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