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This award winning Turkey Chili is thick and hearty and bursting with flavor.  This healthier chili recipe is loaded with tender beans, lean ground turkey, and the perfect blend of spice.

Bowl filled with turkey chili, topped with sour cream, onion and cheese.


All about this healthy Turkey Chili..

This is my all time favorite recipe when it comes to chili. I love the ease of my 20 minute Texas Chili, but I think I love the combination of flavors and textures in this chili even more.

It’s the same recipe that I use in my Easy Chili Recipe, except in that version I use ground beef. It’s the same recipe, except here, we’re using ground Turkey to make it lighter!

Ingredients Needed:

Ingredients needed to make turkey chili laid out on the counter.

Notes on some ingredients:

  • Ground Turkey: this can be substituted for ground chicken or beef if needed.
  • Green chiles: these add a very mild flavor. If you would prefer more heat in your chili you can use a jalapeno instead.
  • Black beans & kidney beans: canned beans work great in this recipe. You can always swap out the beans for another kind if you would prefer.

How to make (step-by-step)

How to make turkey chili, dutch oven showing ground turkey and onion cooked, then additional ingredients being added.

On the Stovetop:

  • Step 1: Add the meat to a large pot or dutch oven. As the turkey is cooking, add the chopped onion to cook also. Once the meat is cooked and the onion is softened, drain any excess moisture. Add the garlic and allow it to cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Step 2: Add all the other ingredients. Bring the chili to a simmer and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes. Serve and top with all your favorite toppings!
How to make turkey chili in a slow cooker, cooking the meat in the skillet, then adding the ingredients to the slow cooker.

In the slow cooker:

  1. Step 1: Cook the meat: even though this is a slow cooker recipe we want to cook the meat first in a skillet. Along with the onions to soften them. Then we can add that to the slow cooker.
  2. Step 2: Add all other ingredients to the slow cooker. Then we can let this cook together for the rest of the day.

Expert Tips:

  • Cut the sugar: You can leave out the brown sugar if desired, to cut out sugars of course. I do like adding the sugar because it helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Another option would be to use honey instead, or substitute with a coconut sugar. 
  • Sneak in some Vegetables: add in some additional veggies if you want! Some great options are corn, peppers, diced zucchini, diced sweet potato, or butternut squash. If adding in fresh veggies, add them in the last 30 minutes of cooking in the slow cooker, that way they don’t get too mushy. 
Pot filled with cooked turkey chili, topped with shredded cheese and sour cream.


Can I substitute ground beef or another meat for Turkey?

Yes, absolutely. You can substitute the turkey for a ground beef, pork, or chicken.

Can I use leftover chopped turkey?

Yes! In this case the meat would already be cooked, so you would just need to sauté the onion and start from there. Add the shredded or cubed meat in with all the other remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

Favorite topping ideas:

One of the best parts about any chili recipe is being able to customize with your favorite toppings! When serving a large pot of chili for dinner for the family, or if you’re expecting company, creating a topping bar is a great idea. This way everyone can top their bowl with what they enjoy. Some ideas are:

  • Cheese: of course, shredded cheese is a must when having chili! Some mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, pepperjack, or Monterey Jack are all great options. 
  • Sour Cream/Greek Yogurt: the cold creamy tang of either of these options contrasts with the warm heat of the chili and is typically welcomed! 
  • Onions: chop up some white onion or slice some green onion to go on top for a fresh flavor. 
  • Cilantro: always a win with Tex Mex lovers. 
  • Chips: some fresh homemade tortilla chips, or Fritos pair perfectly with this thick chili. 
  • Tortillas: I personally love having a fresh stack of flour tortillas with my chili. 
  • Avocado: another creamy option that helps take off some of the heat of the chili 
  • Hot sauce: for those that need even more heat! 
Up close look at turkey chili, showing chunks of ground turkey and beans

Serve this chili with:

More Chili and Soup Recipes:

Award Winning Turkey Chili

4.98 from 734 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 6 hours 25 minutes
Total: 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 5
Author: Serene
This healthy turkey chili recipe is thick and hearty and bursting with flavor. Loaded with lean ground turkey, tender beans and the perfect spice blend.
Serving of turkey chili in a white bowl.


