Healthy Turkey Chili
Growing up, our local chili cook-off was one of my favorite weekends of the year. My sisters and I would make the rounds with our sample cups, furiously debating which batch would receive our precious voting tokens. I typically leaned towards a more classic recipe, one that had just enough of a bite to wake me up without lighting my lips on fire. Today’s Healthy Turkey Chili is exactly the sort I’d consider a blue ribbon award-winner.
This 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 Question. Chili: Beans or No Beans?
I’m typically in camp “beans” (reference: Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili and Crockpot White Chicken Chili), but for this Healthy 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 savoryness 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 wouldn’t have turned down either bowl, even if the no-bean chili would have gotten my precious voting token.
I owe this Healthy Turkey Chili recipe to my friend Lexi. She recently released her first cookbook, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, and it is packed with goodness! All 150 (yes, 1-5-0) recipes use whole foods and are Paleo friendly, and Lexi has included all sorts of helpful tips and options for each.
I love this book because it is healthy without being preachy. Whether you follow a Paleo diet or simply want recipes that are healthy but won’t leave you feeling deprived (ME!), Lexi’s book has something to offer.
In addition to a beautiful photo and personal story, each recipe includes helpful tips, such as how to prepare different elements in advance, bonus flavor twists that give you even more ways to enjoy the recipe, and easy tweaks to fit the recipe to your or your family’s specific dietary needs (nut free, egg free, etc.). You’ll find a good mix of healthy versions of everyday favorites (such as this Healthy Turkey Chili), along with more creative options (I have Grilled Peach Prosciutto Flatbread bookmarked for summer) and a tantalizing selection of desserts (Carrot Cake Bars—HAPPENING).
Although I followed Lexi’s recipe 96% of the way, I did tweak a few of the spices to suit our preferred level of heat and shortened the cook time. Lexi’s version calls for slowly simmering the Healthy Turkey 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 Healthy 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.
Lexi is graciously offering one lucky reader a copy of her cookbook (thanks, Lexi!).
*Giveaway ended. Thank you to all who entered and congrats to the winner!*
Healthy Turkey Chili
The BEST Healthy Turkey Chili. Thick and rich with just the right amount of spice. This hearty, warming chili is easy to make and will be your new favorite!
Yield: 8 servings (16 cups of very thick chili)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours (original method); 1 hour (quick method)
Total Time: 3 1/2 hours (original method); 1 1/2 hours (quick method)
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 sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of 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.
Adapted from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen// All images and text © /Well Plated.
Serving Size: 1 (of 8), about 2 cups
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 227 Calories
- Total Fat: 10g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Cholesterol: 91mg
- Sodium: 741mg
- Carbohydrates: 14g
- Fiber: 4g
- Sugar: 4g
- Protein: 24g
Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!
Giveaway open to U.S. residents age 18 and older and will remain open until Tuesday, January 31st at 10 a.m. CST. One (1) winner will be chosen and will be contacted via the email address used to leave the winning comment. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, at which point a new winner will be chosen. Thanks, Lexi, for offering this copy of your book to our lucky winner!