Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

This Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili is a great copycat recipe when you are craving chili. Serve over rice or a hot dog, or any of the traditional 5 different ways!

ladle of cincinnati chili

Cincinnati Skyline Chili

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, everyone can 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!

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

chili ingredients in individual bowls

Ingredients Needed

Ground beef – I like to use lean ground beef. Or substitute ground turkey.

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 – 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.

Pantry staples – Light brown sugar, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar.

Looking for more leftover worthy dishes? Follow LTB on Pinterest and pin to a board!

How to Make Cincinnati Chili

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

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

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

Fourth: 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

What makes Cincinnati Chili different?

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? Serving it 5 different ways means every one in your family will be pleased!

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili 5 Ways

There are no beans in the actual chili but you can serve it with a variety of different extras. At a chili parlor, diners call them “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.

Additional Serving Suggestions

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. This is how I eat this Panera Turkey Chili!

How long does it last?

Store any leftover chili in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.

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

Tips for No Leftovers

  • 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!

collage of cincinnati chili pictures

Tried this slow cooker Cincinnati Chili? Comment down below and let me know which “way” you had it. I love mine 5 ways with extra beans!

bowl of chili

Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili

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!
4.67 from 18 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 624kcal
Author: Jennifer Stewart


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


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


  • 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.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 624kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 1430mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encourages and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

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  1. Kathleen Pope says:

    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!

  3. I thought that Skyline didn’t BROWN the meat

    1. They don’t technically but I feel safer with browning the meat before adding to the slow cooker.

  4. I have the actual recipe for Skyline Chili. It was printed in a California Newspaper in the early 80’s and we still have the original clipping. It does not have any chocolate in it. I would be happy to share the recipe if anyone would like it.

    1. @Kimberly, I would love to have it !!

    2. @Kimberly
      Please share! Thank you!!

    3. Bob Helewski says:

      @Kimberly, I moved to Latvia one year ago. I miss Skyliners so I will attempt the recipe if you would kindly share it. In Florida eating Skyliners were my last meals before a hurricane!

      -A former Skyline Chili regular

    4. @Kimberly, could I please have the recipe. Please and Thank You.

    5. Labrentha Stallworth says:


      I would love the exact recipe.


    6. @Kimberly, could I please get the copy the original

    7. @Kimberly, the real recipe has chocolate in it.

    8. @Kimberly, 100% agree on no chocolate. The unsweetened chocolate makes the chili bitter and tastes nothing like what is served at Skyline, Gold Star, Empress, etc. Does the recipe you have include powdered cocoa? I’ve seen it listed in other “copy cat” recipes but am not convinced it’s part of the Skyline recipe.

    9. @Kimberly, hi! i’m from ohio and want to make a decent skyline replica; would you be willing to share the original recipe with me? Thanks, Beth.

      1. Here are the “original ingredients” based on my research. There is some disagreement on whether there are cloves in it so I think it’s a personal preference if you add it.
        1 quart water
        2 lbs ground beef
        2 medium onions
        4 cloves garlic
        2 tablespoons white vinegar
        1 large bay leaf
        ½ teaspoon red pepper
        1 teaspoon cumin
        1 ½ tsp salt
        5 whole allspices
        2 ½ tablespoons chili powder
        1 teaspoon cinnamon
        16 ounces tomato sauce
        2 tsp Worcestershire
        1 ounces unsweetened chocolate

  5. Have tried other Skyline Chili recipes before but this definitely beats it all!! We ate it over black bean linguine and we couldnshovel it in fast enough. Delish, Thank You!!!

  6. Anne Duncan says:

    Um, you need to ditch the apple cider vinegar; I understand the logic in using it, but it is not an authentic taste (if your aim is as Skyline-like as possible). Use two teaspoons of brown sugar instead, and increase the Worcestershire sauce slightly; you will notice the difference! And yes, I was born and raised in Cincinnati, have had lots of Cincinnati chili, and know whereof I speak! Other than that, you’ve got a great recipe there!

4.67 from 18 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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