Turkey and Red Bean Chili

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Turkey and Red Bean Chili Recipe! I am two weeks post-back surgery (click HERE for that post) and slowly getting back into the swing of things. The surgery is the easy part. The recovery, and the patience needed to let myself rest and recuperate, is harder. I am not one to sit idle so it has been a real test for me.

Yesterday I got the go-ahead to move about more and yes, even do some cooking. Of course, nothing too complicated or that would involve lifting too many heavy pots and pans.

Secret chili ingredients

I know it might seem strange, but cooking does relax me, and today, in particular, I needed that. It is a cold, rainy day, and a hearty chili felt in order. Plus my husband is happy to have a day off from the stove.

Though cocoa powder and molasses might seem better reserved for a hot steamy mug of hot chocolate or pumpkin pie, both are found in many a Mexican dish.  Both give a depth of flavor to this chili that makes it extra delicious.

I made my chili in my slow cooker so it would stay warm for tonight’s dinner and give me the chance for a long simmer.  I sautéed everything in the pot insert, on the stove, then transferred it to the slow cooker.  At the end of the cooking, I will add the spinach before serving.

chili Print
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Turkey and Red Bean Chili

  • Author: Heather Carey, MS
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: soup
  • Method: simmer


Chili goes with winter like salads go with summer. This Turkey and Red Bean Chili is hearty and warming, full of fiber and protein, so it keeps you filled longer.


Units Scale

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 teaspoon each, kosher salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 pounds ground turkey
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 28ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons molasses
2 28ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
4 large handfuls baby spinach, or 16-ounce frozen chopped spinach


  1. Heat a Dutch oven, or other heavy large soup pot, over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic with salt and pepper and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add turkey, stirring and breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Stir in chili powder, cocoa powder, and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.

3. Stir in tomatoes, molasses, and beans. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes. Add in spinach and continue simmering until wilted, about 2 minutes.

4. Check chili for seasonings (you might need more salt or pepper). Serve with desired toppings.


Really good toppings for chili include avocado, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, corn tortilla chips, hot sauce

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