This easy turkey chili recipe is healthy, full of flavor, and comes together in less than 30 minutes, making it one of our go-to weeknight meals!
Ground turkey chili is so easy and delicious, and really hits the spot when you're looking for a hearty, warm, comforting meal.
Chili is, after all, any soup recipe's thicker, heartier cousin.
The only small problem with using ground turkey instead of ground beef is that it can be a little dry. However, if you use it correctly, it can be great! We love it in awesome turkey burgers, turkey stuffed peppers, ground turkey tacos, and the ground turkey chili recipe on this page.
This turkey chili recipe is full of flavor, simple to make, and loaded with protein and good-for-you ingredients.
You get to top your bowl of chili with all of your favorite toppings (options listed below), and you'll have a winning meal on your hands, whether you're making this for meal prep, a weeknight dinner, or serving a crowd.
Turkey chili is naturally gluten-free and grain-free too. You can make it dairy-free by avoiding cheese, yogurt, or sour cream.
If you've never made homemade chili, welcome to the chili lover's club! I have a whole category of chili recipes for you to choose from. You might be surprised that it's easy to put together a batch of homemade chili, from fresh & simple ingredients.
Turkey Chili Ingredients
Ground turkey is a great alternative to ground beef. It's leaner, plus it's a great way to change up the flavor of your favorite dishes.
There are a few types of ground turkey you can find at most stores. It will be labeled with the percent of fat on the label, usually 93% or 99%:
- OPTION 1: I prefer to use a mix of white and dark meat (such as a 93% version) because it will add some fat and flavor while still being pretty lean. The 93% fat version won't be quite as dry when cooked. I like to use this version in my turkey chili for extra flavor and a better texture.
- OPTION 2: 99% fat-free turkey will be very lean white meat, which can make it taste pretty dry and flavorless. It's an ok option to use if it's all you can find because we're adding a lot of flavor to the chili. If you use the 99% version, add an extra tablespoon of olive oil to the pan before you brown the meat to help it cook and not stick. Choose the version of ground turkey you prefer.
Onion & Garlic
Fresh onion and fresh garlic not only add amazing flavor and texture to your chili, but they're both also nutrition powerhouses.
Grab a small to medium white or yellow onion (red works, too, if that's all you have, and so does half a large onion), and a few cloves of fresh garlic to season up your chili. Avoid the minced garlic in jars, fresh garlic is better for you and tastes better, too.
Kidney Beans + Black Beans
I love adding beans to chili to boost fiber intake, and because beans are delicious.
I also love the texture beans add to my chili bowl. If you don't eat beans you can simply leave them out.
Just like in my vegetarian chili recipe, this recipe calls for red kidney beans because I've found they hold their shape best, and a can of black beans for extra flavor. You can use 2 cans of kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, or any other bean you prefer. Or, add only 1 can of beans if you wish.
Fire-Roasted Canned Tomatoes
These should be readily available in your grocery store in the canned tomato aisle. The Fire-roasted version adds a unique, mildly smoky flavor to the tomatoes, which is such a great layer of flavor in this Turkey Chili.
You can use any type of diced or crushed tomatoes here, though, I'd skip the ones with basil added.
Turkey Chili Spices
While you can totally use a packet of chili spice meant for a big pot of chili, making your own chili seasoning really elevates the flavors of the dish.
To season your ground turkey chili you'll need:
- chili powder
- ground cumin
- dried ground coriander
- dried oregano
- salt and pepper
Grab a bottle of each of these spices and you'll be set for lots of future pots of chili... and taco seasoning, too.
Bring the Heat
My fiancé loves extra spicy food, but we have two kids so I like to serve sliced jalapeños on the side. Pickled jalapeños are also nice here. They add a great kick of heat and a little extra crunch.
Favorite Chili Toppings
One of the best parts of chili is the toppings!
To make life easy choose 2-3 of these that you like best. If you're cooking for a crowd or have extra time, you can put a variety of these out and let people build their own chili bowls:
- Sliced avocado
- Cilantro leaves
- Tortilla chips
- Minced white or red onion, or sliced green onion
- Pickled jalapeños and/or pickled red onions
- Shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican-style blend)
- Sour cream (or plain full-fat Greek yogurt)
- Lime wedges
- Sauteed corn, if it's in season
In the photos here, I used avocado, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, sauteed corn and a little cheese.
Turkey Chili Variations
- Turkey: You can use ground chicken instead of ground turkey (of course, then it would be chicken chili). Ground beef would also work in this recipe, but if you want to use beef then check out my Game Day Chili with beef.
- Veggies: Any white, yellow, or even red onion works in the base of this chili. Use what you have. You can add a diced bell pepper when you add the onions, too, if you have one, but there are already so many other flavors here that I don't usually add it.
