This super easy kid-friendly chili with ground turkey is an easy staple weeknight meal that cooks in 30 minutes. This chili is hearty, packed full of tomato, beans, and veggies in every spoonful. Mild enough for picky eater, this chili is so cozy and delicious!
Super quick for any night of the week! This easy turkey chili recipe is lean and delicious, especially for a cold night.
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This award-winning turkey chili recipe that has won several family cookoffs, is kid-friendly and is definitely a family favorite dinner recipe. The leftovers can also be reinvented into so many different meals with just a few simple additions, and the recipe is also very freezer and meal-prep friendly.
A Healthy Ground Turkey Kid-Friendly Chili Recipe The Family Will Love
I’ve been cooking healthy ground turkey chili for so long, I really don’t measure the spices anymore. It’s become one of those delicious weeknight meals that you can simply throw your ingredients in the pot, cook it for a short time and have dinner on the table. Sure some chilis cook low and slow for a long time, but chili can be quick too and still tastes equally delicious.
I think I’ve made this recipe at least five billion times, and it’s very adaptable to what you happen to have on hand. This recipe is filling, and also great for lunchboxes the next day. Simply heat up a thermos and fill it full of warm chili. Perfect for cold days when you just want to warm up a bit.
Ingredients needed for ground turkey chili
I know when I’m making a recipe it helps to know I have everything I need! Here are the basic ingredients for this simple turkey chili.
You can find the full recipe down at the bottom of the page in the recipe card.
- Sweet Onion
- Ground Turkey
- Chill Powder
- Ground Pepper
- Tomatoes- canned work too either diced or crushed
- Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- Kidney Beans- See below for another bean swap ideas
- Bay Leaf
How To Make The BEST Turkey Chili
- Gather ingredients– most of the ingredients in this chili give it flavor
- Soften vegetables– Soften the onion and celery in the pot with a little water
- Brown turkey and add broth– Brown the ground turkey in the pan with all the herbs and spices. Then add the broth, tomatoes, and beans then bring to a boil. Cook covered on medium to meld the flavors together.
- Taste and enjoy– Taste to make sure the heat and salt levels are right for you. If needed add a little more at a time of salt, pepper, or even a pinch of cayenne until the chili is how you prefer.
Cozy Up With More Easy And Delicious Soups
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Tomato Soup– Family Favorite!! If your family likes pasta, you have to try this one.
- Mama’s Magic Chicken Noodle Soup – A superfast soup to warm up for lunch or dinner.
- Creamy Potato Soup With Ham And Peas– A great soup for leftover ham, comfort food in a bowl and packed with veggies.
What should I serve this turkey chili with?
On top of the chili
We’ve served all of these combinations on top of our chili at home!
- Shredded cheese- cheddar is great, or monetary jack is a favorite too!
- Diced avocado or a scoop of guacamole
- Sour cream
- Diced green onions
- Fresh parsley
- Cornbread Muffins– this is my family’s favorite side, or make a whole pan of tender and fluffy buttermilk cornbread.
- Baked Potato or Sweet Potato– We often do this when we have chili leftovers
- Taco Salad– Pour a ladel full over greens, then add some of the toppings from above. Black olives, cilantro and diced sweet onion are also delicious over these nachos,
- Over pasta– This makes it more Cinnicanti style for all of my Ohio friends
- Tortilla or Corn Chips– perfect for dipping, or sometimes I’ll use the little bits at the bottom of the bag for a great crunchy garnish. Leftovers are also pretty tasty over nachos.
My Homemade Chili turned out too spicy for me, how can I fix it?
My favorite trick when any homemade chili or soup is too spicy is to throw in a small potato or two and let it cook until soft. You can chop the potato up into a few large pieces or simply toss in a whole potato.
Not only does this make the chili less spicy fast, but you also then have a delicious potato to have as a side or the next day that isn’t spicy either. The potato always seems to soak up just enough of the heat.
This Turkey Chili is not spicy enough for me, how do I make it spicier?
Throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes into your bowl of ground turkey chili for an extra kick without making the whole pot spicy.
My kid is a picky eater and my husband has a bit of acid reflux, so my bowl is always a bit spicier then I make for them.
What veggies go in chili?
I add celery, onion and kidney beans to my healthy turkey chili but you can definitely bulk up with more veggies. Here are a few ideas-
- Black beans
- White kidney beans
- Diced bell pepper
- Green chilis- I sometimes will throw a 4 ounce can of diced green chilis into this recipe. Watch the labels carefully, they are available in mild and hot!
- Corn- Frozen works fine if you add it after you brown the meat, I like roasted corn ( I usually find this at Trader Joe’s)
- Riced cauliflower- My family doesn’t even notice it’s there usually! Start out with about 1/2 a cup if it’s your first time adding riced cauliflower, but I’ve used up to a cup in this recipe. Frozen works just fine, add it after you brown the meat.
Shortcut tips to make this easy turkey chili recipe faster
You can substitute a few tablespoons of taco seasoning for most of the spices in this recipe and it still comes out delicious. I’ve done this when I’m pinched for time, plus then added a little chili powder or smoked paprika for heat.
This is a great shortcut and isn’t quite the same flavor mix but it is delicious!
Why do some turkey chilis batches come out bland?
The important thing when making a turkey chili is to include enough herbs and spices. I know when you’re thinking about making a kid-friendly chili, many people go easy on the spices. The trick though is to use more of spices like oregano, paprika, cumin or even parsley. You want to add more of the spices that have a lot of flavor, but aren’t too spicy.
