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A Beginner’s Guide to Cincinnati Chili

A Beginner’s Guide to Cincinnati Chili
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This recipe and photos were provided by Sally Roeckell of Table and Dish and were originally published at

I was completely unaware of the popularity of Cincinnati Chili. Not being from Ohio, I had not heard the tales of this recipe being passed down. I grew up making chili without cheese or pasta, but rather a simple dollop of sour cream on top and maybe a little shredded cheese garnish. I had no idea the decadence that was happening just one state over in Ohio. I have found several recipes for Cincinnati Chili, some call for pre-cooking the pasta, others call for adding the pasta dry at the same time that you add the beef stock that’s cooking the pasta. I did it the latter way to try something new and I’m so glad that I did. The pasta cooked and the beef stock is so much more rich and flavorful. Sadly, the visual aspect of the chili isn’t quite as pretty with dark brown pasta, but the taste made up for it.

Cincinnati Chili with Spoon

The people of Cincinnati enjoy their chili spooned over freshly-made pasta and topped with a combination of onions, shredded cheddar cheese, refried beans or kidney beans and crushed oyster crackers. If you choose ” The Works,” you are eating what they call Five-Way Chili. Make sure to pile on the toppings – that’s what sets it apart from any other chili dish.

From what I have read, Macedonian immigrant, Tom Kiradjieff created Cincinnati Chili in 1922. With his brother, John, Kiradjieff opened a small Green restaurant called The Empress. The restaurant did poorly, however, until Kiradjieff started offering a chili made with Middle Eastern spices which could be served in a variety of ways. He called it “spaghetti Chili.” Kiradjieff’s “five-way” was a concoction of a mound of spaghetti topped with chili, chopped onion, kidney beans and shredded yellow cheese, served with oyster crackers and a side order of hot dogs topped with more shredded cheese.

Cincinnati Chili Ingredients

Wow, that is a plateful. I have combined recipes to create my own twist on Cincinnati Chili. I’m using elbow pasta instead of spaghetti and cooking it in the chili pot. I have stayed true to the original recipe’s spices, especially the cocoa/ chocolate. This blend of seasonings made this chili outstanding.

Cincinnati Chili in Bowl

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Cincinnati Chili.

A Beginner’s Guide to Cincinnati Chili

A Beginner’s Guide to Cincinnati Chili


  • 1 pint beef stock or broth
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced ( to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and coarsely-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1- 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes or fresh-chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1- 16 oz. package pasta, uncooked and dried
  • 1 to 2 - 16 oz. cans kidney beans
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese


  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, crumble raw ground beef, breaking up the pieces of meat. Sauté until cooked through. Remove the pot and set aside.
  2. To the same pot, add onion, garlic, chili powder, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, cayenne pepper, cocoa or chocolate, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and cider vinegar. Stop and smell the magic happening in this pan right now.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, add the beef back to the chili. Add the stock and let simmer, uncovered for approximately 1 hour as the sauce thickens. Add the uncooked pasta and the kidney beans. If the chili has reduced too far, add one cup of additional stock to cook the pasta. When the pasta is cooked, stir in 8 oz. of shredded cheese. Serve garnished with more cheese, chopped onion and jalapeno pepper.
Heinen's Grocery Store

By Heinen's Grocery Store

In 1929, Joe Heinen opened the doors of a small butcher shop on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, aiming to establish himself as the city’s purveyor of quality meats. As customers came into Heinen’s new shop for their meat purchases, they began asking him to carry groceries as well. Joe added homemade peanut butter, pickles and donuts and by 1933, business had grown enough to include a line of produce and canned goods. Heinen’s Grocery Store was born.

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