Healthy turkey and veggie chili


With my head buried in books for the past few weeks I’ve had very little time to emerge to make dinner. On days when I decide crackers aren’t substantial enough for a full meal, I usually heat up Trader Joe’s tomato soup, toss together some semblance of a salad, or bake chicken thighs…OR beg Lucas to figure out dinner because I’ve waited so long that I’m now officially hangry. So, I shamefully admit that this is the first real meal I’ve actually cooked in a few weeks. When Lucas walked in to the smells of various spices wafting through the air last week (yes, I’m behind), he grinned, “it’s been awhile since you cooked!” And OH. MY. GAWD.  What a dish to make a comeback with! Packed with veggies, protein, and rich spices, this homemade turkey and veggie chili makes a perfect pre-wedding meal. And the mere 15 minutes of hands-on time was a definite bonus for my busy study schedule.

I grew up with microwaved canned turkey chili. You know, the kind that kinda looks like dog food coming out of the can, but tastes oh-so-delicious. After a couple of minutes in the microwave, we’d drop a handful of goldfish crackers to swim around in the bowl before digging in. Nom Nom Nom.

This healthy spin on turkey and veggie chili knocks that canned version out of the ballpark, getting even more rich and flavorful as leftovers the next day. Just the right balance of sweetness from the corn, heat from the spices, and freshness from the vegetables. And there no reason to feel guilty after a heaping bowl of this stuff. To fancy it up a little more than the canned chili of my past, I served this chili up with a slice of the most delicious homemade buttermilk cornbread I’ve ever eaten. Seriously, where has this cornbread recipe been hiding all my life? Okay, so maybe it counters the healthiness of the chili, but  at least I made the cornbread a teensy bit healthier by reducing the butter by half. My oh my, this combination is unforgettable.

Shortly after my cooking comeback, Lucas boarded a plane to China to prep for the launch of the iPhone 5. I quickly resorted back to my “eat what’s in the house and takes less than 5 minutes of energy” philosophy (or, as was the case this past few days, “drive up to Chico and eat what’s in Mom’s kitchen”), but at least this time I had crazy good leftovers in the fridge.

Note: Once I pass (fingers crossed) my qualifying exam in November, I plan to spend weeks in the kitchen making up for this dry spell, I promise!

Healthy turkey and veggie chili
Yields: 6 servings
  • 1½ teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1½ tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ½- ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the turkey and cook until browned, stirring to break it up as it cooks.
  3. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic, and cook for a few minutes, stirring, until tender.
  4. Mix in canned tomatoes, beans, corn, spices, and soy sauce. Add the water and stir to combine.
  5. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes until the chili thickens. (*Sometimes I simmer with the lid on, sometimes completely off - if you're finding that your chili isn't thickening to your desire, try removing the lid completely)
  6. Serve with freshly baked corn bread (by popular demand, here's a link to my corn bread recipe).

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  1. Colette says:

    Cornbread & chili make such a cute couple, don’t they?

  2. Becky says:

    this turkey chili sounds so good with all of the veggies,, and spices. Vhili season is definitely here. Can’t wait to try it.

  3. Sheri says:

    I’m going to definitely try this recipe! With Justin at home for awhile, I may try making it with soy ground beef…I’ll keep you posted!

  4. coraline says:

    I wonder if you could post the corn bread recipe as well because it looks soo delicious…

    greetings from germany. unfortunately corn bread is quite exotic where I live :)

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      I’ll post the cornbread recipe soon! I need to make it again because the sun was going down as I was trying to get pictures…and then we had to eat it all – haha. In the meantime, I’ll e-mail it to you so you don’t have to wait!

      • coraline says:

        I just checked my mail. thank you very much!
        is it very sweet? do you think I could reduce the amount of sugar a bit just in case?
        I’ll definitely try the combo very soon.

      • Julie says:

        Did you post the cornbread recipe yet? I want to make this chili but would love to make the cornbread too. Thanks.

        • SnixyKitchen says:

          So sorry! I’ve been really behind with posting as I cram for my qualifying exams. I just e-mailed you the recipe:)

  5. I have never seen ground turkey before at any of our butchers. Would love to try using it. This recipe looks really warming – perfect comfort food.

