Cincinnati Chili

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Let’s talk Cincinnati for a minute.

I had the pleasure of briefly visiting there once. One of my best friends from law school was from Cincinnati, and as tends to be the case when you’re living about 1,000 miles from home for the first time in your life, she talked about Cincy in general and chili in particular. A lot. (I definitely don’t blame her…I remember talking my fair share about Buffalo wings!)

We were in law school in Florida, and when she found out there was a Skyline Chili location what she considered to be “nearby”, she drove us there to experience the magic that is Cincinnati chili, even though “nearby” meant a one-hour drive each way. She was a fanatic like that, and for good reason. We made the drive, ate our chili, and full and happy, she said with a sigh, It’s even better in Cincinnati. And because I know how “Buffalo” wings taste outside of Buffalo, I didn’t doubt her for a moment. A while after that, I visited her in Cincinnati and got to experience for myself what she had been talking about.


There are many foods that vary by region across the U.S., but chili is one of those things that not only differs quite a bit, but people feel very strongly about. (Just ask any Texan about chili and you’ll see what I mean!) Chili in Cincinnati is unlike any other chili.

It starts with a complex, rich-flavored, warmly-spiced meat sauce that has a touch of chocolate added, usually in the form of unsweetened cocoa powder. Then that incredible sauce is served one of the following “ways”: two-way (chili over spaghetti noodles); three-way (chili over spaghetti noodles topped with shredded cheese); four-way (chili over spaghetti noodles topped with shredded cheese and diced onion); five-way (chili over spaghetti noodles topped with shredded cheese, diced onion, and kidney beans). Hot sauce and oyster crackers are served alongside; although it might sound strange, oyster crackers add the perfect bit of salty crunch to the dish.

This chili something I recommend trying at least once – but if you do, be warned that you may very well be hooked.

If you’re intrigued, head over to my guest post on the Tasty Kitchen Blog to check out the full recipe for Cincinnati Chili!

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  1. says

    I’m always down for any form of chili. It may be one of my favorite dishes. Its so comforting on cold days, but can be brightened up to be an awesome summer dish too!

  2. says

    I went and checked out the recipe. Sounds great, don’t mind the time factor, looks like it’s worth the effort. Love that you serve it with lots of cheese and onions. Tabasco too. Oyster crackers are so cute.

  3. Shannon says

    I made a special trip to a local market this morning to purchase the ingredients that were not to hand in the pantry (the meat). Thought this would be a lovely dish to make in light of the snow storm that will visit us tomorrow here in the Land of Oz (KS). The results are delicious. I transferred the dish to the slow cooker for the simmering stage. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  4. says

    I know the feeling of your friend as I myself miss several dishes of my hometown and I would do the same if I heard about a restaurant serving those dishes. It wouldn’t matter how “nearby” it was!
    This chili with noodles looks amazing! A very comforting food for cold days! I love all those on spahetti and I’m definitely intrigues by oyster crackers!

  5. says

    So funny, I’ve been playing around with Cincinnati Chili and finally came up with a version that my Cincinnati friends approved of. Going to have to give your recipe a whirl. Looks great!

  6. says

    I made this chili yesterday, and it is amazing. Last time I had Cincinnati style chili it was in my hometown (all I will say is its not Cincinnati) and I was really disappointed. This version is great. Its already half gone, and its barely been 24 hours. This is the perfect chili to top a perfect hot dog with as well…


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