I give you comfort food that is quick, easy, and healthy – this Homemade Healthy Chili Recipe with Turkey is the perfect, hearty dish that you don’t have to feel guilty about. A cozy dish of “comfort” to warm you up on these chilly winter evenings. It’s full of flavor and rich in texture. Throw in a pan of homemade sweet cornbread and you’ll be in “chili” heaven.
If you’re looking for a simple weeknight idea that can get you in and out of the kitchen in thirty minutes with minimal clean-up, this one-pot (from start to finish) recipe gives you everything you could ask for. Simmering will take longer but it’s a great time to grab a glass of wine, put your feet up and enjoy a “moment.” They don’t seem to come that often.
Step by Step Instructions for this Recipe:
Sauté the Onions and Jalepaños
I like both red onions and sweet onions in this recipe. Red onions are pungent and somewhat spicy which brings a nice addition to the chili. While the sweet onions are sweeter than regular yellow onions. Both of these together complement each other.Depending on your family’s “heat” preference, you can add or not add sliced jalapeños to this Healthy Chili Recipe. This recipe is probably a “medium” heat. I used three larger size jalapeños. You can obviously adjust to what fits your desire. I kept the ribs and the seeds when I sliced them, which added extra heat to the dish.
- A misconception about jalapeños is the seeds carry the heat. But in truth, it’s the ribs. The ribs contain capsaicin which gives the peppers their spiciness. Because the seeds are connected to the ribs, seeds can also be coated with capsaicin oil. Either way, if you add these along with the jalapeños, you will definitely add heat.
- A word of caution. Use gloves when you handle the jalapeños. They can really burn your skin if not careful, especially if you’re handling a bunch of them as I did with these Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers.
I first started with sauteéing these three ingredients. Use a large heavy bottom pan (Dutch Oven works great) heat the pan over medium heat, coat the bottom of the pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and add the onions and jalapeños. It will take 10-12 minutes over medium heat until softened.
Once the onions and jalapeños are tender add in the chopped garlic and let it cook for just about one minute. I forgot to add them when I was making this batch so I threw them in after the ground turkey was done. They ended up cooking down while the chili simmered so it worked out all right.
- It’s best to season with salt and pepper in layers while cooking. This way it counteracts a dish ending up being bland. I sprinkled in about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper with the onions and peppers.
Cook the Ground Turkey
I removed the onions and jalapeños before I started cooking the turkey. You can brown the ground turkey first but I really like the flavors of the onions and jalapeños from the pan incorporated into the meat itself. Neither way is right or wrong in my estimation.
Turn the heat to medium and use a spatula or a wooden spoon to break up the clumps and cook for 3-5 minutes until the meat is no longer pink.
- Remember to season again with salt and pepper. A rule of thumb for salting ground turkey is 3/4 to 1 teaspoon per one pound of meat.
Before the spices are added in the next step, pour in 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and stir well to get up all the bits and pieces that stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- I always choose stock over broth. It has tons more flavor and is a thicker, richer liquid.
Adding the Flavor: spices, herbs, chipotle peppers & tomato paste
Turkey itself can be pretty boring, pretty bland. Salt and pepper alone, in my opinion, does not fully correct the issue. That’s where all of these added flavors contribute to the complexity of this chili. Cumin and Coriander add a warm, nutty and spicy aspect to the dish. My all-time favorite spice is smoked paprika which gives a smoky attitude.
The “kick” comes from both the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and the chili powder itself. All of this is subject to your own tastes and preferences.
- My recommendation would be to start out with small quantities of both of these ingredients and taste as you go.
The last ingredient before pouring in the crushed tomatoes is tomato paste. This is a thick tomato concentrate and infuses the sauce with a rich zesty flavor that complements the meat and the beans.
Adding Crushed Tomatoes
The ratio of meat, beans, and tomatoes is important to this healthy chili recipe. You don’t want to have an overbearing tomato base. I used 3-14 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes which ended up being a nice blend with the other ingredients.
If you like a chunkier tomato base, then by all means go with diced or petite diced tomatoes.
Adding the beans
In my healthy chili recipe, I want beans that hold up under the pressure of everything else. Dark Red Kidney beans do just that. Their texture is hearty and meaty. They hold their shape well and absorbs all the flavors of the chili. And I’m a big fan of black beans, so that’s my additional bean of choice here.
But you could use pinto beans, great northern beans, or navy beans. I think you need at least two types of beans for added texture. I’m definitely a “texture” girl. Go with the kidney beans for sure and another of your choice.
