Cincinnati Style Chili

Before I moved to Texas, I live in Ohio. I fell in love with a restaurant called "Skyline Chili." Their chili is known as Cincinnati style and can be found all over southern Ohio. It is an unusual no-bean chili made with ground beef, cinnamon, cloves and unsweetened chocolate in a beef and tomato base. This is definitely NOT a traditional chili - it's more of a sauce. It's also awesome served over hotdogs or french fries.
It is best served over hot, drained spaghetti noodles with shredded cheddar cheese (also known as a Three-Way). Following are the traditional Cincinnati ways to serve your chili:
Two- Way: Spaghetti Noodles and Chili
Three-Way: Spaghetti Noodles, Chili, and Cheese
Four-Way: Spaghetti Noodles, Chili, Cheese, and Diced Onions
Five-Way: Spaghetti Noodles, Chili, Cheese, Diced Onions, and Kidney Beans

2 (10.5 ounce) cans beef broth
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


Heat both cans of beef broth in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add ground beef, breaking the beef up into small pieces as you put it into the broth. Using a spoon stir the beef to keep breaking it up into tiny pieces. Cook the ground beef in the broth until the beef turns to a solid color. Add onions, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, chocolate, tomato sauce, cider vinegar, and red pepper. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

At this point you can serve it, however it is best if you refrigerate it overnight allowing for the flavors to blend and the sauce to thicken up.

Remove the bay leaf. Serve or reheat gently over medium heat.


  • If your chili isn’t as thick as you would like it, uncover the pot for last half hour and add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken.
  • If your beef pieces still aren’t tiny enough, put the chili into a food processor or blender to help.
  • For you bulk cooking fans - this recipe freezes well!

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