts through some of the rich seasonings and spiciness.
  • Fritos or Tortilla Chips:  Chips add the perfect contrasting crunch and if you haven’t tried Fritos yet, they will change your chili eating life.
  • Green Onions: Adding a tablespoon or so of chopped fresh green onions to your chili awakens the whole bowl with its fresh pop of flavor.
  • Cilantro: Because cilantro makes everything better!  It adds yet another layer of bright, fresh, Tex-Mex goodness.
  • Diced Tomatoes:  I love the contrast of fresh, juicy tomatoes in the warm, rich Turkey Chili.
  • Avocado or Guacamole: If you love avocados, this healthy Turkey Chili is a beautiful canvas for them!  I love the layer of fresh creaminess they add.
  • Hot Sauce:  Completely customize the heat of your chili with as much or as little hot sauce as you like.

close up ladle full of the best turkey chili

What Should I serve Turkey Chili With?

We like to keep our Turkey Chili meal simple with big green salad, fruit and my favorite ever Moist Cornbread.  If you wanted to get more fancy, then it would be fabulous with Outback Wedge Salad or Winter Fruit Salad.  Some people also love their chili over rice or pasta for some added texture.

How long is Turkey Chili Good For?

Homemade Turkey Chili can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to four days.  If you don’t think you’re going to finish your chili in four days, then be sure to freeze the leftovers.

Can I freeze Turkey Chili?

Yes!  Turkey Chili freezes exceptionally well because it does not have any dairy products, pasta or potatoes which sometimes can get a funny consistency.  This Turkey Chili makes a lot so you may need to freeze some leftovers (although there are never any in our house).

How to Freeze Turkey Chili

  • Let Turkey Chili cool completely in the refrigerator.
  • Divide chili into freezer friendly plastic containers or freezer bags. Squeeze out any air.
  • Label and date.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Let frozen chili thaw in the refrigerator overnight then empty contents into a soup pot or microwave safe dish and reheat.

Looking for more Soup Recipes?

a spoonful of the best turkey chili with green onions and cheese

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up close top view of the best turkey chili

Turkey Chili (Stove Top or Slow Cooker)

This Turkey Chili recipe can be on the table in less than an hour and is divinely delicious, healthy yet hearty and SO packed with flavor you won’t even miss the beef! It’s loaded with lean ground turkey, beans, veggies and robust seasonings and is the perfect vehicle for all your favorite chili toppings from cheese to sour cream to chips.  This healthy Turkey Chili makes wonderful leftovers or it freezes fabulously for an instant dinner any night of the week.
Servings: 8 -12
Total Time: 50 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

Toppings (your favs!)

  • cheese
  • green onions
  • cilantro
  • Avocados/guacamole
  • crackers
  • chips
  • Sour cream/Greek yogurt
  • Amazing with Sweet Cornbread!

Instructions

STOVE TOP

  • Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven/soup pot over medium high heat. Add turkey and vegetables and cook until turkey is cooked through, breaking up clumps as you go. Add all seasonings, beef bouillon and garlic and sauté 1 minute.
  • Stir in all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until chili thickens to desired consistency, stirring occasionally.
  • After simmering, if you would like a thinner chili, stir in water to reach desired consistency. Taste and add salt, pepper or cayenne pepper if desired. Serve with desired toppings such as cheese, green onions and crackers.

SLOW COOKER

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add turkey and onion and cook and crumble until turkey is cooked through. Drain.
  • Lightly coat a 6 qt. slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add turkey and all remaining chili ingredients. Stir.
  • Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Serve with desired toppings.

Video

Notes

Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!

Crockpot Turkey Chili Tips and Tricks

  • You can brown your turkey with your onions the night before then literally dump and cook the next day. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
  • I do find that turkey chili gets thicker on the stove, so if you like thicker chili then remove the lid from the crockpot the last hour or so to let some of the moisture evaporate.
  • Use a 6-quart slow cooker so the contents fit comfortably.
  • If you don’t have a 6-quart slow cooker or simply want to make less chili, then half the recipe.

