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Classic Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Not your average chili. Maybe not even chili at all.
Classic Cincinnati Chili Recipe

Servings: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 2-3 hours


for the chili:
1 tablespoon hot chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 yellow onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
6 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon coarse salt, or more to taste
2 pounds|965 grams lean ground beef
2 (28-ounce|794 grams) cans crushed tomatoes
2 beef bouillon cubes, or ¼ cup beef demi-glace

to serve:
cooked spaghetti
shredded cheddar
finely chopped white onion
red kidney beans
oyster crackers
hot sauce


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, dry mustard, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil over medium in a large pot. Sauté the onions and garlic until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spice mixture and salt and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beef and stir thoroughly to combine. Continue stirring until the beef is lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Add the bouillon cubes and stir. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, until the chili is very thick and fragrant. Season with additional salt and spices if desired.
  3. To serve it "five-way," ladle the chili over a bowl of spaghetti and top with red kidney beans, white onions, and a heaping mound of cheese. Serve with oyster crackers and hot sauce. Author's Note: This recipe is reprinted with permission of the author from James Beard's All-American Eats: Recipes and Stories From Our Best-Loved Local Restaurants.

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