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      I actually got this ground turkey at Trader Joe’s (do they have one of those where you are?). Otherwise, you might be able to find it just at the local supermarket if the butchers don’t have it! Goodluck:)

  6. What a comeback (and welcome from your short reprieve from the books)!

  7. Veronica says:

    I love chili and corn bread. It comes from my Texas roots but moving up East made me realize that other parts of the country have their own version. Up East sweet corn bread is eaten and I always had my cornbread minus the sugar. We use pinto beans in our Texas chili and up East it was red beans. Although some Texans think chili minus the beans I say give me the beans. I too would like the corn bread recipe please.

  8. Peggy says:

    I’ll definitely be making this chili very soon! The weather is perfect for a meal like this =)

  9. Heidi says:

    This looks and sounds wonderful, I love the extra added addition of the veggies. And the cornbread is a must with chili, I always serve a jalepeno cornbread for a little more kick.

  10. Jessica says:

    I just made this chili and it is absolutely delicious! I, unfortunately, forgot to buy fresh garlic cloves, so I ended up having to use a bit extra garlic powder. It still turned out great though! I doubled the recipe and made it for my family. They all loved it!
    I have just a couple questions:
    About how much would you say is 1 serving?
    And do you happen to know the calorie content as well?

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      So glad you loved it! I’m sure the extra garlic powder worked just fine. We ate about 2-3 big ladles full of chili each (about a cereal bowl full). I’ll use a calorie calculator to figure that out when I get home and let you know! Thanks again for sharing:)

      • Jessica says:

        I ended up having a bunch left over, which I’m very happy about because now I can freeze some have have it for the rest of the week! (:
        And thank you so much! There’s no rush at all with the calorie count, I was just curious. (:

        • SnixyKitchen says:

          Yeah, I try to be a little generous with my serving amounts on my recipes because I’d hate for someone to make it thinking it’d serve 7 or 8, but only serve 6! For us, it made 6 servings (but my marathon-runner fiancé eats a lot these days). That said, the recipe I have up here is about 357 calories per serving if it is split into 6 servings. We loved the leftovers – thought it tasted even better as lunch the next day! So happy to hear that you enjoyed it too:)

  11. Jelena N. says:

    We made this tonight and loved it!! Thank you for sharing!! I will Pin it to spread the word :)

  12. Danielle says:

    This looks awesome! Could it also be made in the good ol’ Crock Pot? Would love to make it on a chilly work day :)

    • Jessica says:

      I made it in the Crock Pot and it turned out just fine! Actually, it was better than “just fine.” It was SUPER DELICIOUS! (:

      • SnixyKitchen says:

        Thanks for sharing! I was about to say “probably, but I’ve never tried it.” I just got my new crock pot in the mail and can’t wait to try it in the crock pot:)

      • Michelle says:

        How did this work in the crock pot? How long and what temp did you cook it?

        • While I’ve still never made it in the crock pot before, other similar recipes online suggest cooking it for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. The great thing about slow cookers is that you don’t have to be so precise.

  13. Lauren says:

    Hi I just made this and the flavors are PERFECT! Just enough kick, i love it! My batch came out alittle loose/watery though, any suggestions to thicken it up?


    • SnixyKitchen says:

      Hi! So happy to hear you like the flavors. I’m not sure what might have cause it to be a little more watery. Two suggestions: If you let it simmer a little bit longer on the stove, some of the water should reduce, which will thicken the overall consistency. You could also try just reducing the amount of water you add – I don’t think that it would alter the flavors at all. I found that my sauce thickened even more when we reheated it as leftovers – did this happen for you too?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

    • Jessica says:

      I’m not sure if it would work in this recipe, but I know a lot of other chili recipes call for a few tablespoons of flour to thicken it up. Maybe you could try that?

  14. laureen says:

    going to the grocery store today to get the ingredients to make this awesome looking chili!

  15. Katherine says:

    I added a jalepeno to this recipe and it added a really nice flavor! Great recipe!