- If you're short on spices you can just use the chili powder and cumin and leave out the oregano and coriander. But try to use them, they add wonderful flavor. In order of importance use the chili powder, cumin, coriander then oregano if you have to prioritize them. Or, replace all of the dry spices with a 1-ounce packet of chili seasoning.
- We like fire-roasted tomatoes here for extra flavor, but any can of diced or crushed tomatoes can work. As I mentioned above, I'd avoid the one with basil in it. You can also use 1 pound of fresh tomatoes, chopped. You may need to add more stock or water if you use fresh tomatoes.
- Adding in a 6- to 12-ounce can of plain tomato sauce will thicken up your chili and make it saucier. I do this occasionally but it's not totally necessary.
- We like kidney beans and black beans in this chili recipe, but any beans work. Pinto beans are also traditional in chili recipes.
- This recipe calls for chicken broth (aka chicken stock) because it's easy to find or make, but turkey stock is another obvious great choice. Water or veggie stock also works if you don't have any stock on hand. I've used water many times and it still works great. You may need to add a little extra salt if you use water.
Crockpot Turkey Chili
If you need to leave the house all day and want to come home to some delicious slow cooker turkey chili, you can simply sauté the turkey and onions as described in steps 1 and 2 in the recipe card below, then add it plus the rest of the ingredients (without the garnishes) to a slow cooker (aka Crockpot) and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-4 hours. You'll get the best texture if you cook and crumble to ground turkey before adding it to the Crockpot.
What about Instant Pot Turkey Chili?
I wouldn't make this in an Instant Pot because you still need to saute the ground turkey to cook it through, then in the amount of time it takes to come up to pressure then release you could have just as easily made it on the stovetop without getting the Instant Pot out.
Let leftover chili come to room temperature then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Freezes well for up to 3 months (without garnishes).Print
Easy Turkey Chili Recipe
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Chop, Saute, Simmer
- Cuisine: American
This easy ground turkey chili recipe can be ready in less than 30 minutes and makes for a flavorful healthy meal any time of the week.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey (preferably the 93% lean version)
- 1 small to medium white or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 2 teaspoons chili powder (mild or medium, your preference)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander
- ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or any oregano)
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, including the juices
- 1 (14-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups chicken stock (or water)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt or sea salt, more to taste if needed
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- optional and recommended garnishes: avocado, Greek yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheese, sauteed whole corn kernels, cilantro, pickled or fresh jalapeno
- Heat oil in a large pot or high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, breaking turkey into smaller pieces until turkey is cooked through and some of it has browned, about 6-7 minutes.
- Add the diced onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
- Lower the heat to medium to medium-low then add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano and coriander. Cook the garlic and spices in the mixture 2-3 minutes until very fragrant, using the lower heat to ensure the garlic doesn't burn.
- Bring the heat back up to medium-high and add the diced tomatoes with their juices, drained and rinsed beans, stock (or water), salt, and pepper. Stir well.
- Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until chili has thickened a little bit. You can leave it on low on the stove with a lid for as long as you need. Use the lid to prevent the liquid from evaporating if leaving for longer than 30 minutes. Add an additional cup of water or stock to thin out at any time if needed.
- Serve and top with optional toppings, if desired. We like sliced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, jalapeno, cilantro, and sauteed corn if it's in season.
Notes & Substitutions:
- Any healthy cooking oil can be used in place of the olive oil, we also sometimes use avocado oil, and add 1 additional tablespoon of oil if using 99% lean ground turkey
- This recipe is also great with ground chicken
- Any white, yellow or even red onion works here
- A packet of chili seasoning can be used to replace the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and coriander, if desired
- We like fire-roasted tomatoes here for extra flavor, but any can of diced or crushed tomatoes can work. I'd avoid the one with basil in it. You can also use 1 pound of fresh tomatoes, chopped. You may need to add more stock or water if you use fresh tomatoes.
- Any beans are also great here.
- This recipe calls for chicken stock because it's easy to find or make, but turkey stock is another obvious great choice. Water or veggie stock also work if you don't have any stock on hand.
- Always adjust salt and pepper to your liking at the end of a recipe.
Keywords: Turkey Chili, Healthy Turkey Chili Recipe
This homemade Turkey Chili is so easy and delicious, that you'll never buy another can of prepared chili again.
A big bowl of better-for-you Turkey Chili, that is easily thrown together with simple ingredients in less than 30 minutes.
I have made this chili 3 times now since you posted the recipe! It's been a big hit and it is so easy to make!
So glad to hear it! We love this healthy turkey chili recipe and make it all of the time, too 🙂 ~E
Hi Elizabeth, I made this last week in the instant pot, just so I could keep it warm until dinner. It turned out great! It will be on rotation this winter 😉
Glad to hear it! We love this one, too. Thanks for stopping by to let us know! ~E