Warm Up with Spicy Turkey Chili

Chili — it’s like a big warm hug on a cold day. As a kid, I loved when my mom announced that it was chili night. It was the one dinner (besides the obvious pizza or tacos) that really got me excited. Reflecting on it now, it’s somewhat ironic that I loved it. A pot of spicy beans and ground beef got me excited? It’s true, and it’s something that I still love and crave.

While I love my mom’s chili (trust me, it is delicious!), I’ve kind of come into my own when it comes to chili. My version includes more beans and veggies, and I like to swap out lean ground turkey for the beef. I also like to load in the lycopene in the form of canned, BPA-free tomato sauce, paste and diced tomatoes. Letting it sit on the stove and allowing it to simmer really enhances the toasted spices and makes it even more delicious the next day.

This recipe feeds a crowd, but is great as leftovers, too. Pair it with some cornbread and you’ve got a meal that will warm you up and fill you up. Now go and get that chili pot on the stove and get cooking!

Spicy Turkey Chili

Recipe developed by Sara Haas RDN, LDN

Serves 15 1-cup portions

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons hot chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 15-oz. can low-sodium tomato sauce
2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes, liquids and solids
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and green peppers and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the ground turkey to the pot and cook, stirring to crumble, until turkey is no longer pink. Carefully drain excess fat from the pot.
  3. Add the garlic to the turkey and vegetable mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, paprika and cocoa powder and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 more minute.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and brown sugar and stir. Increase heat and bring to just a boil, then reduce the heat, partially cover and simmer, cooking for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and cook an additional 15 minutes.
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Sara Haas
Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, is a Chicago-based dietitian and co-author of the Fertility Foods Cookbook. Read her blog, The Cooking RD, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.