Easy Authentic Cincinnati Style Chili

May 26, 2021

By: Miranda Lamb

When my older brother comes to town, we all know where he is headed first. For some Skyline chili! I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and when you talk about chili in Cincinnati, you mean Cincinnati style chili. Cincinnati chili is a spicy chili that is poured over spaghetti and piled high with cheese and running over with oyster crackers. And it is a favorite in our family. You are going to love this easy authentic Cincinnati style chili that will turn ground beef into a dinner experience!

Cincinnati style chili

As mentioned, my older brother loves Skyline chili, a restaurant that serves Cincinnati style chili. Family legend even has it that once when my brother was picked up at the airport, by my dad, on THANKSGIVING DAY, they made a pit stop at Skyline chili before coming home. But as I don’t want to throw my brother under the bus and bring up bad memories for my dear mother, who at the time was home slaving over a hot stove, I won’t mention that story;) Due to my brother’s family living out of state, my sister-in-law resorted to finding a copycat Skyline chili recipe which we have all swapped and tweaked for years.

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Since I still live in Ohio, I can certainly run to get the real deal down the road, but as we try to stay on budget by not eating out too much, I love having this easy authentic Cincinnati style chili recipe that I can make at home! And the canned Cincinnati style chili is very pricey so I typically only use it for dips.

Cincinnati style chili, Skyline copycat

So let’s jump into the tricks and secrets into how to make this chili at home! While this Cincinnati style chili comes together quickly, one major trick to making this chili taste like Skyline chili is to make it ahead and then put in the fridge. The time allows the flavors to really come together for that rich spicy Cincinnati style chili experience. I typically either make it the day before. Or I make it in the morning, let it simmer for an hour or so, cool and then put in the fridge till evening.

Cincinnati style chili, skyline copycat

Authentic Cincinnati style chili recipe is full of spices. I love to use all the spices, but then I ensure that rich Cincinnati chili style flavor by using part of the packet of store bought Cincinnati style seasoning packet. It varies which packet I use, but I tend to use one called Cincinnati Recipe. As you will see the recipe below has lots of seasonings. So I just use the pre-made seasoning packet to up the flavor while still using individual seasonings.

Cincinnati style chili, skyline copycat

And lastly, I owe my final tip to my sister-in-law. I kept complaining that my chili never turned out as good as hers till she coughed up her secret! After the chili is all made, take 1/3 of the chili and place in a blender! Who knew? Blend for just a few seconds. You just want to make a portion of the meat super fine to create a sauce that covers the noodles better. Then place the blended chili back into your pot of chili and stir to recombine.

Cincinnati style chili, skyline copycat

Finally, Cincinnati style chili can be made served several different ways. You can have a 3-Way which is spaghetti, chili and cheese. A 4-Way is spaghetti, chili, beans or onions and cheese. And a 5-Way is spaghetti, chili, beans, onions and cheese. Whichever way you choose, you’ll love this rich Cincinnati style chili!

Delicious Cincinnati style chili recipe! Love Skyline chili and can't get enough?

Enjoy! Grab the handy recipe down below!

Easy Authentic Cincinnati Style Chili

A spicy chili that is poured over hot spaghetti and served with your choice of beans, onions and cheese! Famous in Cincinnati, Ohio
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beans, cheese, ground beef, spaghetti
Servings: 8 people


  • soup pot


  • 2 lbs Ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chili powder I use Cincinnati Recipe chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 square unsweetened chocolate (1 ounce) can sub cocoa powder
  • 2 cans (10.5) beef broth
  • 2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • shredded cheese
  • oyster crackers
  • 1 box spaghetti
  • 1 can red beans (rinsed) (optional) for topping
  • 1 small onion chopped (optional) for topping


  • Pour 1 cup of water in soup pot and add beef. Brown and break up beef as it cooks in the simmering water. Drain water from cooked beef.
  • Add chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, chocolate, cider vinegar, beef broth, and tomato sauce. Stir all together.
  • Allow chili to come to a boil. Then back heat off to a simmer. Allow chili to simmer, stirring infrequently, for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Take 1/3 of chili and place in blender. Blend for 5 seconds. Pour chili back into pot.
  • Chili is more flavorful if placed in refrigerator for the afternoon or overnight.
  • When ready to serve, take chili out of fridge and reheat on stovetop. Boil spaghetti while chili warms. Serve chili over hot spaghetti. Serve with cheese and oyster crackers. Add beans or onions if you choose. Enjoy!

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