Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili is one of those easy to make, hearty, flavorful dishes that has to work it’s way into your recipe rotation!

Served over spaghetti or a hot dog, this delicious meat sauce topping can be served 5 different ways and will quickly become one of your family favorites!

ladle of cincinnati chili

If you’d rather skip my essential cooking tips and tricks and get straight to this delicious recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.

Slow cooker Cincinnati chili, also known as Skyline chili, is a staple amongst Cincinnatians. Originating in the 1920s by Mediterranean immigrant restaurateurs, this tasty meat sauce is used as a spaghetti or hotdog topping.

While most Cincinnatians will have a definite restaurant favorite, all will agree that this delicious, hearty chili must be topped with A LOT of shredded cheddar cheese, a touch of white onions, and possibly a side of oyster crackers.

And if you don’t have the opportunity to make your way to Cincinnati to try their iconic chili, let me tell you, this crockpot Cincinnati Chili is hands-down a must try (and keep!) recipe!

Chocked full of hearty pieces of ground beef, an explosion of bold flavors, and underlying notes of chocolate and cinnamon, this topping will make your senses dance!

Perfect for a cold winter day or spicing up those summer hotdogs, this Cincinnati chili is easy to throw together and can be served any of the 5 ways you choose!

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labeled picture of ingredients

What makes this chili recipe unique is the combination of spices included. And the secret ingredient!


  • ground beef
  • beef broth
  • tomato paste & sauce
  • brown sugar
  • spices
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • apple cider vinegar
  • unsweetened chocolate (secret ingredient)

Ground beef – It’s chili and you want the best quality beef you can get. And because this is a crock pot recipe everything will stay in the pot. I recommend using 90/10 or 85/15 lean beef.

You will be browning the ground beef before adding to the crockpot so you can drain off a little of the fat. This also works well with ground turkey!

Beef broth – I think this adds more flavor to the chili but you can also use water if you prefer or don’t have any beef broth on hand.

Tomato – This recipe uses a combination of paste and tomato sauce. Some like to toast or cook the paste and spices in a pan before adding the ground beef as it adds a little smoky flavor to the final product. This step is not necessary so don’t feel like you have to do it.

Spices – This is really where the magic happens for this recipe. The spices hit all the right flavor spots. For this recipe I used the following: onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon (yes, you read that right), allspice, cayenne pepper, and cloves.

I don’t recommend using chipotle chili powder as it will drastically change the flavor from the original.

Chocolate – This is the secret ingredient! A little chocolate pairs well with the cayenne pepper in the recipe and actually enhances the flavor.

Garnishes – To serve the chili in the iconic different ways, you will need chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, kidney beans, and cooked spaghetti noodles.

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ONE: Brown the meat in a skillet over medium heat and drain. Add to a slow cooker.

TWO: Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef broth, spices, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and chocolate.

THREE: Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours.

FOUR: Keep warm until ready to serve it 1,2,3,4, or 5 way! Enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

fork of spaghetti


Cincinnati Chili takes your basic chili base and elevates it to another level. The main elevator of this special chili is the rich, bold, flavorful spices that include chocolate, cinnamon, all spice, and Worcestershire sauce.

Once the chili has marinated, it is topped over pasta, specifically spaghetti and sometimes a hot dog! And any true chili lover knows that the toppings make the chili.

Cincinnati Chili is topped with a pile of shredded cheddar cheese, a smattering of onion, a few kidney beans, and a side of oyster crackers.

Oh, and the most unique part? It can be served 5 different ways which means every one in your family will be pleased!


There are no beans in the actual chili but you can serve it with a variety of different extras. At a chili parlor, these are called “ways.” Here are the different ways to enjoy your Cincinnati Chili.

1 Way: Just eat the chili right out of the bowl with nothing else. I include this even though no one orders their chili “1 way.”

2 Way: Chili served over spaghetti noodles.

3 Way: Chili over spaghetti covered in shredded cheddar cheese.

4 Way: Chili over spaghetti with finely diced onion or beans and topped with shredded cheddar.

5 Way: Chili served over spaghetti, topped with dark red kidney beans, diced onion, and topped with cheddar cheese.


Enjoy this on a hot dog, in a bowl (or 1 Way) or grab a plate and start layering all the ways!

This is a “complete meal” in my opinion but some like crackers crushed on their chili (like my husband). If you are cracker person, then the appropriate ones to use are oyster crackers.


Let chili cool to room temperature then store in an air tight container and put in fridge! Chili also freezes beautifully! Just cool completely and store in freezer sage containers for up to 3 months.

Just thaw and reheat when you are craving chili again!

bowl of chili and spaghetti


  • Some recipes call for a bay leaf but I left it out.
  • For the spices, make sure you use ground allspice and ground cloves.
  • Tight on time? Brown the beef a day before and store in an air-tight container in the fridge until you are ready to combine with the other ingredients in the slow cooker.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

bowl of spaghetti and cheese with text "cincinnati chili"

Tried this slow cooker Cincinnati Chili? Comment down below and let me know which “way” you had it!


bowl of chili

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili is one of those easy to make, hearty, flavorful dishes that has to work it’s way into your recipe rotation!


Skyline Chili

  • 2 pounds ground beef (85/15, browned, drained)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped fine/separated)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves (ground)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups beef broth (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate

For Serving

  • 16 ounces cooked spaghetti
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) dark red kidney beans (rinsed, warmed)
  • reserved chopped onion


  1. Brown the ground beef with half the onion and drain. Add to a crockpot.
  2. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, spices, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and chocolate.
  3. Cook on low 4-5 hours or high 2-3 hours.
  4. Keep warm and serve your favorite way!
  5. Enjoy!


*If you love this recipe as much as I do, please leave me a comment and rate it 5 stars. Thank you!

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This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 624Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 1430mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 46g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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  1. Kathleen Pope

    While I have never had the authentic Cincinnati Chili, I have heard so much about it I had to try it and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Loved it on spaghetti!


    This was the BEST Cincinnati Chili I have ever made OR eaten!! Thank you for the great recipe!

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