skyline chili

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~ skyline chili ~

In Cincinnati Ohio there is a popular chili that is served over spaghetti noodles called Cincinnati Chili, and the restaurants that serve this unique and delicious dish are Skyline, Gold Star and Empress. There are no crushed tomatoes or chili powder in this chili, and the ground beef is not pre-browned. The Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar (not white), cloves, cumin, unsweetened chocolate and cayenne pepper are all essential to the recipe as are the measurements of onion and garlic. This recipe can be doubled or tripled and freezes beautifully.

This is one of Jeff”s favorite meals, and chili is a great way to welcome autumn, so making this on his Halloween birthday has become a tradition at our house. I hope you enjoy this unusual dish as much as we do!

1 quart water

2 pounds ground chuck

2 medium onions, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced in a garlic press

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

10 peppercorns, ground

8 whole allspice, ground

8 whole cloves, ground

1 large bay leaf

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

1 and 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, grated

Bring water to boil in a 4-6 quart pot. Add the ground chuck (don’t brown it first, just add it to the boiling water raw.) Stir until seperated and reduce heat to simmer.

Add onions and garlic…

tomato sauce…

apple cider vinegar…

Worcestershire sauce…


allspice, cloves, bay leaf, salt, cinnamon and cumin…

cayenne pepper and grated chocolate…

Return to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer for 2 and 1/2 hours, uncovered.

Stir frequently.

Cool uncovered and refrigerate over night.

Skim most of the fat off the top and discard. Discard bay leaf.

Reheat and serve over hot spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente.

Here are the classic Cincinnati Chili combinations:

Two Way:

spaghetti and chili

Three Way:

spaghetti, chili, and grated cheddar cheese

Four Way:

spaghetti, chili, grated cheddar cheese, and chopped onion

Five Way:

spaghetti, chili, grated cheddar, chopped onion and red kidney beans

*note-we prefer chili beans to kidney beans, so we use those instead



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  17 comments for “skyline chili

  1. November 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    You have piqued my curiosity, I’ve never seen chocolate in chili or chili served over noodles before. Going to have to try this!

    • Melissa
      November 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      This is so good (and addictive!)…and the chocolate doesn’t make it taste chocolaty…it just adds depth and richness to the dish. Enjoy 😉

  2. dianna thompson
    November 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    i am from a skyline loving family! Raised in cincy…have enjoyed skyline for a lot of years! In 2009 traveled west and there are no skyline chili parlors to be found! Thats rough! So earlier this year i managed to find this very recipe and gathered all ingredients and it was awesome! One thing different i used was buffalo for the meat..just a choice we prefer. So when out west or anywhere there are no skyline..i make my own…we like it…thanks for posting this..

    • Melissa
      November 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Hello Dianna! Thanks so much for commenting! I have used bison and extra lean ground beef in this before. It kind of eliminates the need to refrigerate and scrape the fat 😉 Buffalo is wonderful, and so lean. Thanks for reminding me there is a way to lighten up this dish.

  3. November 1, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Thanks for the “Skyline Chili” recipe. This seems like a nice take on a traditional favorite.

    • Melissa
      November 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks so much for visiting OrGreenic! xo

  4. JenfromFL
    September 20, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Love this recipe!! I was wondering if you can make it in a crockpot? Would you just throw all the ingredients together? Has anyone tried that before?

    • Melissa
      September 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Jen! I’ve never made this in the Crock Pot before. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! XO ~M

  5. Joanie Hoffman
    October 31, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Yum, just yum. And that’s my reaction on just reading the recipe! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks! Happy Thursday!!!

    • Melissa
      October 31, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Hi Joanie! Enjoy and thanks for visiting my little corner of the internet! xoxo

  6. MaryLee
    October 31, 2013 at 11:54 am

    What if I don’t have the whole spices, just the already ground ones. How much do I put in of each? Looking forward to trying this. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Melissa
      October 31, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      I do about 1/4 teaspoon of each of the spices if they’re ground. Thanks for stopping by, MaryLee 🙂

      • MaryLee
        November 1, 2013 at 8:25 am

        Thanks for the quick reply, Melissa! I’ll be trying this out soon! Looks delish!

        • Melissa
          November 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm

          My pleasure, MaryLee! XO and enjoy 🙂

  7. Tracy
    September 4, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! I haven’t had 5 way in forever and a day I am so going to make this up – next time I go shopping getting the ingredients for several batches lol.

  8. Carol
    November 2, 2014 at 7:21 am

    I used to live in Erlanger, KY, just over the river from Cinn. and my favorite place to eat was Dixie Chili. This looks so much like theirs. Thanks for the recipe, I’ve been missing it and will for sure give this a try.

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