This Ground Turkey Chili is one of the best you’ll ever eat! It’s filled with lean ground turkey, bean, and delicious smoky chipotle flavor. Easy to assemble and cooks all day in the crock pot! It’s perfect for making ahead for the week or freezing for dinners later on. You can also serve this crowd-pleasing homemade turkey chili recipe on game day; everyone will love it! Make this in the crock pot or on the stovetop!
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As soon as Fall hits and football season starts, the first thing I do is break out the crock pot and get our favorite chili recipes cooking. We love all variations of chilis! Our favorites include classic beef chili, slow cooker chuck roast chili, vegetarian chili, sausage chili, sweet potato black bean chili, turkey veggi chili, buffalo chicken chili and this delicious slow cooker ground turkey chili! See all of my healthy chili recipes.
Reasons you’ll love this recipe
There are many reasons to love this homemade turkey chili recipe, but here are our favorites.
- Healthy. Low fat and loaded with protein and fiber to keep you full and satisfied without any guilt.
- Super tasty. Don’t let the healthier twist worry you because this healthy turkey chili has many fantastic flavors. Everyone that tries this easy slow cooker chili is surprised that the recipe includes ground turkey.
- Easy to prepare. There is additional prep time, but the slow cooker does most of the cooking.
- Meal prep champion! Make a batch on Sunday for the week, or freeze it for future lunches or dinners. You can also assemble the ingredients to have them ready to cook during the week.
Here are the turkey chili ingredients you’ll need; many are healthy pantry ingredients you most likely have in your kitchen! Please see the recipe card for complete instructions.
- Ground turkey. Purchase high-quality lean ground turkey for the best flavor. I prefer ground turkey from Wegmans, Whole Foods, or Butcher Box.
- Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. This blend adds a meaty flavor to the ground turkey, which is my secret ingredient to infuse flavor into my ground turkey recipes. Soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free) are also great substitutes. To keep this chili gluten-free, I suggest checking the labels before adding the Worcestershire sauce or any sauce to the chili.
- Onions and garlic. For flavor and texture.
- Chili powder, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes. The perfect spice blend for a super flavorful classic turkey chili. You can also add some smoked paprika for another layer of smokey flavor.
- Tomato paste. To thicken the chili and add a layer of richness to the sauce.
- Chipotle chilis. Adds heat and smokey flavor. Remove the seeds to reduce the heat, or leave them if you want an extra spicy chili recipe.
- Tomato sauce and chili-flavored diced tomatoes. This creates the base of the chili recipe. I love grabbing chili-seasoned tomatoes for more flavor, but regular diced tomatoes will work fine if you can’t find this variety.
- Dark Red kidney beans. This is the classic bean for chili recipes, but black beans will work too.
How to Make Ground Turkey Chili (Crock Pot)
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes—Cook for 1 minute.
- Then stir in the tomato paste and chipotle peppers until blended with the other ingredients. I put the tomato paste in this step because it combines better with the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes when in the slow cooker. When I add the tomato paste directly into the slow cooker, it stays as a clump and struggles to blend.
- Place the ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in with the onion mixture and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the turkey into small pieces as it cooks. If you don’t have room in the skillet for the ground turkey, then add the onion mixture to the slow cooker and then continue cooking the turkey.
- Add the ground turkey mixture into the slow cooker.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and beans.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 4 -5 hours—taste for salt and pepper.
- Serve with your favorite chili condiments.
How to Cook Turkey Chili on the Stovetop
If you prefer to cook this ground turkey chili on the stove top, I recommend using a 5 1/2 quart dutch oven or large pot.
- Follow the slow cooker instructions, and instead of adding the turkey mixture to the slow cooker, leave it in the pot and add the rest of the ingredients.
- Over medium-high heat, bring the chili to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer and let it cook for 1-2 hours until it’s thickened with a deep red color.
- Serve hot in bowls and top with your favorite toppings.
