Easy Turkey Chili
Easy Turkey Chili is a hearty and delicious weeknight dinner recipe. It's made with healthy ground turkey, kidney beans, and tasty chili spices. It's a guaranteed winner!
Who needs a big bowl of turkey chili to warm up? (I'm picturing hands raising all over this frozen continent of ours.)
I could (and often do) eat chili on the weekly during winter. But even when the sun is shining and I've got sandals on my feet, I won't pass up a bowl of my favorite one pot dinner. It's just too good!
Why you will love this turkey chili recipe
- Using turkey meat instead of ground beef makes this chili have only 356 calories per serving!
- Richly flavored and low in calories = awesome. Thank you, healthy turkey.
- It's so easy to make. And quick. This is not a recipe you simmer for hours on end. Cause hello, we're hungry now!
- The 20 minutes while the chili simmers on the stove gives you more than enough time to tidy your kitchen so that after dinner all you have to do is wash a couple bowls, a couple spoons, and one pot. Easy after dinner clean up is THE BEST!
- This is meal prep at its best. Anyone who's eaten leftover chili knows that it's even better than it was the day before. Make a big batch and love your lunch.
- Or make an even bigger batch, freeze half, then pat yourself on the back next week when you don't feel like cooking and you remember this chili is waiting for you in your freezer. Nicely done!
- I almost always make this chili recipe on my stovetop, but it's super easy to make in your slow cooker, too.
- Healthy, easy to make, and delicious, this recipe checks all the boxes.
What to serve with this easy turkey chili?
There's no reason not to make this chili the one and only star of your dinner table. It's a delicious and healthy dinner recipe all on its own. But sometimes it's nice to share the dinner table with some tasty sides. Here are our favorites:
- The Best Greek Salad Recipe – we love this one with chili!
- Avocado Cucumber Salad
- Mexican Corn Dip with Jalapeños and Avocado – this is delicious as a chili topping!
- Cheesy Zucchini Cornbread Muffins
- Easy Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
What toppings go with chili?
Everything! Seriously, chili is so versatile that you can put nearly everything on top. I've even made a chocolate chili, which sounds super weird but is super delicious! Here are my favorite ingredients to put on top of chili:
- sour cream
- cheddar cheese
- green onions
- corn tortilla chips
- diced avocados
- chopped tomatoes
- shredded lettuce
- Sliced jalapeños
- Chopped cilantro
- Crispy bacon (ok, so I've never tried this but it just came to my mind and now I can't figure out why I've never done this before.)
What are your favorite chili toppings?
This healthy turkey chili is a recipe I first shared with you back in 2014, and one I've made frequently since. The original recipe called for adding chicken stock to the pot, but I prefer it without. It's thicker and heartier without it.
It's really common for chili recipes to include some liquid in the ingredients. Occasionally, it is needed to loosen the chili a little. But the last thing I want is a thin, watery, soupy chili. I'd recommend leaving it out of any chili recipe unless you absolutely think it needs a little splash.
The other change I made to the recipe is to call for either coconut sugar or honey. The original recipe calls for brown sugar. The unrefined sugar simply brings it in line with the times.
The reason to add a tiny bit of sugar to the recipe is to bring out the flavor. It's the same trick you use when making a tomato sauce. If you're going sugar-free, you can certainly omit it. But if you eat a little honey or coconut sugar, I would add it.
What beans do you use for chili?
Any kind! Seriously, there are no strict rules here. In this recipe, I've used kidney beans (also called red beans) which are the traditional chili beans. Other beans that work well are white beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, or even chickpeas.
I generally prefer kidney or cannellini beans in my chili. They're bigger and somehow seem more satisfying. But if you're making this chili on a whim, use whichever cans of beans you have in your pantry. I've even used baked beans, in a pinch.
Or you can leave the beans out entirely for a bean-free chili.
How to serve leftover chili?
Most of the time I simply warm up the leftovers. But sometimes it's nice to get a little creative and create new meals Here are a few of my favorite leftover chili recipes:
- Chili Stuffed Peppers
- Make breakfast chili by serving a bowl with a fried or poached egg on top.
- Make a taco salad and use the chili instead of the taco meat.
- Bake a potato, cut it in half, then ladle the chili over top.
- Make chili dogs! Or chili fries!
What is your favorite way to serve leftover chili?
How to make crockpot turkey chili
This turkey chili recipe can easily be made in your slow cooker. You have 2 options here:
- Dump everything into your crockpot, set the timer, and walk away. ← easiest ever!
- Brown the onions, veggies, cook the ground turkey, and mix in the spices. Then add this and the remaining ingredients to your slow cooker. This method is a bit more work but the flavor will be a bit better in the end.
Both versions can be cooked on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours so they're perfect if you want to come home after a long day and find dinner waiting for you when you arrive. And honestly, there are few better things in life than opening your front door and smelling a delicious dinner calling your name. It's pure heaven.
What makes turkey chili healthy?
The main reason I make turkey chili versus beef chili is to cut the calories. With almost 70 fewer calories per 4-ounce serving, using ground turkey often makes sense to me. It's also lower in cholesterol, which may be important to some people.
Luckily, the flavor of the chili is still rich and delicious when you use ground turkey. There are more than enough spices in this chili that you'll never know you're skimping on calories.
Favorite Chili Recipes
- Easy Vegetarian Chili
- Easy Paleo Chili Recipe
- Smoky BBQ Crockpot Chicken Chili
- Black Bean and Corn Chili with Avocado Salsa
- Guinness Spiked Irish Chili
- Vegetarian Chocolate Quinoa Chili
- Chipotle Bourbon Pumpkin Chili
Easy Turkey Chili
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 red bell peppers, minced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 ½ lb extra-lean ground turkey
- ¼ cup chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon chili flakes, or more if you like it really spicy
- 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
- 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or honey
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the onion. Mince the peppers, celery, and garlic and add them as you finish cutting them. Once the onion starts to brown, about 7-8 minutes, add the turkey and let it cook until it is no longer pink.1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 medium onion, 2 red bell peppers, 2 stalks celery, 4 cloves garlic, 1 ½ lb extra-lean ground turkey
- Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and (if using) the chili flakes. Stir the spices and break up the turkey meat into small pieces.¼ cup chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon oregano, Optional: ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- Add the tomatoes to the pot and bring the pot to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes.28 ounce can whole tomatoes
- Stir in the beans and let them warm through. Add the coconut sugar or honey then season to taste with salt and pepper.15 ounce can kidney beans, 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or honey, Salt and pepper
Hi Kristen! These photos look so appetizing and they’re making my mouth water for this chili. I love that you used Turkey in this recipe. Great ideas for toppings and all the suggestions for serving the leftovers. Also, the bonus is that this is made in a crockpot. How wonderful is that? Thanks so much for sharing.
You are so welcome!!!
I think you’ve got the slow-cooker times wrong. Low for 8 hours, high for 4. Not the other way round!
You’re right! I’ve fixed that now. 🙂
I love this chili recipe, and I love all your suggestions about sides and toppings. I often like to serve chili either over or next to brown rice. I friend of mine served it to me ages and ages ago like that, and I liked it right away.
Such a great idea for serving chili! I’ll have to try that next time I make a batch!
I made this yesterday after you posted a sneak preview on Instagram. I’m so happy I did! Dinner was incredible and I’m looking forward to lunch already. Thank you for another great recipe!
That makes me so happy to hear! Hooray!!
I definitely agree. This recipe is a healthy and flavorful dish. I love that it’s turkey and the chili made it even better. I would really love this for dinner.
The turkey in this was really good. So much flavour and still so healthy. 🙂