An easy recipe for turkey chili, a thick, aromatic stew of leftover turkey meat, onions, tomatoes, and spices.
Ready in about 45 minutes and a breeze to make, this is one of my favorite post-Thanksgiving meals!
A warm and comforting chili is one of my favorite ways to enjoy turkey meat on the days after Thanksgiving. During the year, I simply use chicken instead of turkey.
While there are many delicious ways to use up leftover turkey, including turkey stir-fry and turkey curry, a big bowl of chili is especially appropriate for the season. It's hot, spicy, and comforting.
The list of ingredients needed to make this recipe isn't exactly short. But don't let that deter you! Lots of spices are essential to a good chili. And once you lay out the ingredients, the rest of the recipe is a breeze.
For the seasoning mixture: I use chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, crushed red peppers, tomato paste, and minced garlic.
Olive oil: This is my favorite oil and I use it quite often in my recipes. But if you'd rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead
Diced onion: I like to use yellow onion, which is a bit milder than white onion. But white onion works too.
Diced bell peppers: Sometimes I omit them, as I do in the video below. But they do add nice flavor and texture
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the chili could end up too salty.
Cooked turkey meat: Diced or shredded. Make sure to remove the skin. It will feel rubbery when cooked in a chili.
Petite-diced tomatoes: Or use regular diced tomatoes and give them an extra chop.
Dried bay leaves: You can omit these, although they do add a nice layer of flavor.
Making this turkey chili is easy! It's ready in just 45 minutes. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- You start by cooking the onions and peppers in olive oil with some salt.
- Add the seasoning mixture, then the turkey meat.
- Next, stir in the tomatoes and the bay leaves, and add some water.
- Simmer the chili for 20 minutes.
I usually use white meat, but you can also use a mix of white and dark meat. Just make sure that the meat is skinless. The skin would taste rubbery in chili.
Frequently asked questions
The onions, peppers, and tomatoes do add up, so this is not a very low-carb recipe. It has 13 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber per serving. Whether this works for you or not is up to you to decide.
I actually prefer to cook it quickly because the turkey meat is already cooked and I don't want it to become overcooked.
Yes, that would be fine. Just as with the white meat, remember to take the skin off before adding it to the chili.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- Use ghee or avocado oil instead of olive oil.
- Experiment with your spices. For example, you could try using dried thyme instead of oregano.
- As mentioned above, chicken works well in this recipe if you'd rather use that instead of turkey.
This chili is substantial enough that you can simply serve it in bowls. It's a complete meal.
I think it's excellent when topped with shredded cheddar, sliced green onions, guacamole, and/or sour cream. If you'd like to serve it with something, try these tasty options:
Most cooked leftovers, when properly and immediately refrigerated in a shallow airtight container, keep for 3-4 days.
But since we’re using leftover meat to cook this recipe, the leftovers could potentially spoil faster.
So when figuring out how long you can keep this dish, don't forget to take into account the number of days that the turkey meat has already spent in your fridge.
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- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red peppers
- 3 oz tomato paste (half a can)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium bell peppers, diced
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt divided
- 24 oz cooked white turkey meat, skinless, shredded or diced (5 cups)
- 2 (15 oz cans) petite diced tomatoes, undrained (if using regular diced tomatoes, give them an extra chop)
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup water
- In a small bowl, with a fork, mix together the seasoning ingredients to create a paste.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, bell peppers, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the seasoning mixture (use a small spatula to scrape it off the bowl) and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
- Stir in the turkey meat until well-coated in the spices.
- Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, the remaining salt, and the black pepper. Add enough water to bring the chili to a thick stew consistency, about 1 cup.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.