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 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

About This Healthy Turkey Chili

I’m typically in camp “beans” (reference: Instant Pot Vegetarian ChiliCrockpot White Chicken Chili, and turkey Instant Pot Turkey 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

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 (here’s Chili Mac and Cheese and White Chicken Chili in less than 40 minutes if you need faster!).

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

Healthy Turkey Chili

4.90 from 108 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)



  • 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 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
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes


  • 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.
  • 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.


Serving: 1(of 8), about 2 cupsCalories: 227kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 24gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 91mgFiber: 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 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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  1. My husband and I are obsessed with this chili. It’s my favorite chili ever and I feel like it’s hugging us every time I eat it. So healthy and nutritious!! Thank you, Erin!5 stars

    1. Hi Michelle! Yes, you should be able to freeze this. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Hope this helps!

  2. I am cooking mine in slow cooker because I have more things to do.
    The chili looks really good. Having it at supper. Thanks for the recipe

  3. Thank you Erin, for this awesome, healthy recipe!
    I’ve made this 4 times now and we love it! The only thing that I do differently is that I bloom the spices in the browned turkey for a couple of minutes (stirring) before I add the liquid and the rest of the ingredients. I always add the sweet potato for nutrition,….it’s hard to tell that it’s even there. A combination of red and green peppers is nice. I love that it makes a lot so that I can freeze in my Souper Cube portions for nights when I need a break from cooking.5 stars

  4. Oh my goodness Erin- this chili is absolutely fantastic! The only time consuming part is chopping all the vegetables; but, it is so worth the effort. I highly recommend adding the dollop of plain greek yogurt to each bowl- it really tames the spices down nicely.5 stars

  5. Briefly considered doubling the spice as I often do in recipes, but very glad I didn’t! Really good kick to the recipe.5 stars

    1. Hi Cheyenne! You could, it might just change the flavor slightly. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

      1. I made this and ended up doing half water half chicken broth. It was amazing!!! I just finished the left overs today. Can’t wait to make this again.5 stars

  6. This is the BEST chili ever. I’ve been making it for over 2 years now and everyone loves it… even my husband who does not like turkey. He thinks it’s regular chili.5 stars

  7. Omg we are obsessed with this chili and make it all the time!! Do you think it’s possible to add butternut squash into it??5 stars

    1. Hi Juanita! So glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thank you for your kind review! I think you could! If you decide to experiment with it, let me know how it goes!

  8. I’ve made this recipe for several gatherings and parties and it is always a hit. I can’t tel you how many times I’ve shared the recipe (upon request!). Don’t leave out the sweet potato. I usually add a finely diced jalapeño just to bring the heat up a little more. This chili pairs perfectly with cornbread. It’s perfect and healthy too- I love love love this recipe!5 stars

  9. Loved it! made it twice now. Added 3 cans of beans. Pretty spicy though, might do less chili powder next time :)5 stars

  10. 10/10 🙌 this chili is a new favorite in our house! My husband usually isn’t thrilled with a veggie filled chili and he LOVED this! It will be on winter repeat! Easy Meal + minimal dishes= a win!5 stars

    1. Hi Brenda! I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online ( is popular). I hope that helps!

  11. This is our very favorite chili. I love the flavors and the ground turkey is such dense meat, it is truly satisfying. My husband prefers without the carrots and celery, so I add extra chiles – poblanos and serranos or anaheims – whatever I have on hand. I also add the spices in the first step to cook them down a bit before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. This dish is truly spectacular tasting. No one I’ve served it to guessed it was ground turkey and we all appreciate how remarkably healthy it is. I can have a very generous serving for very few Weight Watcher points, which is a HUGE bonus for me.

    Thank you so much for the great dish, Erin – also loving your book!!!5 stars

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