Cincinnati Chili

The following recipe is a local specialty in southern Ohio. You may have heard of Gold Star or Skyline Chili. It originated in the 1920’s by a couple of Greek immigrants and is a very unique dish. I was introduced to it by my wife while we were dating. See, she is a Buckeye. Her family snuck across the border into Michigan when she was a little girl. After her family moved back to Ohio, stopping for a Cincinnati Chili each time we visited was required. At first I refused to try it. I couldn’t even imagine anyone serving a chili over pasta. I would order a few hot dogs and watch her eat this strange chili over noodles. She likes it 5 way (I’ll explain what that means in a bit). After several visits I gained some courage and decided to try it on a chili dog. It was pretty good. Needless to say it grew on me over time and I finally decided to try it over the pasta. I ordered up a 5 way and thought it was just o.k. It became a ritual every time I went up north hunting or fishing for her to make a pot for herself. I’m not exactly sure when, but I ended up liking it. Now I can’t figure out why I didn’t like it from the start. The unique blend of spices is great over the pasta or over a hotdog. However, I will say this is not a chili to eat plain in a bowl. The spices are too overpowering and need to be tamed by the pasta or the hotdog bun.


1 quart of beef stock

2 pounds of lean ground beef (you will see why you use lean in a bit)

2 medium onions diced

one 15 to 16 ounce can of tomato sauce

3/4 teaspoon of ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

4 tablespoons of chili powder

2 tablespoons of vinegar

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

1/2 ounce of bitter unsweetened chocolate

1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

(Toppings to follow)

Directions: Add the raw ground beef and the quart of beef broth to a pot and simmer for thirty minutes. Make sure you break up the beef as fine as possible with the back of a large spoon while it simmers. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low for 3 hours stirring occasionally. It is best refrigerated overnight for the grease to harden and the flavors to blend. Remove the grease before reheating. You can serve it right away as well, it’s up to you.If you use lean beef it is just fine. Serve it one of the following ways. Traditionally it is served with mild cheddar, however we have also used sharp.

2 way- chili over pasta

3 way- chili and cheddar cheese over pasta

4 way- chili, cheddar cheese, and raw onion over pasta

5 way- chili, cheddar cheese, raw onion, and kidney beans over pasta


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Karissa on February 17, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Ken –
    As you used to be, I am still suspicious of chili served this way. But, on your recommendation, I’m willing to try it. Some day. Actually, we sometimes serve our “family chili recipe” over rice, especially if there’s not that much chili left in the pot. I suppose this isn’t that much different! (tho the chilis are definitely different!)


  2. Posted by John on February 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    First of all we did not sneak into Michigan under the cover of darkness!! Michigan welcomed us with open arms. Now that we have that settled…

    I believe this is close as you can get to the original thing. We do use Bush’s chili hot beans, but that is a personal choice. Be sure to serve with oyster crackers and plenty of hot sauce.


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