This healthy ground turkey chili recipe goes great with the following:
- Cornbread or crusty bread
- Corn chips or tortilla chips – are my personal favorite.
- Or put it on top of rice or pasta.
- Don’t skip the extra steps. I know we all want a slow cooker recipe without extra cooking involved. Unfortunately, some recipes, including this slow cooker turkey chili, enhance the flavor by taking steps to cook the onions, garlic, and turkey ahead of time. When you throw those ingredients in raw, they tend to boil in the chili, muting the flavors.
- Get those flavor bits. After you add the ground turkey mixture into the slow cooker, if you notice some bits sticking to the pan, use a little chicken broth to scrape those up and then pour that in with the rest of the chili ingredients in the slow cooker.
- If the chili is thicker than you like, add ¼ cup of chicken broth until you get the consistency you want.
- Freeze extra tomato paste or chipotle peppers. If there’s leftover tomato paste or chipotle peppers, freeze it for future recipes. I love using the tablespoon Souper Cubes seen below.
- Yes, you can swap in ground beef for the turkey in this chili recipe.
- Increase the vegetables. Mushrooms, bell peppers, or cabbage is delicious in chili. I recommend heartier veggies, which hold up to the long cooking time.
- Swap in different beans. Black beans are another favorite for this recipe, and pinto beans are also tasty. However, you can use your favorite beans.
- Want a beanless chili? Leave the beans out and add ½ pound extra of turkey or vegetables.
- Get creative with toppings. Sliced fresh jalapeno, cilantro, green onions, avocado chopped onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, or plain greek yogurt are all delicious on top of a bowl of this class turkey chili recipe.
- Increase the heat. The chipotle pepper does add a spicy, smoky flavor to the chili. However, if you want an extra spicy chili, add jalapeno peppers, cayenne pepper, or crush red pepper flakes. You can also add diced chilis or pickled jalapenos.
This healthy turkey chili recipe makes a lot, so you’ll likely have leftovers. The good news, chili tastes better by the day!
For the week: So, store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. I like to keep them in individual containers for quick portion-controlled meals. See my favorite glass meal prep containers.
For the freeze: You can also freeze chili for up to 6 months. Again, I recommend freezing it into portions. You can use silicone trays (like these Souper cubes) or freeze them in containers or bags. You can reheat it from frozen on the stove top or take it out the night before and let it thaw in the refrigerator.
Assuming all other ingredients are the same, turkey chili is healthier than beef chili and lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol, making it an excellent heart-healthy choice.
Turkey chili can be as flavorful as beef chili when using the correct seasoning and cooking methods. I recommend using Worcestershire sauce, tamari, or soy sauce to give the ground turkey depth and flavor. Not only does this work with turkey chili recipes, but I find this adds flavor to all ground turkey recipes. It’s also essential to brown the ground turkey before adding it to the other ingredients.
Yes, you can put the raw turkey in the slow cooker, but you need to ensure the slow cooker comes up to temperature within 2 hours. Also, other issues with putting the raw turkey into the slow cooker with the other ingredients are that it won’t be as flavorful and will stay in clumps instead of crumbles.
I recommend browning it first for the best flavor and texture.
Ground Turkey Chili (Crock Pot)
- 6- quart programmable slow cooker
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 6 garlic cloves chopped
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce seeds removed and minced
- 2 lbs ground turkey
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 15 ounce cans dark red kidney beans
- 2 15 ounce cans chili-seasoned diced tomatoes
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes—Cook for 1 minute.
- Then stir in the tomato paste and chipotle peppers until it’s blended with the other ingredients.
- Place the ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in with the onion mixture and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the turkey into small pieces as it cooks.
- Add the ground turkey mixture into the slow cooker. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and beans.
- Cover and cook on low 6 – 8 hours or cook on high 4 -5 hours—taste for salt and pepper.
- Serve hot in bowls and top with your favorite toppings.
Did you make this recipe?
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