Today calls for the BEST Healthy Turkey Chili! October is showing off here in all the right ways—football, flannel, flame-colored leaves, and footwear (yay, BOOTS)—so, it’s time for this delicious chili. It’s packed with lean protein and veggies, can be a spicy turkey chili if you like (or not spicy if that’s your family’s preference), and a few readers have even reported entering it into chili cookoffs and emerging at the top. That officially makes it an award-winning turkey chili recipe too!

Two bowls of the BEST Healthy Turkey Chili.

In addition to the season, chili has been big on my brain, as I spent most of this past weekend working on a new healthy chili recipe for my upcoming cookbook. After several test batches, a run to the store for additional storage containers, and subjecting Ben to multiple blind taste tests, I’ve had an ample amount of time to reflect on the qualities that take a chili from “good enough” to “gobble it up.”

I’m pleased to report I nailed it! Like every recipe in my book, that upcoming chili is gobble-it-up-good, a highly unofficial term that I am officially adopting as a cookbook recipe standard.

Since I can’t share that chili recipe yet (AHHH you are going to love it!), I wanted to share this healthy turkey chili in the meantime. It’s fall, we need chili, and this recipe shares many of the same qualities I seek from my pot of chili.

This turkey chili recipe is classic in flavor, thick in texture, and ready for any and all of your favorite chili toppings.

I opted to use ground turkey (my preference), but you could easily use lean ground beef and still have a healthy chili, if that’s more your style. Lots of chunky vegetables ensure this chili is still plenty wholesome.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, I need to ask you a Very Important Turkey Chili Question.

Beans or No Beans?

The BEST Healthy Turkey Chili. Thick and rich with just the right amount of spice. Loaded with bell pepper, sweet potato, and avocado. NO BEANS. Healthy, filling, and absolutely delicious. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

About This Healthy Turkey Chili

I’m typically in camp “beans” (reference: Instant Pot Vegetarian ChiliCrockpot White Chicken Chili, and turkey Instant Pot Chili), but for this particular turkey chili recipe, I decided to take a walk on the no-bean chili side and omit them.

I reasoned I could taste the chili at the very end of its cooking time and add them at the last minute if I felt the recipe was lacking.

Verdict: I loved the healthy turkey chili without beans. It’s plenty thick, rich, and filling on its own, and I felt that the no-bean route allowed the savoriness of the meat and the depth of the spices to shine. (Another no-bean chili delight? This Green Chili recipe!)

That said, if you are a firm believer that chili should have beans and want to toss in a can of pintos or red kidneys, your healthy turkey chili will still be fabulous.

I owe this healthy turkey chili recipe to my friend Lexi. She released her first cookbook last year, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, and it is packed with 150 (yes, 1-5-0) recipes that use whole foods and are Paleo friendly, this turkey chili included.

Award-winning Healthy Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes, lean turkey, and avocado. Perfectly spiced, easy, and filling! Just 227 calories per serving! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

How Do You Make Healthy Turkey Chili?

My version of Lexi’s healthy turkey chili recipe follows her formula—brown the aromatics, add the turkey and a heap of colorful veggies, spice it up, let simmer—with a few shortcuts and adjustment of spices to suit our tastes.

The biggest shortcut is the cook time. The original healthy turkey chili recipe calls for slowly simmering chili on the stove for three hours, which I am sure gives it incredible depth of flavor. I hope to try it that way one snowy weekend when I’ve adequately planned ahead.

Because I was running behind schedule the day I made this healthy turkey chili (typical), I decided to see if I could speed it along by cranking up the heat from a gentle simmer to a more aggressive boil.

In 45 minutes, I had a gloriously thick, aromatic pot of turkey chili that we devoured all week long. I can only imagine how wonderful it will be when I cook it the low, slow way that Lexi suggests. (If your preferred low and slow method is a healthy turkey chili crockpot adaptation, check out my Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili.)

Healthy Turkey Chili. Only 227 calories with 24 g. protein per serving! Easy and gluten free with just the right amount of spice.

Recommended Tools to Make This Turkey Chili

The BEST Healthy Turkey Chili. — Only 227 calories and 24 g. protein per serving! Hearty, warm, filling with the perfect amount of spice. This simple recipe will be your new chili go-to! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

Healthy Turkey Chili

4.91 from 85 votes
The BEST turkey chili! A thick, rich healthy turkey chili with just the right amount of spice. Award winning recipe that will be your new favorite!

