A thick, hearty , and easy Turkey Chili that’s perfect for using up leftover Thanksgiving turkey! Today’s recipe is similar to (and even easier than) my best chili recipe. Made with leftover shredded turkey, this chili has an incredible flavor (special thanks to a key ingredient) and can be on your table in under an hour!
Leftover Turkey Chili
Each year after Thanksgiving I try to share a simple recipe that you can make to use up some of your leftover turkey. You know, something other than cold turkey sandwiches.
There’s minimal prep-work involved (dice your onion & pepper, mince your garlic) and the hardest part of this whole recipe is letting it simmer for 30 minutes. This turkey chili has an incredible, complex flavor, thanks in part to one important ingredient that may seem a bit unusual to you…
Why Add Cocoa Powder to Chili
I use a pinch of cocoa powder in my turkey chili. This isn’t my invention (chocolate and chilis have been paired together for centuries) but it’s one I’ve grown very attached to.
Cocoa powder adds extra dimension to our chili and enhances the existing flavors. It adds body and a subtle depth of flavor. The bitterness of the cocoa also works to balance the acidity from the tomatoes.
What it doesn’t do is make your turkey chili taste like a pot of turkey brownies, I promise. While you will get an initial whiff of warm chocolate when you first add it to your pot, the distinct chocolate flavor will dissipate and there will be no lingering chocolate taste.
What Goes With Chili?
Turkey chili works just fine as a complete stand-alone meal. However, I often like to serve mine with a side of Buttermilk Cornbread or biscuits. If you have any leftover roasted sweet potatoes I think you’ll find that the flavors of the chili pair nicely with them, too!
More Hearty Recipes You Might Enjoy!
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 red pepper diced (about 1 heaping cup) 155g
- 1 red onion diced (about 1 ½ cups) 180g
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 Tablespoon)
- 2 Tablespoon chili powder*
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar packed
- 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder**
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- 11/2 teaspoons cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper***
- 4 cups/1 lb cups cooked shredded turkey meat (450g)
- 2 cups beef, chicken, or turkey stock my preference is beef (475ml)
- 28 oz canned fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained if you can't find fire roasted, regular diced tomatoes will work instead (795g)
- ¼ cup tomato paste 66g
- 1 14 oz can black beans rinsed and drained (397g)
- 1 14 oz can dark red kidney beans rinsed and drained (397g)
- 1 4 oz can fire roasted chilis 113g
- Your favorite toppings: Sour cream, broken corn chips, diced avocado, shredded cheese, etc.
- Melt butter over medium/high heat in a large pot (I like to use a Dutch oven) until melted.
- Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent (about 5 minutes)
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add turkey to your pot and then add chili powder, brown sugar, cocoa powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- turn ingredients well until turkey is covered with spices.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to fully develop.
- Serve, topped with sour cream, crushed corn chips, or your favorite toppings.
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