The Best Turkey Chili Recipe
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
This Turkey Chili is healthy, hearty and flavorful! This easy turkey chili recipe can be made on the stove top, in the slow cooker or in an Instant Pot.
Your search for the best turkey chili recipe ends here! This recipe makes the most flavorful turkey chili with the perfect balance of seasonings. It starts with ground turkey, onion and garlic. Then you’ll add in a generous amount of chili seasonings, plus tomato paste and fire roasted tomatoes for richness and flavor. Three kinds of beans make this turkey chili especially hearty and healthy.
What I love most about this turkey chili recipe is that you can make it on the stove, or in the Instant Pot or slow cooker. So whether you’re looking for a make ahead meal, or you want the quick convenience of an Instant Pot recipe, or you want to gently simmer a pot of chili on the stove, this recipe has your cooking needs covered. We love to serve this turkey chili with a few toppings and homemade cornbread on the side. I hope you love it as much as we do!
Turkey Chili Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this turkey chili recipe:
- Olive Oil: For sautéing the onion.
- Onion: Adds flavor.
- Ground Turkey: I usually use 93% lean ground turkey. It has a little more fat than 99% lean, which means your chili will be more flavorful. You can use whichever type of ground turkey you prefer.
- Garlic: You can’t beat the flavor of fresh garlic!
- Brown Sugar: Adding just one tablespoon of brown sugar to the chili balances out the acidity of the tomatoes and gives this turkey chili the best flavor. If you prefer a no-sugar recipe, you can omit the brown sugar.
- Seasonings: Chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, salt and pepper provide the perfect mix of seasonings for the best turkey chili.
- Tomato Paste: Adds richness and thickens the chili base.
- Chicken Broth: I recommend using low sodium broth so that you can better control the amount of salt in the chili.
- Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes: Fire roasted tomatoes bring a rich, slightly sweet and smoky flavor that is so good in this turkey chili recipe. I prefer the smoother texture of crushed tomatoes over diced, but you can substitute diced if that’s what you have on hand.
- Beans: This recipe calls for kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans.
How to Make Turkey Chili
Here’s an overview of how to make turkey chili on the stove. You’ll need a large heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven. See the recipe card below for the full instructions, including ingredient amounts.
- Sauté the onion in olive oil.
- Add the ground turkey and cook, crumbling the meat, until browned.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the brown sugar, seasonings and tomato paste.
- Then stir in the broth and scrape up any flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Finally, stir in the crushed tomatoes and beans.
- Simmer the chili for 1-2 hours, until it’s thick and flavorful. Cover the pot at the beginning of the simmer time and then uncover it during the last 30 minutes or so to thicken the chili.
Turkey Chili Recipe Tips
- Adjust the spice level. This chili is not too spicy when made with a mild chili powder. How spicy the chili turns out will depend on the spiciness of your chili powder. If you want a spicier chili, you can add a bit of chipotle chili powder or cayenne pepper, but be careful because a little goes a long way.
- Add more veggies. Chopped bell peppers, carrots or celery can be added along with the onion. Chopped sweet potatoes can be added at the step when you add the garlic. Or stir in some chopped fresh spinach once the chili has finished simmering.
- Use your favorite kinds of beans. The recipe calls for black beans, pinto beans and kidney beans. Chickpeas or cannellini beans are other good options.
- For a thicker chili, increase the uncovered simmer time.
- You can swap the ground turkey for ground beef or ground chicken to vary the flavors.
Slow Cooker Instructions
If you prefer to prep dinner early in the day, this method is for you! The recipe card below includes full slow cooker instructions. Here are a few tips:
- The chili cooks on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. You can let it cook for up to 10 hours on low if you’ll be out of the house all day for work.
- You will need to brown the turkey in a pan on the stove before you can cook the chili in your slow cooker. You’ll cook the onion in the same pan. This step adds flavor and improves the texture of the meat so don’t skip it.
- Before transferring the onion and meat to your slow cooker, add the garlic, spices and tomato paste. Then stir in the broth and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. These bits add flavor.
- You might also like this Slow Cooker Chili.
How to Make this Turkey Chili Recipe in the Instant Pot
My favorite way to make this turkey chili is in the Instant Pot because it really develops the flavors of the chili in a short amount of time.
- You can use the Instant Pot sauté setting to soften the onion and brown the meat right in the Instant Pot.
- The first time I made chili in my Instant Pot, I got the Instant Pot burn message. I don’t want this to happen to you, so I did more recipe testing to find some tricks to avoid it: (1) After adding the broth, stir the ingredients well, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot. You don’t want any pieces of meat stuck there to burn. (2) Add the tomatoes and beans last and do not stir them in. High starch foods like beans can cause your Instant Pot to give a “burn” warning, so you don’t want them near the bottom of the pot.
- Try this classic Instant Pot Beef Chili next.
What to Serve with Turkey Chili
- Turkey chili toppings: Load up your bowl with your favorite toppings. Try shredded cheese, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, avocado, chopped red onion or green onion, fresh cilantro, crumbled tortilla chips, or sliced jalapeño.
- On the side: Serve turkey chili with this Cornbread Recipe, Homemade Biscuits or a salad.
- Turn leftover chili into a new meal by making chili mac: Stir in cooked pasta and shredded cheddar cheese for a delicious meal the next day.
Leftover chili makes delicious leftovers for lunch or dinner. So make a big batch and enjoy it for easy meals later on!
- Refrigerator: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezer: Once cool, store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To Reheat: Reheat in a covered pot on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Or reheat in the microwave until steaming hot.
When you’re craving comfort food, this turkey chili recipe is just the cozy meal to warm you up. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!
The Best Turkey Chili Recipe (Stove Top, Slow Cooker or Instant Pot)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chili powder, use 1 tablespoon for less spice
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth, or one 14.5 ounce can
- 28 ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes, or fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- For topping: shredded cheese, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, cilantro, chopped onions, etc., as desired
To Make on the Stove Top:
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook 2 minutes, until onion starts to soften. Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring to crumble the meat, until turkey is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Add the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add the broth and stir, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes and beans.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Cover the chili during the first part of the cook time, and then uncover during the last 30 minutes to thicken.
- Serve chili with toppings, as desired.
To Make in the Slow Cooker:
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook 2 minutes, until onion starts to soften. Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring to crumble the meat, until turkey is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Turn off the heat and add the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add the broth and stir, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Transfer the mixture into your slow cooker insert.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and then beans to the slow cooker and stir.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- Stir and serve chili with toppings, as desired.
To Make in the Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker):
- Turn Instant Pot on sauté setting. Add the olive oil and onion and cook 2 minutes, until onion starts to soften. Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring to crumble the meat, until turkey is browned, about 5 minutes. Turn off the Instant Pot and stir in the garlic.
- Add the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add the broth and stir well, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and then beans on top of the meat mixture and DO NOT stir in.
- Close the Instant Pot lid and move the valve to the sealing position. Pressure cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.
- Allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 10 minutes (by leaving it off after it finishes cooking). Then, carefully do a quick pressure release (use a potholder or long spoon to carefully move the steam release valve to venting) to release the remaining steam and pressure. Once the float valve drops down, carefully open the Instant Pot lid away from you, as the steam will be hot.
- If the chili is not thick enough, simmer it using the sauté function to thicken it up. Stir and serve chili with toppings, as desired.