Easy Ground Turkey Chili

This quick and delicious stove top chili recipe is perfect for cool days, game day, or anytime you’re hankering for a big bowl of chili! Thick, hearty, and healthy too! A great meal option any day of the week.

a stoneware bowl filled with healthy turkey chili topped with cheese, frito chips, sour cream, and diced red bell peppers. Another bowl of chili sits in the background, along with a small bowl of cheese and bowl of fritos on a wooden board. a white linen and spoons sit in frame too.

There is just something about chili that is so warming and cozy, making it the perfect meal for a chilly day. Living in the upper Midwest, fall and winter is definitely ‘chili and soup season’, with a big pot of something good on several times a week.

This easy ground turkey chili recipe has become one of our go-to meal options. Using lean ground turkey is a great way to cut back on the calories and fat of a classic beef chili but still enjoy a hearty and flavorful meal!

Turkey chili is a healthy, high protein dinner option that also has a good amount of veggies. My family loves making big batches of this chili recipe because it stays well in the refrigerator to enjoy throughout the week. It also freezes well, so you can portion out meals for an easy meal at a later date too.

If you love this chili recipe, you definitely need to try this 3-Bean Vegetarian Chili and this Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili with bacon too!

Jump to:

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

It’s just a darn good chili. Everytime I eat this chili I just can’t help but say “man, this is just such a good chili”. Simple, classic, deliciousness.

Quick and easy to make. This chili is a great recipe for busy people, or those who are newer to cooking. This turkey chili is ready in 45 minutes when cooking it on the stovetop. But the hands-on time for this recipe is really only about 15 minutes for chopping and browning your turkey. Then you let your meal simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

Flavorful and hearty. This turkey chili is super flavorful and filling. And it uses seasonings you likely have in your pantry already!

Healthier ingredients. Lean ground turkey, beans, tomatoes, and bell peppers make this chili healthier than a classic beef chili.

Ingredients Needed

ingredients to make healthy ground turkey chili.

Lean Ground Turkey. This recipe uses a mixture of 99% lean ground turkey and 90-93% lean ground turkey (depending on what is available at your store – it can sometimes vary). Using a lean ground turkey with a slightly higher fat percentage for half of your meat adds great flavor to your chili while keeping your dish healthy.

See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

  • Change the beans: I use kidney beans in this turkey chili recipe, but you can use a wide variety of beans! Pinto beans, white beans, chili beans, and black beans would all be great in this recipe. You could also use two types of beans (using 1, 15oz can of each).
  • Add corn: a lot of people love corn in their chili, and if that’s you, add some in! I would recommend using frozen cord (or using 1, 15oz can of sweet corn that is drained and rinsed) for this recipe. Add the corn at the same time as your beans.
  • Add green chilis. Green chilis add a nice, mild flavor to chilis. If this sounds appealing to you, add 1, 7oz can of green chilis.
  • Make this into a no bean turkey chili. Not into beans? Just skip them! Because of the quantity of beans in this recipe, it would be wise to add another pound of ground turkey in it’s place.
  • Use a different combination of ground turkey. I use half extra-lean (99% lean) ground turkey and half lean (93% lean) ground turkey when I make this chili. Having some turkey with a higher fat content adds some extra flavor and richness. However, you’re welcome to use all extra-lean or all lean if that’s your preference!
  • Worried about the heat? Start with less chili powder. I would not consider this a spicy chili by any means, but if you are sensitive to heat, feel free to start with 1 Tablespoon of chili powder instead of 2. Taste the chili after it’s simmered for a while and decide if you’d like to add more.

Step-By-Step Stovetop Instructions

process shot of making easy turkey chili on the stove top. this shows ingredients going into a large pot.

Step 1: Add olive oil to a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

process shot of making easy turkey chili on the stove top. showing turkey being browned with olive oil.

Step 2: Add the ground turkey and begin to cook and brown it.

process shot of making easy turkey chili on the stove top. this shows ingredients going into a large pot.

Step 3: When the turkey is still slightly pink, add in the onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic.

process shot of making easy turkey chili on the stove top. shows ingredients being stirred together.

Step 4: Stir to continue cooking the meat, and softening the onion and bell peppers. Break apart large pieces of turkey with your spoon as it cooks.

process shot of making easy turkey chili on the stove top. this shows ingredients going into a large pot.

Step 5: When the turkey is fully browned, stir in the spices.

process shot of making easy turkey chili on the stove top. this shows ingredients going into a large pot.

Step 6: Then add the petite diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir to combine.

process shot of making easy turkey chili on the stove top. this shows ingredients going into a large pot.

Step 7: Add in the beans and stir to combine.

process shot of making easy turkey chili on the stove top. shows ingredients being stirred together.

Step 8: Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer and thicken for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Slow Cooker Instructions

If you’d prefer to make this as a slow cooker turkey chili, you totally can! There are just a few steps needed to do this:

First, brown the turkey and onion with olive oil in a large pan over medium heat on the stove before adding it to the slow cooker. This provides the best texture for your meat, softens the onion, and adds nice flavor to your chili.

When the turkey and onions are ready, add them to the basin of your slow cooker. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

Possible Dietary Restrictions?