  16. Kathleen says:

    Sounds delicious. Would also love the cornbread recipe!

  17. Brie says:

    Do you mind emailing me the cornbread recipe, too? I’d love to cook this for dinner tomorrow!!

  18. Derky says:

    Hi this sounds great. can the leftovers be frozen

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      Absolutely – this makes a perfect freezer meal to pull out when you just need something quick! Goodluck:)

  19. Cathy Greyland says:

    This recipe sounds awesome. Going shopping for the ingredients next shopping trip. Would it be possible to get a copy of your cornbread recipe? Thanks a million

  20. Dorothy says:

    I would appreciate it if you would email me your recipe for this delicious looking cornbread. I would love to try it with your Chili recipe. Thanks in advance.

  21. lorriu says:

    Thanks! I am making it tomorrow. We are carnivores but learning to give meat up. My husband loves beans. Hope he can forget about the traitional chili like his mom made, and try something new! What is “soy beef”?

    I make Jiffy corn bread. I would love your recipe to try instead! Thanking you in advance!

    Good luck with exams!

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      Hi – I just sent it your way!

      My brother is vegan for health reasons, so my mom buys soy-based fake ground beef for him – I’ll have to check with her to find out the brand she buys and let you know!

  22. Derek Hastings says:

    Hello Snixy,

    My wife forwarded your recipe to me to read. And, as I got towards the bottom of the blog, you mentioned driving up to Chico for some of you mom’s food. What a surprise. We live in Chico! Just thought that that was quite a coincidence. Did you grow up here in Chico?

    Will most likely try the recipe.

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      Hi! What a coincidence! I did actually grow up in Chico – PV class of ’03. My husband and I just got married up in Chico in my parents’ backyard. I hope you enjoy the chili – I was just telling my husband that I need to bring this recipe back now that the weather’s getting cooler.

  23. David says:

    This recipes was linked to from a weight loss website. Sure would be great if there was nutrition info ( caught the calories above. Thanks for that)

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      Hello! I am sorry it took so long to get this to you – I’ve linked to the nutritional information in the recipe – hope this helps! Enjoy:)

      • But link does not work... :( says:

        I love love love the chili! It is my new favorite chili recipe. But I am on a weight-loss program and need the nutrition values. Thx!! :)

  24. Shirley says:

    Loved it. I made it almost as written, but I didn’t have (or understand why I would use) reduced sodium soy sauce so I skipped that bit and just added extra salt and a little extra cumin. So good! Came out delicious, beautiful, and thick. I’ll make this again maybe with even more veggies next time. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      Thank you! The soy sauce adds just a bit of flavor and salt. It’s not a major ingredient, so replacing it with salt would work too! So glad you liked it – thanks for sharing:)

  25. Kris says:

    Can you please let me know who many calories is in a serving of this healthy turkey and veggie chill and … how much is a serving size.
    ALso looking at protein and carb count.
    Thank You!
    Kris Thomas :)

    • Dokey says:

      Hope she answers you. I emailed the same question several weeks ago. Regardless of whether we get an answer it is delicious!

      • SnixyKitchen says:

        Hello! Thank you for reading and for your feedback! Sorry I haven’t responded yet – I’m in Taipei and Tokyo for my honeymoon right now, so I do not have much internet time for the next two weeks. In the meantime, I find this website super useful when wanting nutrition facts: – Hope it helps! I can look into this when I get back at the end of the month:)

        • SnixyKitchen says:

          Hello! I am sorry it took so long to get this to you – I’ve linked to the nutritional information in the recipe – hope this helps! Enjoy:)

  26. christina says:

    I just made a healthy homemade chili recipe tonight. You can find it on my blog:

  27. LOVE this recipe! Never used to be a chili fan until I found turkey chili! The only problem I had is that my soup never thickened, even after 45 minutes. Next time I may try using half of the water?

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      Hi Sarah – I’m so glad you loved it! Hmm -I’m not sure why your soup never thickened. There are tons of factors that could influence it (temperature, pot material, pot size, etc.). Rather than cutting the water, I recommend that next time you remove the lid for about 15-20 minutes while simmering; I’ve made this recipe more times than I can count on fingers and by now I find myself adjusting things here and there depending on the day. When my friend and I made an enormous batch (three times this recipe), we ended up simmering it with the lid off. Hope this helps!

