You don’t need to simmer and wait for hours in order to have a flavorful chili. This Ground Turkey Chili is full of spice and flavor, and ready to eat in 45 minutes. It’s quick to make, and leftovers keep beautifully. Round out the meal with some Homemade Cornbread and Cilantro Lime Rice for an epic feast!

Turkey Chili - In a Bowl Garnished with Sour Cream, Cheese, and Cilantro

Even though I love a classic beef rendition, this ground turkey chili gives it some serious competition. It has a cohesive, well-spiced flavor in every bite, and a tender texture full of ground turkey and black beans. A lot of people think of turkey as a boring meat, but during recipe testing, I played with various spices and ingredients, considering how to make turkey chili taste better. I can’t get enough of this stuff, and especially love the leftovers.

Why This Recipe Is The Best

Doesn’t need extensive simmering – This recipe only takes 45 minutes to make, which is very fast for a chili. Ground turkey doesn’t need as long of a simmering time to develop a very tender texture.

Full flavor and spice, without being too spicy – This is the best turkey chili in my eyes, because it has a nice level of spice and full flavor, but without being outrageously spicy. I’d probably call this a medium. I also offer instructions for making it milder, if you prefer.

Made in one pot – This whole recipe is cooked in one pot, and I always appreciate how simple this makes it. My favorite recipes are the ones where it’s easy and delicious, dishwashing is minimal, and you end up with lots of leftovers, and this chili fits that to a tee.

Great for leftovers or meal prep – This is one of the best recipes for having leftovers throughout the week, because if anything, it only gets better as it sits! It’s like a Beef Stew or Chicken Cacciatore in that sense.

Turkey Chili Recipe - Garnished with Sour Cream, Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend, and Fresh Cilantro Leaves

Tips for Best Results

Use dark ground turkey – Make sure you do not buy the 99% lean ground turkey breast here. It’s too lean and doesn’t have as much flavor as dark ground turkey.

Use fresh spices – Spices, especially ground spices, tend to lose their flavor rapidly as they sit in the pantry. The general rule of thumb is that they will stay potently fresh for 3 to 6 months after opening. They won’t necessarily be “bad” at that point, but less flavorful. So try to use freshly purchased spices here for optimal flavor.

Don’t skip the toppings – Don’t get me wrong, the chili is fantastic on its own, but what chili isn’t better with some sour cream or other toppings? I share ideas below for complementary toppings that really make the ground turkey chili incredible.

Step by Step Overview:

Saute the Vegetables

Start by cooking chopped onion and celery with olive oil, salt, and pepper, for about 10 minutes:

Onion and Celery, Sauteeing in a Le Creuset Dutch Oven

The vegetables should be nice and soft, translucent in color and not brown.

Add the Ground Meat and Seasonings

Turn the heat up and brown a couple pounds of dark ground turkey meat, then add ground cumin, chili powder, ground coriander, ground chipotle, and fresh minced garlic:

Ground Turkey in Pan With Spices and Garlic Added

Stir that around for a minute, until the spices smell fragrant.

Bulk It Up

Next add a can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained and rinsed black beans, yellow cornmeal, and chicken stock:

Adding Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Cornmeal, and Black Beans to the Pot

Mix everything together, then bring the chili to a boil.

Easy Turkey Chili - Shown in a Big Pot Simmering

Simmer to Meld the Flavors and Thicken

Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the turkey chili gently for about 20 minutes, until the liquid has thickened slightly:

Turkey Black Bean Chili - Fully Cooked in the Saucepan

Serving Ideas

The ground turkey chili is now ready to serve with your favorite toppings or sides. My top four favorite toppings for the actual bowl are a dollop of sour cream, shredded Mexican cheese on top, freshly chopped cilantro leaves, or a dollop of fresh Guacamole. Crushed tortilla chips are also great for crunch.

For serving on the side, you can’t go wrong with Cornbread, Asiago Black Pepper Bread, and Cilantro Lime Rice.

Best Turkey Chili - Served in White Bowl with Sour Cream, Cilantro, and Cheese

Lettuce Wraps, Turkey Burgers, and Turkey Meatballs are some of my other favorite recipes using dark ground turkey. Enjoy!

Recipe Substitutions and Swaps

If you’d like to customize the recipe a bit, here are some substitutions that I’ve tested that work nicely.

Ground turkey – You may substitute ground chicken if you prefer. I recommend using dark ground turkey or dark ground chicken for the best texture, as ground poultry breast tends to be too lean.

Beans – I think black beans go great here, but you can use whatever canned bean you prefer, like kidney, pinto, navy, etc.

Spices – The ground chipotle in particular is quite spicy, so if you want a milder experience, swap it out for smoked paprika.

Celery – Try switching the celery out for some butternut squash for a different flavor. I also sometimes like adding leftover Roasted Butternut Squash.

Recipe Tips and FAQ:

Can you freeze leftover ground turkey chili?

Yes, it freezes well for up to 2 months in an airtight container.

How do you thaw and reheat frozen turkey chili?

I recommend moving the container from the freezer to the fridge the day before you’d like to serve it, then reheating it gently in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.

How long does leftover turkey chili keep in the fridge?

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Can you make this in the crockpot?

This recipe would actually work better in an Instant Pot (affiliate), because it’s important to soften the vegetables and brown the turkey. Saute as directed, then cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. If using a crockpot, I recommend softening the vegetables and browning the turkey first, then place all ingredients in the slow cooker on low for 2 hours.

Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.

Ground Turkey Chili in Bowl with Sour Cream and Beans

Ground Turkey Chili

This recipe is quick to make, and still manages to be delicious, well-spiced and full of flavor!
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Ingredients

For the Turkey Chili:

  • 1 cup chopped celery 
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt divided
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 lbs dark ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 28- ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 15- ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 cups chicken stock

Ideas for Serving:

  • grated cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • corn chips
  • fresh cilantro
  • guacamole or avocado slices
  • cornbread

Instructions 

  • Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the celery, onion, one tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, until softened.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the turkey to the pot and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Brown the turkey for about 5 minutes, until fully cooked through, breaking the turkey up into small pieces with your spatula.
  • Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander, chipotle, and garlic and stir for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes, black beans, cornmeal, and chicken stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes (the cornmeal has a tendency to settle at the bottom of the pan).
  • Taste the chili and add more salt if you’d like.
  • To serve, ladle the chili into bowls and top with grated cheese, sour cream, corn chips, or whatever toppings you’d like. Enjoy! 

Notes

Leftovers: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Thawing/reheating: I recommend moving the container from the freezer to the fridge the day before you’d like to serve it, then reheating it gently in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.
Other methods of cooking: You can make this in an Instant Pot (affiliate) successfully by browning the veggies and turkey, then cooking on high pressure for 5 minutes. However, if using a traditional crockpot, I recommend softening the vegetables and browning the turkey first, then place all ingredients in the slow cooker on low for 2 hours.
Ingredient Substitutions and Swaps:
  • You may use ground chicken instead of ground turkey. Use the dark meat, not breast.
  • You may use kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, or any canned bean you prefer instead of black beans.
  • To make it milder: The ground chipotle in particular is quite spicy, so if you want a milder experience, swap it out for smoked paprika.

Nutrition

Calories: 289kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 712mg, Potassium: 656mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 830IU, Vitamin C: 3.5mg, Calcium: 69mg, Iron: 3.6mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.