Ground Turkey Chili

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This Ground Turkey Chili is made with lean ground turkey, kidney beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, and plenty of spice. It has all the traditional chili flavor you love, just lightened up!

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If there is one thing I always have in my freezer all the time, it's chili. I am obsessed and there is nothing better on a busy night than a warm bowl of chili with all your favorite toppings. Even better this lightened up version made with ground turkey instead of beef.

First, let's talk about all the things that make this chili so good. It starts with a mix of sauteed onions, carrots, and celery to build a strong flavor base without needing lots of fat. Then instead of reaching for ground beef, I like to make this with super lean ground turkey.

To that, you need lots of garlic and spices. This is where the true flavors of the chili develop. Everything is finished with beans, beef broth, and tomatoes. It's ready in about 45 minutes on the stove top and can also be made in the crockpot.

Now once you have made this amazing turkey chili, you will want to use it for everything. Start traditional and serve it with all your favorite toppings - diced onions, cilantro, shredded cheese, and avocado. Then get creative with the leftovers. Love this style of soup? You'll want to try this Healthy Taco Soup as well.

Make healthy chili dogs with lean turkey or vegetarian hot dogs, Serve it over whole wheat pasta for your own homemade chili macaroni. Scramble it with eggs, trust me, it's delicious. Stuff it into a baked sweet potato - magical.

Ground Turkey Chili with pinto and kidney beans in two bowls with cheddar cheese, cilantro, and green onions.

Side Dish Ideas for Turkey Chili

Although chili can definitely be a meal on all its own, sometimes it's nice to have something on the side as well. Here are some favorites:

  • You could go the traditional route and make some cornbread or serve your chili over some Creamy Spinach Polenta for something unexpected.
  • Since chili can be on the heavier side, I love serving it with something light like a simple green salad with some homemade healthy Ranch dressing. No one would blame you for drizzling some on your chili as well.
  • Serve your chili on a bed of spaghetti squash for a healthier take on chili mac.
  • Some people swear by chili and mashed potatoes but I like to keep things light and healthy with these Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes.

Recipe Tips and Ideas

  • Add corn: Although not traditional, many people love adding some fresh, canned, or frozen corn to their chili..
  • Make it vegetarian: Leave out the ground turkey and add an extra can of beans for a vegetarian option. Consider black beans, chickpeas, or go in a different direction with some sauteed butternut squash or sweet potato.
  • Make it spicier: For a smokier chili that packs a little more punch, add some canned chipotle peppers in abobo. You can add just the adobo sauce for a hint of heat or add the diced pepper(s) for more heat.
  • Add veggies: This chili will definitely work with extra veggies. Some low calorie favorites include diced butternut squash, cauliflower rice, kale, zucchini, and bell peppers.
  • Make it beanless: If you aren't a big fan of beans in your chili, you can make this without the beans. Just double up on the ground turkey and use a little less beef broth.
  • Thicken it up: If you like a really thick chili, you have two options. You can simply use less beef broth or add a can of fat free refried beans. This creates a super thick, creamy chili.

How to make ground turkey chili in the slow cooker?

Start by sautéing the onions, carrots, and celery in a skillet with a touch of olive oil until they are just tender. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and all the spices. Cook for 3-4 minutes until nice and fragrant. Add this mixture to the slow cooker along with the diced tomatoes, beans, and beef broth. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Healthy Topping Ideas;

To me, it's not really a bowl of chili unless it has some toppings. Here are some of my favorite healthy toppings for chili.

  • Instead of sour cream, reach for a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt.
  • Chopped cilantro adds freshness to the chili. Chopped green onions are another great option.
  • Grab some reduced fat shredded cheese to add on top. Sharp cheddar, pepper jack, and mozzarella all work well.
  • For extra heat, serve your chili will some sliced fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers.
  • If you want some crunch, bake corn tortillas in the oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until browned and crispy. Break them up for a healthier chip.
  • Avocado is another healthy option and the creaminess of the avocado can help balance out the heat.
  • For a fresh option, add some store bought pico de gallo on top of your chili and a sprinkling of queso fresco.
  • Chopped onions add some texture to chili. You can use traditional white onions, red onions, or shallots for a less intense flavor.

Turkey Chili in a large pot with beans, ground turkey, chili spices with bowls on the side.

How long will it last in the fridge? Can it be frozen?

Chili typically lasts 4-5 days in the fridge as long as it is stored in an airtight container. In the freezer, chili will last 3-4 months. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.

What's the secret to the best chili?

Let it sit overnight in the fridge! Trust me when I say the secret to the most delicious chili is actually making it the day before you want to eat it. The flavors deepen, everything melds, and you will end up with the most delicious chili this way.

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The Recipe
Easy Turkey Chili with ground turkey, pinto beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and cilantro in two bowls.

Ground Turkey Chili

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  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced (optional)
  • 1 cup celery, diced (optional)
  • 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2.5 tbsp chili powder (more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 14 oz canned diced fire roasted tomatoes (with juice)
  • 14 oz canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce (no sugar added)

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Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a heavy pan. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring as needed, until onions are tender.

Stirred onions, carrots, and celery on blue dutch oven.

Add the ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5-7 minutes until cooked through.

Cooked turkey, onions, carrots, and celery for chili.

Add the minced garlic, tomato paste, and all the spices.

Garlic, tomato paste and spices for turkey chilli added on blue dutch oven.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until very fragrant.

Cooked turkey with tomato paste and chili spices.

Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, and pinto beans. Stir together.

Pinto beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, and the turkey chili mixture.

Add the tomato sauce and beef broth. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Cook for at least 30 minutes, ideally about 45 minutes.

Turkey chili with ground turkey, beans, tomatoes, and spices.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.25 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 310
Calories from Fat 41
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 42mg
Sodium 1814mg
Total Carbohydrate 40g
Dietary Fiber 8g
Sugars 8g
Protein 31g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.


Slow Cooker Option

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes until onions are tender. Add the turkey and brown for 5-7 minutes until cooked through. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and spices. Cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add to the slow cooker along with the tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, and beef broth. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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