By Cassie Johnston
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Gluten-Free, Freezer-Friendly, Slow Cooker
Ready in 1 hour
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I know that chili is a pretty personal dish. In some regions, it’s sacrilege to put beans in your chili. Other people like chili so hot it makes your eyes water. I personally love thick and hearty chili, but I know some folks like chili thinner like soup. It’s hard to land on a chili that everyone loves, but let me tell you, I’ve got one. Meet taco chili.
I’ve never met someone who didn’t like this taco chili. It’s a recipe that’s been in my family for years, and has been served to hundreds of people and met with hundreds of rave reviews—including from the girls on my dorm floor during my freshman year in college. Whenever I’d come back from a weekend visit home, Mama would send me with a big pot of taco chili, a bag of tortilla chips, and a tub of sour cream. We’d line up the chili, chips, and cream on the floor of my dorm room and invite all of our floormates over to snack on homemade chili and gossip about the boys’ floor.
My favorite part about this chili (other than the taste) is that it’s incredibly versatile. You can serve it as a dip for tortilla chips like we did in my dorm. You can serve it on top of macaroni and topped with cheese, diced onions and sour cream and make the tastiest chili mac you’ve ever had. You can serve it with cornbread for dipping. You can put it on top of hot dogs and make some seriously yummy coney dogs.
It’s also incredibly easy to make. The “taco” part of this chili comes from its super easy flavor ingredient—taco seasoning! Yup, instead of pulling out 300 different spices from your cubbard, the majority of the flavor of this dish comes from a packet of taco seasoning. Easy peasy! Of course, you can also make your own taco seasoning and get the same awesome flavor, plus have the ability to customize the flavor to your family’s liking.
The original version of this recipe calls for two whole pounds of ground beef, and while it’s totally delicious when made that way, it’s also incredibly heavy and calorie-dense. I instead tend to switch out the ground beef for leaner turkey – you still get lots of awesome flavor in a much lighter dish. My recommendation is to go for a ground turkey with a little bit of fat. Skip the 99% fat-free stuff—it’s also 99% flavor free!
I’ve also made it with half turkey/half beef and half turkey/half spicy chorizo sausage. Both delicious!
Worth noting, I’ve also made this chili in the slow cooker no less than a billion times, and it turns out just as well as it does on the stove top. I don’t brown or pre-cook anything. Just toss it all in and put in on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6—making sure you stir it a few times during cooking to break up the ground turkey.
It also freezes really well! Let it cool then freeze it flat in gallon freezer bags. When you’re ready to eat, either warm it up on the stove, or plop the chili popsicle in the slow cooker and let it warm up slowly while you do other things.
If you really want to please a crowd, make up a batch of this stuff, and then set up a chili bar for everyone to customize their own bowl. I like to put out bowls of diced green onions, minced cilantro, chopped avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, elbow macaroni, sliced olives, and saltines, and let people go to town! It’s a great way to feed a crowd in the fall and winter, and it’s really easy on the host because you can make the chili and chop all the toppings ahead of time. Just bring it all out, set out some bowls and spoons, and wait for the compliments to come in.
This thick and hearty Taco Chili is surprisingly light thanks to a base of lean ground turkey. It’s a definite crowd-pleaser!
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Rate this recipe
This looks delicious. The addition of the taco seasonings sounds like it would give it a unique flavor.
I wish it was a little cooler in Atlanta, so that I could make this to enjoy during the football games this weekend! Your post about blog income inspired me to sign up for ZipList, so I’ve saved this one there! Can’t wait to make it.
I’m so hungry right now. I want to reach into the computer screen and grab a bowl of this. Looks AMAZING! I wish my husband liked chili. *sigh*
I made Turkey chili today! I was searching for a good recipe all morning. Yours looks 5000 times better than mine! I’m definitely going to try this recipe next time. Salsa is such a good idea! I have been making extras lately to freeze and chili is such an easy one!
Hi! I love your blog! You have such a lovely voice and approach to things. Also, I tried this recipe (using your taco seasoning recipe), and it was amazing. Even my husband, who (somehow) doesn’t like chilli, loved it!
I don’t usually take the time to comment on recipes I use, but they’re not usually THIS DELICIOUS. I like spicy, so I added a serrano pepper and a jalapeno and used hot salsa. I was very heavy handed with the spices and garlic as well. Seriously, this recipe is amazing. I can’t stop eating it. OM NOM NOM.
What a wonderful dish for the cold weather! I just wanted to let you know that I have a food photo submission site (Simply Creative Recipes) and I am linking to this post if you don’t mind. You are welcome to submit your recipes at my site if you’d like.
Delicious. Changed it up with 4 cheese spaghetti sauce because I had 1/2 can left. Threw in diced tomatoes with chills, and used 1 can kidney beans and 1 lb of turkey. There are only 2 of us and it still made a lot. The taco and salsa additions added heat and so much flavor.
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