One-pot Smoky Turkey Chili

There are a number of reasons why I like this turkey chili recipe. It freezes beautifully, can be made ahead (even tastes better the next day), is relatively healthy, and easily serves a crowd. Since it's one of the first dishes I cooked regularly, the ratios and ingredients have gone through several adjustments over the years. Rob mentioned that the most recent iteration is especially delicious so I figured it was time to put turkey chili up on the blog.

In terms of ingredients, I highly recommend ordering some smoked tomatoes, chipotles, and garlic from Windrose Farms. The smokiness isn't overwhelming which makes them truly versatile ingredients. Not only is the flavor dynamite, but you'll be supporting some super sweet farmers here in California.


Immersion blenders are excellent kitchen tools. I use mine for marinara, soup, pizza sauce, and more. It's so much easier to clean than a food processor and does the same job in many instances. Long story short, my boat motor has served me well. The immersion blender I have is here, but I've never actually used the accessories so I linked to the less expensive version above. Chef's discretion.



  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground white turkey meat
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed, small/medium chop
  • 2 medium green bell pepper or Anaheim chiles, seeds and ribs removed, small/medium chop
  • 1 large yellow onion, small chop
  • 1 small head smoked garlic, cloves minced or pressed
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp of oregano
  • Heaping 1/2 cup smoked tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 smoked chipotles, stems removed and chopped Note: If you want a milder chili from a spicy standpoint, leave these out.
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes with the juice
  • 14 oz fresh tomatoes, cored and diced Note: Make sure to keep all the juice from the tomatoes. Also, a 14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes can be substituted if necessary.
  • 15 oz can of kidney beans Note: Freshly cooked beans are preferable if time allows.
  • 15 oz can of cannellini beans Note: Freshly cooked beans are preferable if time allows.
  • 25-30 oz of Newcastle beer (or similar nut brown ale) Note: Since the amount of liquids in fresh tomatoes can vary, sometimes I add a little more beer depending on how thick the chili is. There's no harm in adjusting as the chili simmers.
  • 1 tsp flake-style salt
  • 10 cranks of pepper
  • Flake-style salt and freshly ground pepper, for adjustments
  • 1 - 2tsp sugar (optional and to taste) Note: A touch of sugar can take the edge off any "bite" that you might be picking up from the tomatoes or dried pepper skins. At the very end, add a teaspoon and see what you think. I haven't had to exceed about 1 1/2tsp of sugar.


  • Sourdough bowls or sourdough garlic toast
  • Cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • Light sour cream (you really don't need the heavy stuff for this)
  • Avocado, diced
  • Red onion, diced

Avocados at Shanley Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market

Recipe Tip

The puree step is important and should not be skipped as it's the flavor foundation for the chili. If you don't have an immersion blender, a food processor or regular blender should work fine.


Dried Ancho Chiles

  • In a microwave-safe bowl, heat some water (enough to cover the ancho chiles) until it's almost boiling. Add the dried peppers, cover with plastic, and set on the counter for 30 minutes.
  • Once softened, removed the stem and seeds, chop small, and set aside.


  • In a Dutch oven or similar pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  • Cook the turkey until no longer pink, breaking it up into smaller pieces.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and stir until fragrant (about a minute).
  • Transfer the turkey to a plate and set aside. Note: There's no need to clean the pan since the brown bits will add flavor.
  • Add an additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then sauté the red and green bell peppers until slightly tender and starting to brown. Transfer to the plate with the cooked turkey.
  • Add the last 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then sauté the onion until translucent and starting to brown. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper while cooking. Remove half and add to the reserved bell peppers and turkey.
  • Deglaze the pan by turning the heat up to high and immediately adding 2 tablespoons of filtered water or 2 tablespoons of reserved bean water (if you're cooking the beans). Scrape up any fond and swirl the onions around so they're coated in all the delicious liquid and bits. Do this for about 30 seconds then bring the heat back down.
  • To the sautéed onions, add the softened ancho chiles, smoked chipotles, smoked tomatoes, fresh/canned tomatoes, 1/2 of the kidney beans, and 1/2 of the cannellini beans. Note: You should not soak the smoked peppers or tomatoes.
  • Puree the mixture, then cover and simmer for 7 minutes. Puree one additional time.


  • Add the turkey, bell peppers, onions, and beer to the pureed base and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Note: Cover the pot while simmering if the chili is thick enough or simmer uncovered to reduce the liquids to your liking.
  • Add the beans in the last 5 minutes so as to avoid overcooking.
  • Adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Refrigerate overnight so that the flavors can meld, or freeze.


  • If frozen, transfer the chili to the refrigerator the day before you want to eat it. Defrosting in the microwave works in a pinch.
  • Once refrigerated and defrosted, remove the chili and let it stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Put the chili in a Dutch oven or similar pot, cover, and cook over low heat until warmed through. Stir occasionally.


  • Sourdough Bowl: If using a sourdough bowl, move your oven rack to the middle position and heat to 425. Cut the top off of the loaf, scoop out the bread (freeze for stuffing or bread crumbs), and then bake the sourdough bowl until it's lightly toasted. Ladle the chili directly into the bread bowl.
  • Garlic Toast: If making garlic toast, move your oven rack to the middle position and turn the broiler on high. Mix a few tablespoons of softened butter with about 1/2 tsp of minced or pressed garlic (this is a loose recipe). Spread the mixture on your bread, then top with freshly grated parmesan and pepper. Bake for 3-4 minutes. The toast will go from brown to burned pretty quickly so keep an eye on it.
  • Top the chili with cheese, red onion, avocado, and a dollop of sour cream.


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