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Outside of the state of Texas,
Cincinnati, Ohio, is the most chili-crazed city in the United States. Cincinnati prides
itself on being a true chili capital, with more than 180 chili parlors. Cincinnati
Chili is quite different from its more familiar Texas cousin, and it
has developed a cult-like popularity. What makes it different is the
way the meat is cooked. Cincinnati Chili has
a thinner consistency and is prepared with an unusual blend of spices that includes
cinnamon, chocolate or cocoa, allspice, and Worcestershire. this is
truly the unofficial grub of Cincinnati.
The people of Cincinnati enjoy their chili spooned over freshly made
pasta and topped with a combination of chopped onions, shredded
Cheddar cheese, refried beans or kidney beans, and crushed oyster
crackers. If you choose "the works," you are eating what they call
Five-Way Chili. Make sure to pile on the toppings - that's what sets
it apart from any other chili dish. To
test a restaurant for authenticity, ask for a Four-Way. If the
server asks you whether you want beans or onions, you know this is
fake Cincinnati chili, since Four-Way always comes with onions.
Macedonian immigrant Tom Kiradjieff created Cincinnati chili in
1922. With his brother, John, Kiradjieff opened a small Greek
restaurant called the Empress. The restaurant did poorly however,
until Kiradjieff started offering a chili made with Middle Eastern
spices, which could be served in a variety of ways. He called it his
"spaghetti chili." Kiradjieff's "five way" was a concoction of a
mound of spaghetti toped with chili, chopped onion, kidney beans,
and shredded yellow cheese, served with oyster crackers and a side
order of hot dogs topped with more shredded cheese.
Check out another delicious version of
Cincinnati Chili and more
Soups, Stews, and Chili Recipes.
Cincinnati Chili Recipe - How To Make Cincinnati Chili:
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 90 min
onion, chopped, minced
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (hamburger)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin*
1/2 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 (16-ounce) package uncooked dried
Toppings (see below)
* See comments below
on the Original Cincinatti Chili recipe by
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, sauté onion, ground beef, garlic, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly cooked.
Add allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, unsweetened cocoa or chocolate, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, and water.
Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions and transfer onto individual serving plates (small oval plates are traditional).
Learn How To Cook Pasta Properly.
Ladle Cincinnati Chili mixture over the cooked spaghetti and serve with toppings of your choice.
Oyster crackers are served in a separate container on the side.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Kidney Beans (16-ounce) can
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Cincinnati chili lovers order their chili by number. Two, Three, Four, or Five Way. Let your guest create their own final product.
Chili served on spaghetti
Additionally topped with shredded Cheddar cheese
Additionally topped with chopped onions
Additionally topped with kidney beans
Comments from readers:
I'm from Cincinnati and my Grandmother worked at the
Empress restaurant when she was young. She got the
original recipe for Cincinnati chili from the owner's
wife. When my Grandma died, my Dad gave me her recipe
box and there it was, the Original Cincinnati Chili
Recipe. The recipe you have is not quit correct, as the
original recipe does not have cumin or cocoa in it, but
had bay leaves.
Oh, and another thing, it was originally just called 3-way. That meant that it could be 'used' three
1. On hot dogs.
2. Over spaghetti. - And YES, you HAVE to put the oyster crackers on top of the spaghetti.
3. With added beans, as a bowel of chili.
Over time people changed it to mean what 'topping' they wanted on it.
I moved from Cincinnati to Florida when I was very young
and the two things I missed the most were 3-way and
White Castles. I can make the 3-way, but there's no
substitute for the real thing when it comes to White
Castles. When my Dad visits, I make him bring me a bag
of 24. -
I lived in Cincinnati all my life. I learned the
"secret" of making Cincinnati Chili. One very important
thing is - never brown the ground beef and don't put
onion in the mix. The onions are saved to put on top.
The ground beef is mixed with the ingredients plus water
and boiled for several hours. Also use tomato paste
instead of tomato sauce. Thanks for your great recipes -
Another secret for making
your Cincinnati Chili even more authentic is to put the
ground beef in a food processor and get it very finely
chopped before boiling. When finished the chili should
be a bit watery, this is where the Oyster Crackers come
in. - Paul Hoernes