With protein-rich turkey, sweet potatoes, peppers, and just the right amount of spice, this is hands-down the BEST Turkey Chili! It develops incredible flavor as it simmers on the stovetop and tastes even better leftover.
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Why You’ll Love This Easy Turkey Chili Recipe
- Seriously, the Best Turkey Chili Ever. Rich and meaty, thick in texture, and deeply flavored with a mix of smoky and sweet elements makes this chili award-worthy. It will be your go-to chili!
- Perfect for a Crowd. This big batch chili is ready for crowd (same with my Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes). Set out an array of chili toppings, pile bowls high, and watch as your guests happily fill their spoons with this hearty chili.
- Leftovers are the Bestovers. Chili is one of those magic recipes that tastes even better the next day. Save this scrumptious chili for yourself and enjoy a week’s worth (or longer if frozen) of nutritious meals.
- It’s Good For You. Not only is it delicious, but this turkey chili is healthy too (as is my Instant Pot Chili). The turkey adds filling protein, and the vegetables contribute fiber, vitamins, and more.
- It’s Relatively Quick and Easy. I owe this healthy turkey chili recipe to my friend Lexi, but I made some tweaks to shorten the cooking time and make it more accessible for busy weeknights. In a total time of just over an hour, you can make a gloriously thick, aromatic pot of turkey chili. (This White Chicken Chili is ready in 40 minutes if you need something faster! It could even be made into a white turkey chili.)
5 Star Review
“Prepare to be blown away by this turkey chili – it is the best I have ever tasted.”— Anne Marie —
How to Make the Best Turkey Chili Recipe
- Ground Turkey. Lean ground turkey is excellent for chili. It adds wonderful flavor to the chili and helps make it more satisfying. Turkey is low in calories and rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Garlic + Onion. Building blocks for a deeply flavorful chili.
- Vegetables. Bell peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, and celery help make this chili incredibly nutritious and flavorful. The varying textures of these veggies also create a wonderful chili consistency.
- Tomato Sauce + Diced Tomatoes. The tomato sauce adds liquid, and both provide rich tomato flavor.
- Spices. We’re using chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. This mix of spices is what gives chili its distinct flavor. They add warmth, earthiness, a touch of sweetness, and spice.
- Red Pepper Flakes. Just a pinch adds the right amount of heat.
- Sauté the Vegetables. Cook until soft.
- Brown the Turkey. Stir frequently to break up any big chunks.
- Cook the Chili. Add the remaining ingredients, bring the mixture to a boil, then allow it to simmer for 45 minutes.
- Serve. Adjust seasonings as desired and ENJOY!
Turkey Chili Toppings
- Avocado. One of our favorite chili toppings! Creamy avocado slices pair incredibly well with the chili. Homemade Guacamole is delish too.
- Jalapeño. For those who enjoy their chili with a kick. For heat with less spice, use Pickled Jalapeños.
- Shredded Cheese. This one is a crowd-pleaser! Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, or cheddar cheese would be tasty.
- Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream for something cool and creamy.
- Cilantro. Looks beautiful on top and adds freshness.
- Tortilla Chips or Strips. Having something crunchy on top is delicious! (I especially love this topping for my Green Chili Recipe.)
- Green Onion. For freshness and crunch.
- To Store. Turkey chili will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. Add a splash of water or chicken broth to help loosen it if needed.
- To Freeze. Turkey chili can be frozen for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Chop all the vegetables up to 1 day in advance, storing them in separate airtight storage containers in the refrigerator.
Ways to Serve Turkey Chili
- With Bread for Dunking. We love Jalapeno Cornbread or Cornbread Muffins.
- Over a Baked Potato. See my perfect Baked Potato or Air Fryer Baked Potato for a recipe. An Air Fryer Sweet Potato would be tasty too!
- Fries. Chili fries are delish for a reason! Use my Homemade Fries, Air Fryer French Fries, or Sweet Potato Fries.
- Rice or Noodles. For those who enjoy their chili over a bed of rice or noodles, try whole wheat spaghetti noodles, brown rice, white rice, or even quinoa.
Recommended Tools to Make This Turkey Chili
- Dutch Oven. The perfect large pot for making chili on the stove top.
- Measuring Spoons. I love how easy it is to store these.
- Ladle. My preferred tool for serving chili.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Bring on the Beans. If you can’t imagine a bowl of chili without beans, have no fear! You can easily incorporate beans into this recipe. Black beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans would be great.
- Make it Thick. For those who like a thicker chili (me!), don’t add any water in Step 2. You can even simmer your chili a little bit longer if needed.
- Build Big Flavor. Each step of making this chili is vitally important to creating exceptional flavor. Browning some of the ingredients first (vegetables and turkey) is the secret to amazing chili. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts!
Healthy Turkey Chili
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 1/2-2 cups water more as needed
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes in their juices
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes
Optional Turkey Chili Toppings:
- Sliced fresh avocado
- Thinly sliced jalapeño
- Shredded cheese
- Plain non-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Freshly chopped cilantro
- 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 1/2 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.
- 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.
- TO ADD BEANS: Add 1 (15-ounce) can black beans and/or 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chili in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chili in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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Frequently Asked Questions
I’m typically in camp “beans” (reference: Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili, and Crockpot White Chicken Chili), but for this particular turkey chili recipe, I decided to take a walk on the no-bean chili side and omit them. 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. 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 haven’t tested the recipe without meat, and I’m afraid it wouldn’t be as flavorful without it. However, my Vegetarian Chili and Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili are great options for those who want meat-free chili.
Yes! We love using ground turkey in our chili recipes, as it’s a great source of lean protein and still adds hearty flavor. If you prefer using ground beef in your chili, you can certainly swap it.
While I haven’t tried it myself, other readers have reported success with it. If you’d like to experiment, I’d suggest following the recipe through step 2 and then transferring over to the slow cooker and adding the remaining ingredients. Similar chili recipes cook for 3–4 hours on low and 4–6 hours on high, but since that depends on the slow cooker, you’ll want to check for doneness earlier than that. The liquid level may need to be adjusted too, as it won’t evaporate as much as it would on the stove.