Cincinnati Chili

Rich with spices, including cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, this recipe from JBF America's Classics Award–winning Camp Washington Chili has a deep, beefy flavor and a nice kick. It’ll be thicker and tastier if cooked a day ahead of time, chilled overnight, and then reheated before serving. To serve it “five-way”—the most popular order at the restaurant—ladle the chili over a bed of spaghetti and top with red kidney beans, diced white onions, and a heaping mound of shredded Wisconsin cheddar cheese. 


1 tablespoon hot chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 yellow onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
6 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon coarse salt, or more to taste
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 beef bouillon cubes, or ¼ cup beef demi-glace


In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, dry mustard, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Sauté the onions and garlic until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the spice mixture and salt and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beef and stir thoroughly to combine. Continue stirring until the beef is lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Add the bouillon cubes and stir.

Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, until the chili is very thick and fragrant. Season with additional salt and spices if desired.


Our America's Classics cookbook, James Beard’s All-American Eats: Recipes and Stories from Our Best-Loved Local Restaurants, makes the perfect gift.​ Order a copy today!


6 to 8 servings