An easy recipe for leftover turkey chili, a thick, aromatic stew of turkey meat, onions, tomatoes, and spices. One of my fave 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, a big bowl of chili is especially appropriate for the season. It's hot, spicy and comforting.
The ingredients you'll need
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: 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're unsure about cooking with it, 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 and unpleasant when cooked in a chili.
Petite-diced tomatoes: Or use regular diced tomatoes and give them an extra chopping
Dried bay leaves: You can omit these, although they do add a nice layer of flavor.
How to make leftover turkey chili
I usually use white meat, but you can also use a mix of white and dark meat. Just make sure the meat is skinless. The skin would taste rubbery and unpleasant in a chili.
This is a very easy recipe, ready in just 45 minutes. I prefer to cook it quickly because the turkey meat is already cooked and I don't want it to become overcooked.
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- 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 for 20 minutes.
Is this a low carb recipe?
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.
What to serve with leftover turkey chili?
It's 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:
What about leftovers?
Most cooked leftovers, when properly refrigerated in a shallow airtight container, keep for 3-4 days.
But since we’re using leftover meat to cook this recipe, leftovers of this turkey chili 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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Leftover Turkey Chili
- 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.