Tom’s Turkey Chili

Chili comes in many exotic forms, with every conceivable type of meat at its core. My wife Carole has long made a wonderfully simple turkey chili. And skiers savor Deer Valley Resort’s famous turkey chili. It’s a hearty meal often topped with grated cheeses, sour cream and more. But my challenge in presenting a cooking class to athletes of the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding was to be a bit more healthful. So, with a little research and tweaking, I came up with this version of a traditional Food Network recipe to create a healthy, yet hearty, turkey chili. And, it’s extremely simple to make.

I love smoky foods and Tom’s Turkey Chili fills that bill, using chipotle chile in adobo sauce. But the key to making this a healthful recipe is in how you shop. The main objective is to keep the sodium down plus resisting the urge to add fatty toppings, like cheese, sour cream, and deep fried chips. When shopping, look at the cans – especially when selecting beans and tomatoes. And, just because it’s turkey doesn’t mean it’s fat-free. Select something like a 7% fat content turkey rather than 15%. Jennie-O has some nice 20 oz. packages in 7%, or even 1% if you want to really lean it out.

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Serves 4-6

Chili Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder, preferably Penzey’s Chili 3000
  • 1 teaspoon red chipotle chili powder, preferably Penzey’s
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle chile en adobo, coarsely chopped, with 1 tablespoon sauce
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably around 7% fat content (you can go a little bigger with the 20 oz. Jennie-O packages, if you like)
  • 1 12-ounce bottle Mexican lager-style or other beer, I prefer Dos Equis Amber
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced peeled tomatoes, with their juice (preferably low sodium)
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can kidney or white beans, rinsed and drained, preferably low sodium


  • Sliced scallions (green onions)
  • Chipped fresh cilantro
  • Whole wheat tortilla strips (cut tortillas into strips and place on baking sheet; spray with canola oil and bake until crisp, about 4-6 minutes)


  • Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, salt, chili powder, and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and the chipotle chile and sauce; cook 1 minute more.
  • Add the turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until the meat loses its raw color, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the beer and simmer until reduced by about half, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, along with their juices, and the beans; bring to a boil.
  • Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 10 minutes.
  • Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with the garnishes of your choice.

3 replies on “Tom’s Turkey Chili”

[…] I had the honor today of being a guest chef for the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding’s monthly Olympic athlete cooking demo at the USSA Center of Excellence in Park City. I joined noted USOC chef Adam Korzun and USOC dietician Susie Parker-Simmons for a fabulous session cooking soups and chilis. These sessions the last few months have been very popular with athletes who want to learn more about cooking and doing it from a healthy perspective for their respective sport. Adam cooked up some great chicken stock, then had the athletes use it to make a chicken soup, butternut squash with curry soup and a potato soup. I made my cooking debut with a great new smoky chipotle turkey chili. […]

I made this chili tonight. It was awesome. Thanks Tom. My only change was to add corn. It warmed up the cold colorado night.