Monday, April 5, 2010

Make It Cheap Monday - Secret Ingredient Turkey Chili

1 pan + 20 minutes = super easy, yet tasty, dinner!

I love this chili b/c it's a healthy comfort food that's so full of flavor you don't have the slightest idea how low-fat it really is; making it excellent for the waistline and heart. :)

And it let me test out my new cast-iron skillet so I was a pretty happy girl.

Chop up half of a green bell pepper.

Start browning 1 lb. of ground turkey in a large saute pan, stock pan or cast iron skillet (yay!).

Healthy Tip: Ground turkey is about 99% fat free so by just switching from beef to turkey we're already cutting wayyy back on the calories/fat intake. Try making the same substitution in recipes like meatloaf, burgers, etc. The change is nice and subtle.

While the turkey is browning, chop up an onion and mince four cloves of garlic.

Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic all to the browned meat. Saute over medium heat for about two minutes; adding a touch of salt and pepper.

Now empty an entire can of northern beans and one of red beans, juices and all, into the skillet. The starchy liquid/water that the beans are canned in will help the chili thicken up as it cooks.

Now add green chilis, tomato paste, ground cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder and cumin. 

Oh AND our three secret ingredients: 8 oz. of beer, 1/4 tsp. cocoa powder and a tiny pinch of cinnamon. 

Healthy Tip #2: The beer is replacing chicken stock but if you want to go even healthier, try using a light beer or even water. I've done both and it turns out fantastic either way!   

Allow the chili to come to a low boil, maintaining that for at least 5 minutes so all the flavors can really come out.

And now you're ready to serve it up!

Healthy Tip #3 If you want to sneak some veggies in there, add 3/4 c. frozen corn and 1/2 c. grated carrot in when you add the beans. You'll likely need to add a little more beer/water if you go that route. 

Secret Ingredient Turkey Chili  (Printable Recipe)
Serves 4-6

1 lb. ground turkey (1.79)
1/2 bell pepper, chopped (0.50)
1 medium onion, chopped (0.40)
4 cloves garlic (0.08)
1 can northern beans (0.68)
1 can red beans (0.68)
4 oz. can of diced green chilis (0.89)
3 oz. tomato paste (0.30)
8 oz. beer or water (0.00-0.75)
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (0.02)
1/2 tsp. paprika (0.04)
2 tsp. chili powder (0.12)
1 tsp. cumin (0.10)
1/4 tsp. cocoa powder (0.10)
Pinch cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Total cost: 5.45-6.45

In a large pan, brown turkey. Meanwhile, chop bell pepper, onion and garlic. When the turkey is browned, add in bell pepper, onion and garlic. Pour entire contents of both cans of beans into the pan along with green chilis, tomato paste, beer/water and spices. Season with salt and pepper to suit your tastes. Bring the mixture to a low boil, maintaining it for five minutes. Lower the heat and allow the chili to simmer until you're ready to serve.



  1. I have found that some turkey is healthier than others. Some brands use breast meat, other ones use thighs and some inexpensive ones use a lot of added fat, so always read the labels. I found one that had as much fat as ground beef! It got me to start reading labels more closely.

  2. Your Turkey Chili looks great. I think I'll give it a try. I love the 3 secret ingredients!

    (I found your site @ $5 Dinners!)

  3. I just wanted to let you know...I made the chili tonight! It was FAB. I loved it and so did the fam. thanks for the great will be a regular at our home!

  4. Vicki, I'm thrilled to hear that your family loved the chili!


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