Because the meat is leaner without as much fat, you need the flavors of the herbs to bring out more flavor than if your chili is made from ground beef or ground pork.
Taste the chili at the end of cooking, and don’t be afraid to add a little more spices or herbs to your batch a little at a time for your own taste.
Do I put vinegar in homemade turkey chili, I heard that’s a thing?
Yes, you can put a tablespoon of vinegar in chili to give it a zing. I prefer balsamic and I recommend only adding a teaspoon or two at a time in the end.
Add a little at a time and taste as you go to make sure it is enough. Sometimes I’ll add a squeeze of lime juice at the end to give it a little more zing.
Can I make this kid-friendly turkey chili without beans?
Sure, but if you are leaving out the beans on this recipe I would add something in its place like more browned ground turkey, more sauteed onion, and celery.
I would also start with only one cup of the chicken broth to make sure it wasn’t too liquidy and add more as needed to get the right consistency.
Recipe Substitution Ideas For Turkey Chili
Meat Substitution And Swaps
You can substitute other types of meat in this recipe. Lean ground beef, pork or a combination of different ground meats is also delicious.
If you use meat with a higher fat content (like pork or beef,) you may want to drain the fat after you brown the meat before continuing or the chili may be too greasy.
Precooked And Leftover Meat Shortcuts
You can also use leftover pieces of turkey, like from Thanksgiving or rotisserie chicken. If the meat is already cooked, you can skip browning it in the pan.
You can also leave the meat out of this recipe. I highly recommend adding a full can or two of extra beans if you choose to make a vegetarian chili.
Bean Substitution Ideas
I used kidney beans in this recipe, but many other types of beans can swap in and out of this chili recipe cup for cup. Here are a few ideas:
- Light, Dark or White Kidney beans
- Cannellini Beans
- Black Beans
- Great Northern Beans- These tend to have a softer overall texture after cooked
Other Substitution Ideas For A Kid-Friendly Chili
- You can also add frozen or drained canned corn to this recipe.
- Sometimes I also add about 2 ounces of mild roasted green chilis.
- I also sometimes add a cup to a cup and a half of frozen riced cauliflower to the pot, and my family really hasn’t noticed.
Try this Quick-Roasted Chicken Apple Sausage and Veggies for another fast dinner
How Do I Make This Turkey Chili In The Slow Cooker?
This turkey chili can easily be made in the slow cooker. Start following the recipe as it is on the stovetop to sautee the onions, celery and brown and flavor the turkey with spices. Then put the meat and vegetable mixture in the slow cooker. Add all the rest of the ingredients like the diced tomatoes and the beans to the slow cooker, then cook on high for at least four hours or on low for at least six hours.
Chili is a dish that becomes more flavorful the longer you cook it. You can cook this chili for up to about 8 hours on low, but after that, I recommend switching it to keep warm. This is handy if you know you will be away from the house for a while.
Can You Prep Chili The Night Before in A Crockpot?
I have also prepped this chili the night before in my crockpot and it turns out great.
First brown the meat and cook the vegetables in a pan on the stove as the recipe instructs. Then place all the ingredients in the inner crockpot/ slow cooker including the meat, vegetables, beans, and diced tomatoes, then place covered in the fridge. The next day, pull the chili out of the fridge and start the slow cooker.
Can I freeze leftover Turkey Chili?
Leftover turkey chili freezes really easily, just put in a freezer friendly container. When you’re ready to reheat, simply run the container under a little hot water to release it, then add to the pan to reheat.
You can portion turkey chili in muffin tins, then pop them out and save in the freezer for easy single-serve portions. Two to three muffin tins of chili make a quick bowl of turkey chili and one or two works over a salad or potato!
Healthy Ground Turkey Chili
- Pan spray or 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Large pot with a lid
- Wooden spatula
- 3 ribs Celery Diced
- 1 medium Sweet Onion Diced
- ¼ Cup Water
- 1 Pound Ground Turkey
- 2 teaspoons Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Chill Powder
- 1 tablespoon Oregano
- 2 tablespoons Parsley
- 1 teaspoon Salt I start with a teaspoon and taste, adding more if necessary
- 1 teaspoon Ground Pepper I start with a teaspoon and taste, adding more if necessary
- 4 Cups Tomatoes Diced including any juices, Also equal to 2 cans that are 14.5 ounces each
- 2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 5 1/4 Cups Kidney Beans Also equal 3 cans that are 16 ounces each
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Dice sweet onion and celery into bite sized pieces.
- Heat up a large pot on medium-high heat Add a little pan spray or olive oil, then add the celery and onion. Sautee for 1-3 minutes, then add water and cook another 2-3 minutes until vegetables are soft.
- Add the ground turkey to the pan. Break up turkey with a wooden spatula. Add cumin, paprkia, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Continue sauteeing the ground turkey for 5-7 minutes or until turkey is cooked through all the way and has no pink.
- Add the tomatoes, broth, beans and bay leaf to the pot. Turn the temperature on the stove up to high and bring the pot to a rolling boil on high. Once the entire surface of the chili is bubbling, cover the pot with a lid and turn down the heat to medium.
- Allow the pot to cook for 20-30 minutes or until everything is bubbly, hot and delicious. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Garnish with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
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Did you make this healthy ground turkey chili for your family? Make sure to rate this recipe in the comments or tag me on Instagram @onmykidsplate I love hearing your variations too!
*This post has been updated with more information and new images as of October 2020.