Turkey chili is more than just a dish; it’s a comforting embrace in a bowl. Ideal for moms who juggle busy schedules, this recipe combines lean ground turkey with a variety of beans, simmered in a flavorful tomato base. The aroma of chili powder and cumin fills the air, creating an inviting atmosphere in your kitchen. It’s not just about feeding your family; it’s about creating moments and memories over a meal that everyone loves. Ready in less than an hour, turkey chili is a practical choice for a wholesome dinner, ensuring you spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying with your loved ones.

Close up view of turkey chili in a large pot.

Ingredient Breakdown & Substitutions

Understanding the ingredients in turkey chili is key to creating a dish that’s both delicious and tailored to your family’s preferences. Below, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of each ingredient, along with some tried-and-true substitutions to help you customize the recipe to your liking.

Overhead view of the raw ingredients needed to make turkey chili on a clean kitchen counter.
  • Lean Ground Turkey: A healthier alternative to beef, offering a lighter flavor. We prefer 93% lean ground turkey, but you could use anything from 85-99% lean. Substitute with a plant-based ground meat alternative for a plant-based diet.
  • Beans: Use any variety you prefer. Kidney, black, or pinto beans are great options.
  • Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce: These provide the chili’s base. Fresh tomatoes can be used as a substitute.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this be made in an instant pot?

To make this chili in the instant pot:

Brown your turkey on the sauté setting
Then, add in the onions and garlic and sauté until tender.
Once the onion is tender, add in the rest of the ingredients.
Seal the steam release valve and cook on high for 25 minutes.
Let it naturally release pressure for 10 minutes.
Then, carefully turning the valve to venting to release the rest of the pressure. 

Can this be made in the slow cooker?

To make this in the slow cooker:
Brown the turkey and sauté the onions and garlic on the stovetop.
Then, add it into your slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours, or on high for 3 hours. 

Do I need a dutch oven to make turkey chili?

For the best cooking experience, use a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. These types of pots distribute heat evenly, ensuring that the chili cooks consistently and the flavors meld beautifully.

How can I adjust the spiciness?

If you are sensitive to spice, you can go ahead and reduce the chili powder. Additionally, we recommend using mild green chilis. 

To increase spice, simply add more chili powder to your own personal taste preferences and spice tolerance.

What can I serve with turkey chili?

It pairs well with cornbread, rice, or a simple green salad.

Visual Guide to Making Turkey Chili

A collage of four images to show the process of how to make turkey chili from start to finish.


  • Chili too thick? Add more chicken broth to reach desired consistency.
  • Not flavorful enough? Increase the seasonings slightly and simmer for a longer time.
  • Too spicy? You can either add in a small amount of extra tomato sauce or honey to counteract the spice. Start low and gradually add more to taste until it reaches your desired spice level, but don’t overdo it!

Tips From the Chef

  • Brown the turkey well for deeper flavor.
  • Rinse beans thoroughly to remove excess sodium.
  • Let the chili simmer for the full time to develop flavors.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.
A serving of turkey chili in a white bowl with a spoon resting in the bowl.

Storage, Freezer & Reheating Instructions

Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Freezing: Freeze in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Reheating: Reheat on the stove over medium heat or in the microwave, stirring occasionally.

More Amazing Chili Recipes

Watch the video below where Caytlin will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.