Simmering this Chili Recipe
The longer the chili simmers, the more the flavors will be drawn out. It’s like a fine wine, it gets better with age. At least give it an hour to simmer. If you can leave it all day, the taste will have even more depth and intensity. And believe me, this chili is fantastic the next day as leftovers. And what a bonus, since it makes a huge pot, you’ll have plenty of extras.
What to serve with it
The beauty of this pot of deliciousness is how hearty and complex it is making it worthy to be a stand-alone dish. If you want to spruce it up even more though, throw on some sweet cornbread and serve alongside it. The sweetness of the bread is the absolute perfect companion.
What to Garnish with it
My favorite garnish for chili is a tangy dollop of sour cream, some shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and extra sliced fresh jalapeños. But you can add avocados, diced fresh tomatoes, tortilla strips, corn chips, etc.
Can you Freeze Homemade Chili?
Absolutely. Wait until it cools completely and spoon into freezer plastic bags or other freezer-type containers. It will store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When ready to reheat, take it out of the freezer and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Pour it into a large saucepan and slowly reheat while stirring regularly. Or if you’re short on time, run hot water over the frozen package until it loosens from the sides of the ziplock bag. Place the frozen block into a large microwave-safe bowl and heat over medium-low heat until fully reheated.
If you’re looking for more one-pot comfort food meals, check these out:
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Homemade Healthy Chili Recipe
Comfort food that is quick, easy, and healthy – this Homemade Healthy Chili with Turkey is the perfect, hearty dish that you don’t have to feel guilty about. A cozy dish of “comfort” that is full of flavor and rich in texture. Throw in a pan of homemade sweet cornbread and you’ll be in “chili” heaven.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- Category: Chili
- Method: Stove-top
- Cuisine: American
- 2 tablespoons Avocado Oil
- One large Red Onion, chopped
- One Large Sweet Onion, chopped
- 3 large Jalapeno Pepper, sliced
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 6 large Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
- 2 pounds Lean Ground Turkey
- 3 heaping tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
- 2 Adobo Chipotle Peppers with 1 tablespoon of Sauce
- 2 tablespoons ground Cumin
- 2 tablespoons ground Coriander
- 2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
- 3 – 14 ounce cans of Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 cans Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
- Heat a large heavy bottom pan (a Dutch oven works great) over medium-high heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat until shimmering.
- Add 1 large chopped red onion, 1 large chopped sweet onion, and 3 large sliced jalapeños.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook the onions and peppers until tender, about 10-12 minutes while stirring often.
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add 6 large chopped garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove the cooked vegetables from the pan and set aside.
- Cook 2 pounds a lean ground turkey over medium heat until no longer pink. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the vegetables back into the pan with the meat.
- Add 3 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock stirring well and scraping all the browned bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan.
- Add 2 adobo chipotle peppers (from the can) with 1 tablespoon of sauce, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 2 tablespoons ground coriander, 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon dried oregano.
- Add 3 – 14 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, 2 cans each of dark red kidney and black beans along with 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
- Stir everything together and let simmer for at least one hour.
- Garnish with sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and slices of fresh jalapeños. (optional)
- Depending on your family’s “heat” preference, you can add or not add sliced jalapeños. This recipe is probably a “medium” heat. I used three larger size jalapeños. I kept the ribs and the seeds when I sliced them, which added extra heat to the dish.
- A misconception about jalapeños is the seeds carry the heat. But in truth, it’s the ribs. The ribs contain capsaicin which gives the peppers their spiciness. Because the seeds are connected to the ribs, seeds can also be coated with the capsaicin oil.
- A word of caution. Use gloves when you handle the jalapeños. They can really burn your skin if not careful, especially if you’re handling a bunch of them like I did with these Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers.
- It’s best to season with salt and pepper in layers while cooking. This way it counteracts a dish ending up being bland. I sprinkled in about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper with the onions and peppers. And more when I cooked the turkey meat.
- A rule of thumb for salting ground turkey is 3/4 to 1 teaspoon per one pound of meat.
- I always choose stock over broth. It has tons more flavor and is a thicker, richer liquid.
- Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups Chili
- Calories: 262
- Sugar: 5 g
- Sodium: 466 mg
- Fat: 9 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 5 g
- Trans Fat: o g
- Carbohydrates: 25 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 21 g
- Cholesterol: 60 mg
Keywords: healthy chili recipe, healthy turkey chili, turkey chili recipe, easy turkey chili