Turkey Chili is a wonderful, healthy version of the classic chili we all know and love. It’s an easy recipe that is ready in about an hour and loaded with ground turkey meat, vegetables, beans, and spices. You can make this mouthwatering chili on stove-top, in a Crock Pot, or in an Instant Pot.
I love making chili when there is the faintest whisper of chill in the air. It doesn’t meat that I don’t make chili in the summer though, I actually make it all year long. Colder temperatures just put me in a mood for a bowl of chili or hearty soup.
Classic beef chili is my son’s favorite dish so I make it almost every week. Personally, I love turkey chili better because it’s a little healthier and lighter. You still get a hearty bowl of flavorful chili but turkey and the lack of bacon makes it much lighter.
Here is the deal about MY turkey chili recipe, I like to have a more even ratio of vegetables, meat, and beans. I like my chili hearty and packed with protein, so I add extra meat that way we’re not just eating vegetables and beans. When I have an opportunity, I like to use a mixture of white and dark turkey meat. It adds more flavor and better texture.
You can ask the butcher at your grocery store if they ground their own turkey meat and if it’s possible to get a combination of white and dark meat. Many of them will be able to do it for you. If not, I recommend getting the “lean” turkey meat rather that “extra lean.” Extra lean meat tends to be a little too dry and chewy.
TIP: Turkey chili is also a great way to use up leftover holiday turkey. Simply use diced of shredded leftover turkey meat instead of ground turkey in this recipes.
HOW TO ADJUST SPICE LEVEL
When it comes to spices, I like a lot of flavor in my recipes. But spicy does not mean flavorful because heat level is not the same as flavor. So even through this chili is spiced very well, many of you may want to adjust the heat level to your own preference. This chili recipe is about medium heat level.
It’s very easy to adjust spice level by adding or taking away a few ingredients. If you want your chili more spicy: choose older jalapenos with more veins on the skin, leave the jalapeno seeds in, and/or add more chili powder. To make the chili less spicy: choose younger jalapenos with smooth skin, discard the seeds, and don’t add extra chili powder.
HOW TO MAKE TURKEY CHILI
It’s so easy to make this chili, I usually just keep adding ingredients to the pot and them stew it all for 30-40 minutes.
Preheat the Dutch oven (or another large soup pot) over medium heat and add oil. Saute onions and peppers together until it start to soften and add garlic. Stir the veggies for a few seconds until garlic is fragrant and add ground turkey meat.
Break up the meat as much as you can, cover the pot with a lid and let it cook. Keep breaking up the lumps of meat with a wooden spoon every few minutes, as it cooks. When turkey meat is cooked through, add canned tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and spices. Carefully stir everything together, lower the heat to low, and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
Finally, stir in cilantro and lime juice right before servings and garnish with your favorite toppings. (If you haven’t tried it with avocado, do it immediately. It’s life-changing!)
TURKEY CHILI IN A CROCK POT
If you’re a fan of slow cooking, you can definitely make this chili in a Crock Pot.
Preheat a large cooking pan over medium heat and add oil. Saute onions and peppers together until it start to soften and add garlic. Stir the veggies for a few seconds util garlic is fragrant and add ground turkey meat. Break up the meat as much as you can, cover and cook until meat is just cooked through. Make sure to break up lumps of meat as much you can while it’s cooking.
Next, transfer the mixture into the Crock Pot and mix in canned tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, broth, and spices. Close the lid on the Crock Pot and cook on HIGH for about 4 hours or on LOW for about 6 hours. Discard bay leaves.
Finally, stir in cilantro and lime juice right before servings.
TURKEY CHILI IN INSTANT POT
Set Instant Pot to “Saute” setting and give it a couple of minutes to warm up. Add some oil to the pot and saute onions and bell peppers until softened. Stir in garlic and saute it until fragrant. Add turkey meat into the pot and break it up as much as you can. Keep cooking and breaking up lumps every few minutes until the meat is just done.
Next, stir in canned tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, broth, and spices. Close the lid and latch it. Make sure to turn the valve to “seal” and set pressure cooker to “Beans/Chili.” If your pressure cooker does not have that setting, set it to cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. (Make sure to consult your pressure cooker’s manual for exact settings and safety instructions.)
Let the pressure cooker do a natural release for about 10 minutes and then carefully do a quick release. Discard the bay leaves.
Finally, stir in cilantro and lime juice and serve with your favorite toppings.
STORING TURKEY CHILI
Cool chili to room temperature and store it in the refrigerator. You can store it in the same pot it was cooked in, covered with a lid, or transfer it into a food storage container with an air-tight lid. Properly stored, turkey chili will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
To extend the shelf life or prepare easy meals for the week, you can also freeze it.
To Freeze Turkey Chili:
Cool chili as quickly as possible if you plan to freeze it. This will give bacteria less chance to build and will help extend the shelf life of food. The best way to cool food quickly is to place the pot of chili into a larger container filled with ice and make sure to stir it from time to time as it cools.
Once it’s cooled, portion it into smaller freezer bags, let all the air out, and close it well. Remember to label and date.
Lay the bags flat on the cutting board and freeze. Once frozen, it will be easy to stack bags of chili.
To thaw, take the bag out of the freezer and into the refrigerator to slow-thaw it overnight.
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Turkey Chili Recipe
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 bell peppers
- 2 jalapenos
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 lbs lean ground turkey
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 16 oz can red kidney beans drained
- 16 oz navy beans drained
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp chipotle chili powder
- 3 tsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano
- 3 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp kosher salt more of less based on personal taste
- 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
- 1 large lime juice only
- Dice vegetables and prepare the ingredients before starting to cook.
- Preheat the Dutch oven (or another large soup pot) over medium heat and add oil.
- Saute onions and peppers together until it start to soften and add garlic. Stir and cook until garlic is fragrant.
- Add ground turkey and break up the meat as much as you can. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook. Keep breaking up the lumps of meat with a wooden spoon every few minutes, as it cooks.
- When turkey meat is cooked through, add canned tomatoes, drained beans, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and spices.
- Carefully stir everything together, lower the heat to low, and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Stir in cilantro and lime juice and serve with your favorite toppings.