Turkey Chili: Hearty and Spicy Comfort Food

Chili is one of those dishes that warms you from the inside out. It’s a meal full of flavor, and when swapped with lean ground turkey, it becomes a healthier option without sacrificing any of the comforting qualities. In this post, we’ll delve into a basic, hearty turkey chili recipe and discuss how to customize it for your unique taste.

Healthful Hearty Turkey Chili


  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1.5 cups canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions, cilantro, avocado slices


  1. Sauté the Aromatics: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent and the pepper is softened.
  2. Cook the Turkey: Add the ground turkey to the pot. Break it up with a spoon and cook until no longer pink.
  3. Add the Spices: Sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper over the turkey. Stir until all the meat is coated with the spices.
  4. Add Remaining Ingredients: Add the beans and diced tomatoes with their juice. Stir everything together, then simmer for around 30 minutes until the flavors meld together.
  5. Serve the Chili: Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with your choice of toppings.

Spice It Up: Turkey Chili Variations

1. Smoky Turkey Chili

Add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the chili for a rich, smoky flavor. Top with crumbled smoked gouda instead of cheddar for extra smokiness.

2. Sweet and Spicy Turkey Chili

Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar for a touch of sweetness that beautifully balances out the heat of the chili. Serve with a dollop of cool sour cream.

3. Mediterranean Turkey Chili

Swap the kidney beans with canned chickpeas, and add some chopped Kalamata olives and a few teaspoons of oregano to give the chili a Mediterranean twist. Top with crumbled feta and chopped fresh parsley.

4. “No Bean” Low-Carb Turkey Chili

Skip the beans, double the amount of ground turkey, and add some extra veggies like chopped zucchini and mushrooms for a low-carb, high-protein chili.

5. White Turkey Chili

Use white cannellini beans instead of black and kidney beans, add diced green chiles, and swap out the diced tomatoes with 2 cups of chicken broth. Sprinkle in some cumin and oregano, and top with Monterey Jack cheese and sliced jalapenos.

Chili is a versatile dish that lends itself to experimentation. By tweaking the ingredients and spices, you can create a turkey chili that caters specifically to your taste buds. So, venture out of your comfort zone and create your own unique version of this hearty comfort food!

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