Overhead of a full bowl of finished turkey chili with spoon and linen napkin alongside.

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 my Taco Turkey 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. It has been served to hundreds of people and met with hundreds of rave reviews—including from the girls on my dorm floor during college. Whenever I’d come back from a weekend visit home, my 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 (usually while watching Friends or ER). This is my signature chili, and I’m so excited to share it with you!

A full bowl of taco turkey chili garnished with lime, sour cream, and cilantro sits on a plate with tortilla chips.

What’s the secret ingredient?

The “taco” part of this turkey chili comes from its super easy flavor secret ingredient—taco seasoning! Yup, instead of pulling out 300 different spices from your cupboard, the majority of the flavor of this dish comes from a packet of taco seasoning and a jar of salsa. 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.

What kind of meat do I need?

The original recipe passed down through the generations of my family called for two pounds of ground beef, but I really like the light flavor of ground turkey in this recipe. I’ve also made it with half turkey/half beef and half turkey/half spicy chorizo sausage. All delicious! Feel free to experiment with your own favorite meat combination.

Overhead of two bowls filled with chili surrounded by fresh garnishes and tortilla chips.

How do you make turkey chili from scratch?

You’ll need about an hour to make this taco chili on the stovetop. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Brown the meat in a Dutch oven or soup pot.
  2. Add some celery, onion, and garlic, and cook until tender.
  3. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Serve and top to your liking!

Collage of all the ingredients for chili in a pot with each ingredient separate and all the ingredients stirred together.

How can I make this turkey chili in the slow cooker?

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 stovetop. I don’t brown or pre-cook anything. Just toss it all in and put it on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4-6—make sure you stir it a few times during cooking to break up the ground turkey.

This chili is thick! Is it okay to thin it out?

I like a good thick, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs chili, and this turkey chili is definitely that. If you enjoy a thinner chili, just thin it out with a bit of broth, water, or tomato juice.

Can I freeze taco turkey chili?

This turkey chili 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.

Close-up of full bowl of taco chili on a plate with spoon and tortilla chips.

How do I serve taco chili?

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.

What goes well with turkey chili?

I like to serve chili with a pile of tortilla chips and call it a day—cornbread and noodles also do the trick!

If you really want to please a crowd, make up a batch of this turkey chili, 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. Enjoy!



Close-up of full bowl of taco chili on a plate with spoon and tortilla chips.

Taco Turkey Chili

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This turkey chili is a classic in our family for good reason—it's packed full of flavor, easy to make, and tastes really good scooped with tortilla chips!


  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 2 pounds ground turkey, ground beef, or a combination of the two
  • 3 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 14-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16-ounce jar of salsa (mild or hot, depending on your preference)
  • 1 8-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup (2 packages) taco seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth, optional (to thin out if you prefer thinner chili)
  • Salt and hot sauce, to taste
  • Chili toppings (cheese, sour cream, cilantro, onions, etc.)


  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add in the ground meat, and cook until brown, about 10 minutes. Do not drain.
  2. Add in the celery, onion, and garlic, and cook until just tender and fragrant, about five minutes.
  3. Add in the kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, salsa, tomato paste, corn, taco seasoning, cumin, and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until thick and bubbly.
  4. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and hot sauce, if desired.
  5. If you prefer thinner chili, thin it out with the chicken broth, a little at a time until it's your preferred thickness. Serve topped with favorite chili toppings.


  • If you are making this gluten-free, check that your taco seasoning is gluten-free!
  • To make in the slow cooker: Put all ingredients in the slow cooker 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.
  • This chili 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.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 646Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 134mgSodium: 1620mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 13gSugar: 18gProtein: 48g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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*

  7. 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.