How to Freeze Turkey Chili

  • Let Turkey Chili cool completely in the refrigerator.
  • Divide chili into freezer friendly plastic containers or freezer bags. Squeeze out any air.
  • Label and date.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Let frozen chili thaw in the refrigerator overnight then empty contents into a soup pot or microwave safe dish and reheat.

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30 Comments

  1. Talia says

    I love all your recipes and look forward to getting your emails! Quick question- how many bouillon cubes would I need for this recipe? Thanks in advance, I look forward to making it soon.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Talia! It’s always nice to hear my emails/recipes are appreciated! In my experience, one bouillon cube equals one teaspoon so you will need two bouillon cubes. Enjoy!

  2. Tanya says

    Hi Jen, I am working my way through your soup recipes and have loved everything I’ve tried! I just made your Thai Chicken Noodle Soup and it was outstanding! This Turkey Chili will be nest in my list. Thank you for your flavor filled recipes!

    • Jen says

      That is awesome you are working your way through my soups Tanya! Soups are definitely one of my favorite foods to make – and to eat 🙂 I LOVE the Thai Soup you just made – so much I am working on a shrimp version too. In the meantime, I hope you continue loving my soups including this Turkey Chili!

  3. Naomi says

    Jen, you have made my day! I was wanting to make some chili with turkey meat instead of beef (to save fat and calories!), but was afraid it wouldn’t have that rich “beefy” taste. I open up my email and see yours and just by looking at the picture it looked so good! Once I saw you used beef bullion I knew it would kick up that beef flavor. It is starting to cool down here a little in SC and this will be the first thing I make once I need something to warm me up. Thank you for all of your great recipes!

    • Jen says

      That is awesome Naomi, great minds think alike! I am so excited for you to try this Turkey Chili – I think you will absolutely love it and hopefully it will warm you up!

  4. Heather says

    Just threw this in the crock pot to bring to a church chili cook off! I’m excited to try it out. I debated using beef instead, buuut I opted for the turkey. I don’t doubt it will be amazing. I’ll just have to keep that bit of information to myself for the sake of my picky, anti-ground turkey hubby. Ha! I’ll see if he notices.

    • Jen says

      Hi Heather, I am so curious to know if he noticed it was turkey?! I hope you had a fabulous cook-off and everyone loved the chili!

  5. Nina says

    Hi greetings from the UK and thanks for the fabulous recipe. Sadly, I have never been able to find the fire roasted canned tomatoes here. Any ideas what I can substitute to give the same flavour? I have never tried them so don’t know what I am trying to replicate in the tatste department! Do you use ground turkey breast mince or ground turkey thigh mince? Finally, I am assuming that the can of tomato sauce is what we know here in the UK as concentrated tomato purée/pasta? Thanks

    • Jen says

      Hi Nina from the UK! You can substitute regular diced tomatoes and a 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke. If you don’t have liquid smoke (liquid flavoring found near the barbecue sauces) then you can skip it. As far as turkey, I use lean ground turkey breast because it is leaner than thighs – but it is personal preference :). I believe our tomato paste and not tomato sauce is your concentrated tomato puree/pasta. Our tomato sauce is thinned out concentrated tomato puree – it is pourable consistency – so maybe mix your tomato puree with water or just use half the amount then add extra water to the soup? I hope that helps!

  6. Terri says

    Hi Jen, Thanks for the Turkey Chili recipe! I made it today, and it was awesome. I have been searching for a “beefy” recipe that uses turkey, and found yours! Family really, really liked it, and had no idea it was Turkey! This will be my go to recipe from now on. Bless you!!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Terri, I’m thrilled you loved it and found it nice and “beefy!” I hope you find many new favorites here!