  28. Ashley says:

    Just pinned this and bookmarked it – can’t wait to try it!

  29. Jamie says:

    I made this today without the turkey and it was AMAAAAZING, so delicious and flavorful. You just have a perfect spice blend here. I simmered it without the lid on and it thickened beautifully – I’ll definitely be making it again, and maybe throwing in some extra veggies next time! :)

    • SnixyKitchen says:

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that you also loved it! It’s my go-to recipe for big parties and potlucks. We usually just toss in whatever we’ve got on hand and need to use up – some zucchini or spinach or whatever else! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with it – love to hear when people cook my recipes:)

  30. Erica says:

    Thank you for sharing this great recipe, it was delicious!!! The flavors all work together so nicely! I added sweet potato cubes and switched white beans for the pinto beans for personal prefernece and we love it!

    • I am so so glad that you loved this recipe – it’s a monthly staple in our house. I love that you tossed in some sweet potato too – and the white beans sound like a tasty choice as well. Thank you SO much for coming back to share this with me:)

  31. Diana says:

    Just made the chili today. Very tasty. I made two small changes: instead of water I used chicken broth and added a tablespoon of tomato paste. Next time I will use a little less cumin. I like that it has lots of beans and the veggies. Thank you for sharing.

  32. Sarah says:

    How long would you cook this for in the crockpot?


    • While I’ve never made it in the crock pot before, other similar recipes suggest cooking it for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. The great thing about the crockpot is there’s no need to be precise!

  33. Jenna says:

    How often does trying a random Internet recipe work out? This chili was so delicious! It was a bit watery so I added a sprinkle of corn starch and voila.

    • I’m so glad it worked out for you! The corn starch is a great idea! Another thing you can do if it’s a bit watery is to remove the lid and cook it a bit longer just to let some of the moisture evaporate. Thanks so much for coming back and sharing!

  34. Cody says:

    As a gentleman in his mid-twenties who is only just learning how to cook healthy meals for himself, this was an amazing find! It was easy to make and came out spicy and delicious. Thank you for helping me cook like an adult.

  35. Frances says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Not sure if this has already been answered, but could you specify the amount when you say a “can” of kidney/pinto/black beans?

    The chili looks delicious – looking forward to making it!


  36. Traci says:

    Trying this out as my first ‘fall’ chilli recipe! Thanks for posting such an easy to follow recipe with items I already have in my cupboards. I look forward to tasting the finished product!

  37. Jenny says:

    This sounds delicious and hearty! I don’t have a pot big enough unfortunately. Can this be made in a slow cooker? If so, how would you recommend I cook it?

    • While I’ve still never made it in the crock pot before, other similar recipes online suggest cooking it for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. One reader above mentioned making it in the slow cooker and it turned out great!

  38. Elizabeth says:

    I had most of the ingredients but all I had was dried beans. (Pressure cooker for the win there). The flavors were very good and my husband has a full and happy belly.


  39. Ada says:

    Thanks for the super easy and delicious chili and cornbread recipe…my first time making both!!! My kids even loved it, I just put less chili powder. I’ll definitely be making this again!

  40. Katherine says:

    Cannot locate Nutritional information using link. Does anyone have the Nutritional info.? Thank you.

  41. Carrie says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the chili! But the link to nutrition values doesn’t work. :(

    • Hi Carrie, Thanks! I do not provide nutritional information, because the ingredients people use can vary so much, but the link below the recipe is to a nutritional calculator where you can copy/paste the ingredients, adjusting to what you use, to calculate! Let me know if you have any trouble! Thanks!

  42. Tammy says:

    I have made this chili and it was delicious but I thought it had smoked paprika in it. Was the recipe changed to plain paprika?

    • Hi Tammy! So glad to hear it – this is a family favorite. I haven’t change it – I’ve always used regular paprika in it but I bet smoked paprika would be delicious too!

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