Made famous by Skyline Chili, this Cincinnati style chili is a spot-on copycat you can make in a slow cooker, ready to be served in any of the 5 classic “ways.”
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Table of Contents
- About Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili
- What makes Cincinnati chili different?
- How do you serve Cincinnati chili?
- How long is chili good for?
- Can you freeze chili?
- How do you thicken chili?
- How do you thin out chili?
- Notes & tips for this copycat skyline chili
- More fun copycat recipes
- How to make slow cooker cincinnati chili
- Recipe Details
About Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili
For those that know it, Cincinnati chili is a food phenomenon and a cherished local dish. The most recognizable name of it is Skyline Chili, and if you’re in Ohio (and some of the surrounding area) you’ve no doubt have passed their restaurants or seen their items at your local grocery store.
But as for the rest of the country, they have no idea what all this fuss is about over Cincinnati chili.
And that’s a shame, because Cincinnati-style chili has a flair all its own. It still has many of the trademark chili ingredients (beef, tomatoes, onions) but it also includes some unique additions (such as chocolate, cinnamon, and nutmeg) that help curb the tanginess of the tomatoes and bring out a richness in the beef. Plus, this style of chili is designed to be served in “ways” (described below) that take this chili to places way beyond the traditional piping hot bowl.
What makes Cincinnati chili different?
Cincinnati chili has a style all its own, and you can easily identify it in two main ways:
The taste – Unlike classic or Texas chili (which tends to have thick meats, veggies, and Mexican-inspired spices) Cincinnati chili has a milder taste with hints of chocolate and cinnamon that help curb the tanginess of the tomatoes. However, don’t let those ingredients fool you; this chili is not sweet.
The consistency – One of the trademarks of this chili is how it’s served, and that’s because it’s treated as a condiment. Locals typically serve it on top of spaghetti or hot dogs. Plus, it has a more watery consistency than your average chili.
How do you serve Cincinnati chili?
If you’re going to serve this chili the “right” way, you have to learn the unique lingo Cincinnatians have come up with for serving their beloved chili. This is typically broken down into five different methods they simply call “ways”:
- Two-way – Spaghetti or hot dog topped with chili.
- Three-way – Spaghetti or hot dog topped with chili and cheese.
- Four-way – Spaghetti or hot dog topped with chili, cheese, and onions (my favorite, which is pictured here).
- Four-way bean – Spaghetti or hot dog topped with chili, cheese, and beans.
- Five-way – Spaghetti or hot dog topped with chili, cheese, onions, and beans.
How long is chili good for?
Once prepared and cooled, Cincinnati chili can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three to four days.
Can you freeze chili?
Yes, you totally can!
When properly stored in a sealed container or freezer bag, this chili can be frozen for up to four to six months. When ready to serve, just thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and warm it up on the stove or in a slow cooker.
How do you thicken chili?
Cincinnati chili is typically more “watery” than your average chili, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If the chili comes out too watery and you’d prefer a different consistency, you can thicken it by making a slurry.
To make slurry:
- Scoop out 1/4 cup of the more watery part of chili, and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
- Add in 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or a different thickening agent of your choice) to the mixing bowl.
- Whisk together thoroughly.
- Pour slurry back in with the chili, then stir.
- Repeat these steps until chili reaches the desired thickness.
How do you thin out chili?
Since this recipe is made in a slow cooker, there’s a chance that the chili might be thicker than you were anticipating. Slow cookers tend to trap in moisture, so less is added before cooking to prevent there being too much liquid. If this is the case, you can add more beef broth (or water) to the chili to thin it out to your desired consistency.
Notes & tips for this copycat skyline chili
- If you’re in the market for a new slow cooker, I’m a big fan of this slow cooker – it has three sizes in one! Perfect if you’d like to adjust the serving size of this recipe to something smaller (and have a smaller pot to clean up once you’re done.)
- This recipe has changed some over the years. If you made it before, I hope you’ll give this new version a try; thanks to reader feedback, it now has an even more authentic Skyline Chili flavor.
More fun copycat recipes
How to make slow cooker cincinnati chili
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – In a large slow cooker, add the ground beef, then use a spatula to crumble it up into smaller pieces.
Step 2 – Add the following ingredients to the slow cooker: yellow onion, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, unsweetened chocolate, chili powder, garlic, paprika, unsweetened cocoa powder, light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Feel free to adjust the amount of cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to your tastes.
Step 3 – Give the ingredients a good stir, making sure everything is thoroughly mixed.
Step 4 – Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, then stir well.
Step 5 – Serve any of the “ways” mentioned above and enjoy!
Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili
- 1 1/2 pound ground beef
- 2 medium chopped yellow onion, plus more serving (optional)
- 29 ounce diced tomatoes
- 8 ounce tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup beef broth, or up to 2 cups for thinner consistency
- 2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- cooked spaghetti, for serving (optional)
- shredded cheddar cheese, for topping (optional)
- cooked beans, for topping (optional)
- 1 1/2 pound ground beef
- Add yellow onion, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, unsweetened chocolate, chili powder, garlic, paprika, unsweetened cocoa powder, light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir ingredients thoroughly until combined.29 ounce diced tomatoes, 2 medium chopped yellow onion, 8 ounce tomato sauce, 1/2 cup beef broth, 2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, 2 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Cover slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Once cooked, stir chili well.
- Serve Cincinnati chili immediately as desired, such as one of the "ways" that include spaghetti and beans or garnished with cheddar cheese and yellow onion.cooked spaghetti, shredded cheddar cheese, cooked beans
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.