  7. Pam says

    Your Turkey Chili recipe was great! I loved the combination and amount of spices you used, especially the coriander (ground cilantro seeds), smoked paprika, and soy sauce (umami). My grocery only had 20 oz. pkgs of turkey (85%) so I added 1 can of black beans to compensate. They also didn’t carry the fire roasted tomatoes, so I used Mexican style stewed tomatoes. I will keep looking for those or try the substitution you mentioned in a previous comment. But even with the changes the chili was so flavorful! Can’t wait to try your other recipes. I think we speak the same language when it comes to spices and bold flavor!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Pam, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it! I’m so glad we are foodie “kindred spirits!” I hope you find many new recipes to love here!

  8. Renea says

    Hi Jen! I want you to know that I fixed your Turkey Chili last night and it was absolutely delicious!! My husband loved it so much he had seconds and then he scooped some out for his lunch for today! Super easy too! The only change I made was I used a Poblano pepper (seeds removed) instead of green bell pepper. I personally just like the taste better. Thank you so much for your awesome recipes, they are the best! Please keep up the good work, or Cooking I should say!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Renea, I’m thrilled this Turkey Chili was such a hit – even with your husband! I love pobalano peppers too, I bet that substitution is delicious. Thanks for taking the time to comment and make my recipes!

  9. Nelsy says

    Hey there! So I love a lot of your recipes and want to try making this one. Is there any substitute you would recommend for the bouillon? I’m on Whole30 right now and everything in the recipe is compliant except for the beans (which I’m fine leaving out) and the bouillon. Or do you think the taste would be totally off if I just left it out?? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Nelsy, it adds a salty beef-i-ness but it will still be good without it! You will probably need to add more salt to taste. Enjoy!

  10. Nancy Perine says

    Hi! I had fun cruising around your website/blog. Your recipe for Turkey Chili caught my eye. I had everything on hand except the ground turkey and our friendly grocery store just a couple blocks down the road was able to fix me right up! This was fun to put together and it gave me an excuse to use my new slow cooker. We had friends over for brunch a couple days later and the turkey chili was a big hit. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jen says

      Thank for exploring my site Nancy! I’m so pleased you loved the chili and it was big hit! I hope you find many new favorites here!

  11. Charles Sullivan says

    I was kind of skeptical about this recipe only because I have never had a turkey chili I enjoy, but my wife doesn’t enjoy ground beef so I had to find a recipe with turkey. We made this yesterday in the slow cooker and i can honestly say this is the best chili I have ever tasted hands down. Everyone from my kids, my wife, father and myself all hand seconds. This will DEFIANTLY be on the monthly menu, can’t wait to try more of your recipes

    • Jen says

      That is amazing Charles, thanks for making my day! I am thrilled this turkey chili won you and your entire family over! I hope you enjoy exploring my site and find many new favorites!

  12. Mary says

    I’m making this next week; but, I have a question about the Chipotle Chili Powder. Is that imperative or can it be substituted for regular Chili Powder. Also, is Chipotle Chili Powder spicy like Cayenne Pepper? I am making this for me and my toddler, so it can’t be too hot.

    • Jen says

      Hi Mary, you can absolutely substitute it with chili powder, especially if making for your toddler. If you want a little kick to yours, then you can add some cayenne. Chipotle powder is smokey heat and is spicy but less spicy than cayenne pepper.

  13. Stacie says

    This is a very delicious chili! I love using turkey instead of beef. I substituted with chicken broth and bouillon. All of the spices are just the right combination.
    It is an overcast day along the coast in San Diego…so perfect time to make it.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Stacie, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it! And you’re so right, this recipe is perfect for the weather right now. It definitely feels like fall!

  14. Terri says

    What an interesting and delicious recipe! I love all the spices used. After letting it cook awhile and tasting it, I decided to add a chopped jalapeño for extra spice and 2 teaspoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa for the dark color that we personally love in chili. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Mmmmmm, I love that you love heat! Your additions sound fantastic!

  15. Bee says

    Hello! Can ground chicken or ground pork be substituted for the turkey?

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