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Total: 1 hr 15 mins

Servings: 8 servings (16 cups of very thick chili)

Ingredients
  

FOR THE HEALTHY TURKEY CHILI:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 2 bell peppers any color, cored and chopped
  • 2 large carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato peeled and cubed (optional—I added it!)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey I used 93% lean
  • 1 ½-2 cups water more as needed
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in their juices (14.5 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½  teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

  • Sliced fresh avocado
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño
  • Shredded cheese
  • Plain non-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Freshly chopped cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and sweet potato. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft.
  • Add the turkey and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often to break up the chunks.
  • Once the meat is browned, add 1 ½ cups water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes in their juices, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a moderate bubble. Let cook, uncovered, until the chili thickens, about 45 minutes, stirring every so often so that the chili does not stick to the bottom. If the chili becomes too thick, add a little water to reach your desired consistency.
  • Toward the end of the cooking time, taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Add more cayenne pepper for an extra kick and more salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with desired toppings.

Notes

  • Lexi’s original version of the chili calls for slowly simmering it (in lieu of my “moderate bubble”) on the stove for 3 hours, adding more water as needed. Since I started cooking the chili later in the day (ahem, I was running late), I cooked it more quickly, which you will see reflected in the recipe directions.
  • Want to add beans? Lexi suggests adding 1 (15-ounce) can black beans and/or 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans.
  • Store leftover chili in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8), about 2 cupsCalories: 227kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 24gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 741mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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396 Comments

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  1. First of all, I’m a “chilianykindofway” person. I typically add extra ingredients to stretch it out or put over pasta or quinoa. I made this recipe last week and when my kids remark “MOM THIS CHILI IS FIRE!” I know it’s a keeper. Mind you, my children are 25, 26, 30 and 31. I followed the directions using garbanzo beans and I had a combo if butternut squash and yams (because they came precut) and threw it all together then sat on the stove for what ended up being hours. Wow, it was really tasty..and it was completely gone before noon next day.
    This one’s a winner! Thank you!5 stars

  2. We make this every other week and eat it for lunches. It’s part of our routine now. So many Turkey Chili’s lack flavor but but this doesn’t at all. It’s chock full of veggies and Turkey and has a rich flavor. Addictive. We top ours with avocado and fresh jalapeños. Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  3. I love this chili! I’ve made a few little alterations. I leave out the tomato sauce and add some chicken stock. I use 1 lb of turkey and add a can of garbanzo beans. I always add the sweet potato! My family loves it!5 stars

  4. Making this now and it smells delicious. I am skeptical about the calorie count, though. I put it through two calculators (Verywellfit and Happy Forks) and it came out as either 250 or 337! I know calculators are imperfect at best, but I would say the recipe calculation here for 1/8th of the recipe is reading low.

    1. Hi Mary! The nutrition information is just an estimate and can differ based on the exact ingredients used. For the most accurate numbers, I recommend using an online calculator (as you mentioned). I hope you enjoyed it!

  5. Absolutely loved this Chili!! I added two cans of kidney beans to the original recipe. This will be my go to Chili recipe!5 stars

  6. 3rd time I’ve made this. Love it. Slight variation – I add mixed beans andLOADS more cumin and spices but fundamentally the same recipe and I love it!! The sweet potato is genius!5 stars

  7. Best chili with no beans I have ever had. Plus side being a healthier alternative then the mass marketed Chili’s out there. Thanks5 stars

  8. I have been making this chili recipe for two years now and it’s always a huge hit. I got lazy and just throw everything in my crockpot now because mom life.. and it’s still so good! Making it again for super bowl Sunday with my toddler who used to eat it when she was first starting baby led weaning as an infant!5 stars

  9. I just made this the other day and having it for the first time today. Its excellent-very tasty and i added the sweet potato. BUUTTT the 1 teaspoon Cayenne is too much I feel. I added 1/4 tsp and my mouth is on fire….I’m not sure why it’s sooo spicy b/c the other ingredients i measured to the recipe. I’ll have to adjust it to 1/8 tsp next time. No one else had this problem?4 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed it otherwise, Michelle! You can certainly adjust the cayenne amount to suit your tastes for next time.

  10. This is the best turkey chili that I have ever eaten. My husband, who usually just eats the turkey chili I make because that is what I am serving, really liked this recipe too, and he ate the leftovers for lunch the next couple of days. I am making this again very soon.5 stars

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