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Turkey Chili

Hearty and healthy ground turkey chili recipe made on the stovetop in under an hour.  An easy weeknight dinner the whole family loves.

In serving bowl with toppings.

Happy New Year!  I hope the holidays were everything you wanted them to be.  So, it's January and it's freezing, even here in St. Louis.  This is the time of year I want long, slow braises, soups and stews.  And chili!

I made this turkey chili for the first time over Thanksgiving.  First time I ever made turkey chili, it was really good, and more importantly, the whole family loved it.

Chili in pot.

I was trying to think of things to make for a house full of kids and boyfriends over the holidays.  I saw this recipe in the New York Times and decided to give it a try.  Like I always do, I followed pretty closely but changed a few things to please my family.  Not much, just a few ingredients.  I'm assuming turkey chili is pretty common and there are many versions that are all pretty similar.  I needed a starting point though, I've never really cooked much with ground turkey.

Turkey chili in bowl with sour cream and cheese.

Ground turkey is definitely milder than beef, that I knew.  It can take more spice and heat in my opinion.  It also just has a lighter overall vibe to it, maybe because it's less fatty.  Regardless, I swapped out the jalapeños for canned tomatoes and chilis.  My family is not crazy for jalapeños but they like other spicy things, like sriracha.  Go figure.


Ingredients photo, all ingredients labeled.

Two photo collage of prepping ingredients.

This turkey chili comes together fairly easy and makes a lot.  I like to heat it up on the stove and let everyone serve themselves.  I put out shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and hot sauce, and maybe some cornbread.  And often times, I'll cook up some macaroni for chili mac, a favorite in my house.


  • Use a mix of light and dark ground turkey for best results.  All white meat dries out quickly and is a little bland tasting.
  • For the best color and flavor, brown the turkey like this; blot turkey dry and add it to the pan in one piece and don't move it, let it brown for several minutes undisturbed.  Flip and brown the other side a few minutes.  Then start breaking it up with a wooden spoon and finish browning until cooked through.
  • You can use whatever diced tomatoes combination and heat level you like, including just regular diced tomatoes.  Use 3 cups diced tomatoes and 2 cups of chicken broth, as a general guide to the amount.
  • Try swapping out the beans with sweet potatoes.  Just peel and dice 2 sweet potatoes and add with the tomatoes.  Simmer 25 minutes or longer until tender.
  • This turkey chili freezes beautifully and is so nice to have on hand in the freezer.
  • Toppings to consider include sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, hot sauce, avocado, corn chips or tortilla chips, and fresh cilantro.

Closeup in bowl with cheese and sour cream toppings.

My three girls arrived at different times for the holidays.  This pot of Turkey Chili welcomed everyone.  They loved it, went back for seconds, and asked for it again at Christmas.  I had just enough leftovers the next day for lunch for a lucky few.  This recipe is a keeper, I'll be making it all winter long.  Best, Kelly🍴🐦

Turkey chili in serving bowl with toppings.

You might also like my White Chicken Chili and classic ground beef Chili Mac.

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Chili in pot.

Turkey Chili

Turkey chili with chunky vegetables, tomatoes with spicy chiles and beans. Loads of flavor in this hearty chili, lightened up a bit with ground turkey.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 292kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (white and dark meat mix)
  • 2 cups yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, cored, deveined and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, large dice
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed to release flavor
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 (14½-oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (10-oz.) can fire roasted (or regular) diced tomatoes and green chilis (like Rotel)
  • 1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes with habaneros (like Rotel spicy)
  • cups chicken broth/stock, preferably homemade
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans of red kidney beans, drained
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, hot sauce and lime wedges


  • In a large heavy dutch oven, heat oil until shimmering.  Blot turkey dry with paper towels, add to pot.  Do not move and let lightly brown for a couple minutes.  Turn meat in chunks, continue to brown a few more minutes.  Then start breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon to break up lumps, and brown, about 7 or 8 minutes.
  • Add onions, garlic, red pepper, celery, oregano, bay leaves, chili powder and cumin.  Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and tomatoes with chilis, chicken broth, salt and pepper.  Bring up to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the drained beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.  Taste for salt, serve in bowls with toppings on the side.

Recipe Notes

  • Don't use all white meat turkey, it will be too dry and lack flavor.  Use a mix of light and dark.
  • You can use whatever diced tomatoes combination you like, including just regular diced tomatoes.  Use 3 cups diced tomatoes and 2 cups of chicken broth, as a guide to the amount.
  • Try swapping out the beans with sweet potatoes.  Just peel and dice 2 sweet potatoes and add with the tomatoes.  Simmer 25 minutes or longer until tender.


Calories: 292kcal Carbohydrates: 29g Protein: 35g Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 63mg Sodium: 643mg Potassium: 958mg Fiber: 9g Sugar: 8g Vitamin A: 1749IU Vitamin C: 31mg Calcium: 117mg Iron: 5mg
Did you make this recipe? Please comment, rate it and share! And mention me on Instagram @thehungrybluebird or tag #thehungrybluebird so I can see!

*Adapted from NYT Cooking


5 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Monday 25th of September 2023

Wonderful Chili Recipe …has perfect amount of spices & ingredients. I did add a little tomato paste and added frozen corn too. We did top off with your recommended toppings of sour cream, shredded mexican cheese and added diced fresh avocado and tortilla strips. Also made corn bread and salad to have with the Chili. Thank you for sharing :)