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Cincinnati Chili

One of my favorite foods to make is Cincinnati Chili.

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Cincinnati Chili is interesting for two reasons. First, the texture is different from that of most chilis. Rather than browning ground beef, the chili substrate is made by breaking raw ground beef up into cold water and bringing that to a boil. You wind up with a much finer texture than you would otherwise. Second, Cincinnati Chili gets a lot of its flavor from cocoa powder and cinnamon. It’s not sweet by any means, but it’s much different from other chilis.

I used to rely on this recipe from Wikibooks, but measuring out all the spices takes forever. I recently re-coded the recipe to use weights, and I can throw together the spice mixture in less than ten minutes. It’s impressive.

Anyway, grab a medium-sized bowl and put it on top of your favorite kitchen scale. If you don’t have .25 gram precision, don’t worry about it too much. Just kinda winging it is okay, we’re not baking here.

Into that bowl, put the following:

  • Vinegar – 13 g
  • Worstershire sauce – 4 g
  • Chili powder – 23 g
  • Salt – 23 g
  • Cocoa powder (unsweetened) – 3 g
  • Cumin (ground) – 1 g
  • Oreagano – .5 g
  • Cayanne pepper – .5 g
  • Black pepper (ground) – .5 g
  • Cinnamon – .5 g
  • Allspice (ground) – .5 g
  • Marjoram – .25 g
  • Bay leaves – 2

Add to that

  • Garlic, 2 cloves finely chopped
  • Onion, 1 large or 2 small, chopped
  • Tomato paste, 1 can

Put that aside. Get a decent sized pot, and put in one quart of cold water. Put two pounds of ground beef in there along with your spice mixture, then get your hands in there. You want to make a thin beef slurry.

Bring that to a boil, cover, and let it simmer for about two hours. You’ll know it’s getting ready when it starts taking on a reddish tinge like this.

Serve over spaghetti, covered with a generous portion of grated cheddar cheese and oyster crackers. Add beans if you must. Serves around 6.


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