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion diced
  • 1 (15 ounce can) tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce can) diced tomato
  • 1 (7 ounce can) diced green chiles
  • 1 (15 ounce can) kidney beans drained, rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce can) black beans drained, rinsed
  • 1-2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar


  • sour cream
  • cheese shredded
  • green onion sliced


Slow Cooker

  • Add the lean ground turkey, and onion to a medium size skillet. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft and the turkey is completely cooked. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  • Remove from heat and add to the crockpot.
  • Add in all the other ingredients, stir to combine. Cook over low heat for 4-6 hours.


  • Add the meat to a large pot or dutch oven. As the turkey is cooking, add the chopped onion to cook and soften.
  • Once the meat is cooked and the onion is softened, drain any excess moistureAdd the garlic and allow it to cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add all the other ingredients. Bring the chili to a simmer and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes. Serve and top with all your favorite toppings!



Chili Powder: Start with 1 tbsp and add more to taste. 
  • How to Freeze this turkey chili: let the chili cool to room temperature. Add to a freezer safe container. Store in the freezer for 3-4 months. To reheat, thaw the chili in the refrigerator overnight, pour into a large pot and heat over medium heat for 20 minutes, until warmed through. 
  • Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. 


Serving: 1 | Calories: 119kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 364mg | Potassium: 259mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 995IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

Recipe first posted November 21, 2014. Updated on February 27 with new photos and video. Recipe is unchanged, but instructions for stovetop were added.

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Welcome to the House of Yumm!! My name is Serene. I’m the food photographer, recipe developer, and official taste tester around these parts.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This recipe comes together so quickly on the stove. I was worried about the flavors not melding well without the low-and-slow crockpot but was pleasantly surprised! I omitted the brown sugar completely as i wanted to avoid any hint if sweetness. This chili is hearty, delicious and to my diets delight, didn’t need any extra toppings which I typically add on to most chilis. Can’t wait to make again!

  2. I quadrupled the batch but only tripled the beans and chilies, and I use fire roasted diced tomatoes and don’t add the salt.  It was delicious!
    I portion out and freeze remainder for quick ready to go meals when everyone comes in from a day of skiing or other activities.  Always a big hit!

  3. Wow this recipe is spectacular! I’m saving it for future use. I made the stovetop version and was very pleased with it. I added corn, celery, and orange bell peppers, only because I had these on hand and didn’t want them to go to waste. 

    1. I forgot to add that I added a spoonful of Greek yogurt and some fresh cilantro. Highly recommend for extra texture and flavor. 

    1. Best turkey chili ever! Have made it 3 times now in slow cooker – first was exactly following recipe. Second time I reduced sugar and used hatch chili powder-definitely had more kick to spice level. This time I used a medium hot chili powder blend from a Fort Worth spice shop- also fantastic. Regardless of how you adjust the heat level, this recipe is YUMM! 

  4. I’ve never been big on Chili but this is delish! I follow the recipe exactly and serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream and a side of corn bread. Love the left overs. It’s easy to make, freezes well and even my husband likes it. This is a keeper for us!

  5. Easy to make and delicious! I used a mixed bean medley (pinto, black & kidney) and it was perfect. Agree with the McCormick chili powder being on the low end of spicy and I also used mild chilis. I love spice but not everyone in the family does – so this gave it just a slight spice. Thanks!

  6. This recipe is perfect for a quick weekday dinner. We made it on the stove top and it was so tasty. Next time I want to try the slow cooker version, I bet it would be even better. I added a few things to the recipe, I added a shredded  carrot and half a green bell pepper in the beginning while sautéing the turkey and onion. Also, once everything was added it looked a bit dry so I added 1 cup of chicken broth and fresh corn. I covered it with a lid once it started to boil and let it simmer for 30 minutes. It was a little too watery when we opened the lid but it reduced within minutes to a perfect consistency.. We ate it with lime and sour cream. AMAZING. So easy, way better than my usual recipe that requires more time and more ingredients. Saving time and money. WIN WIN. 

  7. Absolutely delicious!! I used brown coconut sugar instead of regular sugar. This is our go to chili recipe. Yum!!