As written, this turkey chili recipe is gluten free. However, if you are serving this to someone with celiac disease, make sure they have gluten free topping options too! Cheese, herbs, avocado, peppers are all fine. You can also look for gluten free tortilla chips or crackers. 

Because turkey is a star ingredient in this recipe, I do not recommend trying to modify this to be vegetarian or vegan. However, this is my go-to vegetarian and vegan chili recipe, which I highly recommend for those looking for a meatless option.

Chili Toppings

Load your ground turkey chili with all of your favorite chili toppings! Some of my favorite toppings for chili include:

  • Shredded Cheese – cheddar, colby jack, Tex-Mex, etc.
  • Oyster Crackers
  • Cilantro
  • Green Onions
  • Slices of Jalapeno
  • Diced Red Bell Pepper
  • Avocado
  • Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Tortilla Chips or Tortilla Strips
  • Regular Fritos or Fritos Scoops – I recently had this at a friend’s chili cookoff and I am hooked.
  • Hot sauce – for those who like a little extra heat.

Storage

Store leftover turkey chili in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat portions in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through and warmed to your liking. 

Leftovers can also be stored in the freezer for up to 4 months. I recommend freezing single-serve portions in freezer-safe containers (or zip-top baggies) for easy grab-and-go when ready to enjoy. Thaw frozen chili in the fridge overnight and heat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Helpful Equipment

You’ll need to use a large soup pot or Dutch oven on the stove. Or use a larger sized slow cooker if desired.

Recipe FAQs

Can I replace the turkey with another kind of meat?

Absolutely! You can replace the ground turkey with any ground meat of your choice (such as ground beef, ground pork, or ground chicken).

Can I use leftover turkey in chili?

Yes! If you plan to use leftover cooked turkey in this chili recipe, start by sautéing the onion and bell pepper with the olive oil. Add chopped, cubed, or pulled leftover turkey at the same time you add the tomatoes prior to simmering. Replace each pound of ground turkey with 2-3 cups of leftover turkey.

Does turkey chili taste the same as beef?

Ground turkey chili has a very similar texture and heartiness as ground beef chili. Using classic chili spices and ingredients in turkey chili makes it taste similar to beef chili.

Love This Recipe? You May Also Enjoy

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a stoneware bowl filled with ground turkey chili topped with cheese, frito chips, sour cream, and diced red bell peppers. there is a spoon in the bowl. Another bowl of chili sits in the foreground, along with a small bowl of fritos chips and white linen.

Easy Ground Turkey Chili

Meredith
Quick, easy, and flavorful turkey chili that is thick, hearty, and healthy! Perfect for cool days, game day, or as a weekday meal.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 10 Servings
Calories 195 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey (1 lb 90-93% lean , 1 lb 99% lean)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (~4 teaspoons)
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder*
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2, 15oz cans petite diced tomatoes, lightly drained
  • 2, 15oz cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1, 15oz can tomato sauce

Instructions
 

Stovetop Method

  • Add olive oil to a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in ground turkey to brown. Cook for about 5 minutes until the turkey has begun to brown (but is still a little pink).
  • Add in the onion, bell peppers, and minced garlic. Continue to cook, stirring and breaking apart large pieces of meat, until the turkey is totally cooked.
  • Stir in the oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and kidney beans. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Slow Cooker Method

  • Brown the turkey and onion with olive oil in a large pan over medium heat on the stove before adding it to the slow cooker. This provides the best texture for your meat, softens the onion, and adds nice flavor to your chili.
  • When the turkey and onions are ready, add them to the basin of your slow cooker. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

Notes

*Chili powder amount: I would not consider this a spicy chili by any means, but if you are sensitive to heat, start with 1 Tablespoon of chili powder instead of 2. Taste the chili after it’s simmered for a while and decide if you’d like to add more.
*Chili topping ideas:
  • Shredded Cheese – cheddar, colby jack, tex-mex, etc.
  • Oyster Crackers
  • Cilantro
  • Green Onions
  • Slices of Jalapeno
  • Diced Red Bell Pepper
  • Avocado
  • Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Tortilla Chips or Tortilla Strips
  • Regular Fritos or Fritos Scoops
  • Hot sauce
*Storage:
  • Store leftover turkey chili in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat portions in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through and warmed to your liking. 
  • Leftovers can also be stored in the freezer for up to 4 months. I recommend freezing single-serve portions in freezer-safe containers (or zip-top baggies) for easy grab-and-go when ready to enjoy. Thaw frozen chili in the fridge overnight and heat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 25gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 795mgPotassium: 675mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1129IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 53mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. However, please know that I strive to provide links to products that I actually use and wholeheartedly recommend whenever possible.
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Comments

  1. Danny K says

    5 stars
    Darn good chili right here!!

    • Meredith says

      So happy to hear you enjoyed it!

  2. Maren says

    5 stars
    So easy and delicious. I prefer my chili with more heat, so always increase that to my taste since this is a milder recipe. Love it!

    • Meredith says

      So glad you enjoyed it, and were able to amp up the heat to your liking! Thanks for giving this recipe a go 🙂

  3. Vivienne says

    5 stars
    So good! Perfect for a football and holiday weekend!

    • Meredith says

      I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it!! Thanks for giving this recipe a try.