Today I have my classic home made Turkey Chili made with pinto beans and fresh vegetables. It tastes just like classic chili, with less saturated fat and makes a healthy and cozy winter meal.

turkey chili

I originally shared this recipe on february 28th, 2011, I have updated the text and photos today. 

Last weekend, we were getting ready to watch some football and I ran down to the market for the ingredients for this chili, and I ran into my friend. I was so flattered to hear that she was shopping for ingredients for this spaghetti squash recipe from deep within the archives. She said that her whole family loves it, so she makes it all the time.  I told her that I was making an old favorite from the archives too: Turkey Chili with Pintos.

I told her that this was one of my favorite recipes from the whole website, and it really needed a new photo. When I got home and made it again, I confirmed that indeed it was fantastic, and I fell in love with it all over. Here are the reasons why it garners awesomesauce points IMO and wins a spot on the best of healthy seasonal recipes list:

turkey chili closeup

How To Make Great Tasting Turkey Chili

Add Lime Juice

It has lime juice in it. As you know, I have a thing for sour stuff, and I think adding a bit of vinegar or acid to a recipe is the culinary equivalent to Harry Potter Defeating the Dark Lord in the wizarding world. 

What I mean by that is that acid helps to balance salt, and it wakes up all the other flavors in a dish, neutralizes bitter but adds only negligible calories. 

Add Lots of Vegetables

 It has a boatload of veggies in it, namely peppers, which are in season locally right now, so I am all excited about that. Did you know that peppers are really high in vitamin C? Yup! Eat ‘em up. I used regular old bell peppers from the farm down the road, and a big jalapeño. The jalapeño was not very spicy, but I left the seeds out for the little taste buds at the table.

Moderately Spicy- Add Hot Sauce to Taste

 Which brings me to the fact that it is not too spicy for my wee sassypants daughters. This they thank me for. Jase and I add a indecent amount of Cholula to ours since we love all things with spice. But I love that my daughters will eat this chili. That is a win for sure. And if you don’t like the spice, you will love the flavor of it. If you want more, add in the jalapeño seeds or a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce.

Quick Cooking- Add Cornmeal

It has a sprinkling of cornmeal in it to thicken-it-up instead of cooking it for-evs to reduce it. That way you can make the whole shootin’ match in 40 minutes. Done deal.

Add Oregano for Southwest Flair

It has oregano in it, which I love because in New Mexico, you’ll find this in traditional cuisine, and though a bit unexpected to most palates it really does taste awesome in the chili.

More Chili Recipes

This Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes is loaded with veggies! 

This Turkey Picadillo Chili with quinoa is another slightly sweet chili to try.

For something a little different try this Slow Cooker Paleo Beef Chili! 

This White Chicken Chili is one of my favorites because it is both a Slow Cooker and Meal Prep recipe! 

I know it sounds strange, but adding a little maple syrup to chili is actually amazing. Try it in my recipe for Smoky and Sweet Turkey Chili

Oh and for a twist, try these Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili Tortilla Bowls.


Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review!

Happy Cooking!


a black bowl with turkey chili

turkey chili with pintos

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


Today I am going to show you how to make Turkey Chili from scratch with lean ground turkey (or chicken if you prefer), lots of fresh vegetables (including bell peppers), onions, scallions and jalapeno and a little cornmeal to thicken it! Serve topped with avocado and toasted pepitas for a healthy winter meal.



  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small green bell peppers or anaheim peppers, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
1 bunch scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced, seeds to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes
, crushed by hand or cut into chunks
  • 2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Garnishes: diced avocado, toasted pine nuts or pepitas, minced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottom soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Crumble in turkey or chicken and cook, breaking up large pieces until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, peppers, onion, scallion whites and jalapeño and cook, stirring often until the vegetables are cooked down and mostly softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in chili powder, cumin and salt and cook until the spices are fragrant 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  Sprinkle the cornmeal over the vegetable mixture and stir to coat.  Stir in tomatoes, beans and broth and bring to a simmer, stirring often.
  3. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the chili is thick and the onions and peppers are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in lime juice, oregano and the remaining scallion greens.  Serve with garnishes if desired.


This recipe can be made up to three days in advance. Rewarm over medium low heat, stirring often.

Freeze this recipe up to three months. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave. Warm until piping hot before serving.


  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups each
  • Calories: 330
  • Sugar: 5.5 g
  • Sodium: 850 mg
  • Fat: 12.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 34 g
  • Fiber: 10 g
  • Protein: 23 g