Healthy Turkey Chili Recipe

Discover a delicious and nutritious twist on classic chili with our healthy turkey chili recipe that’s packed with lean protein and hearty flavors.

photo of the Best Easy Turkey Chili Recipe garnished with avocado, cheese and sour cream by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

This turkey chili recipe is healthy, flavorful, and an all-around classic. Because nothing says comfort food quite like a warm pot of soup for dinner on a cool night. 

Plus, chili is a universal favorite, with endless topping and flavor options added to your liking. And whether it’s January, February, November or December, chili is enjoyed year-round.

We know, We know. A lot of people claim their chili recipes are the best. But our recipe REALLY is the best best turkey chili recipe! Not to mention, it’s also a healthy chili since it uses turkey for a lower fat option and is packed full of healthy veggies to boot.

(Rebecca) have also included 3 ways to cook chili: in a pot on the stove, using a slow cooker, or with an Instant Pot. 

While we know that the Instant Pot is all the rage right now, We figured that we’d give you additional options in case you prefer a more traditional method that doesn’t require extra kitchen equipment. 

All in all, this turkey chili is a great recipe to fit into your busy schedule, no matter what you have going on that day!

photo of ingredients for the Best Easy Turkey Chili recipe by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

Ingredients 

Ground turkey meat

This is obviously the key ingredient for this healthy turkey chili! Because it’s a white meat, lean ground turkey is lower in fat than ground beef, which is traditionally used in chili. 

We recommend using a bit of olive oil (which is considered a healthier fat) when cooking the turkey to avoid it sticking and scorching in your pan. They also make a vegan ground turkey if you’re hosting a party with a mixed meat crowd. Or you can substitute the turkey for the traditional ground beef.

Seasonings

Salt, chili powder, and ground cumin really deliver on the flavor in this recipe. Our version of this recipe is not particularly spicy which makes it a very family-friendly option in case you’re also feeding toddlers like we are!

That said, you can definitely bump up the chili powder and cumin or add a 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper if you like a little more kick in your soup. We also love chipotle chili powder for some spice.

If you wish to use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, you’ll want to add it along with these spices.

Vegetables

We recommend getting all of your veggies chopped before you start cooking. This makes the whole process a lot smoother. Also, make sure you don’t saute them for too long, since they’ll be cooking more as the soup simmers. 

And add the garlic for just the last minute or two of the cooking time. Garlic burns easily. So only give it a little heat until it becomes aromatic and tender!

Canned tomatoes and chilis

Both tomato sauce and tomato paste can be used in chili, but they will give different results. Tomato sauce will add a more subtle tomato flavor to your chili, and it will make the chili more saucy.

On the other hand, tomato paste is thicker and more concentrated than tomato sauce. It will add a more intense tomato flavor to your chili, and it will make the chili more hearty.

If you want a more saucy chili, you can use tomato sauce. If you want a more hearty chili, you can use tomato paste. You can also mix them together to get the best of both worlds.

We used diced tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes for a chunky chili. 

Beans

We used 1 can of dark kidney beans and 1 can of light beans. However, you can substitute any kind of beans you like. Pinto beans or black beans would give your chili a nice Southwestern flair! Just make sure to drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the pot. Chili beans would also work well also.

photo of one way to cook Turkey Chili in an instant pot by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

Substituting the Turkey Chili Meat

Yes! You can substitute this for a classic beef chili if you prefer it. Honestly, this chili recipe has so much flavor that you don’t really notice the difference with the lighter meat! Keep in mind that beef is heartier and heavier so therefore, packs extra calories.

Ground chicken is another lighter and healthy protein swap, or you can make a vegetarian option by using a vegetarian ground turkey as well.

Or you can nix the meat altogether for a homemade vegetable chili option add a few additional red bell peppers, carrots, and celery to thicken it up a bit. 

Is Turkey Chili Better Than Beef Chili?

Despite their similar nutritional profiles, turkey and beef have different flavors. To most people, beef has a stronger flavor than turkey. As long as there are a lot of other ingredients and seasonings in the dish, you won’t notice the difference in taste if the turkey is substituted for beef.

photo of one way to cook Turkey Chili in an instant pot by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

3 Methods to Cook Chili

1 — Stovetop Turkey Chili

This works great if you will be home to stir the chili occasionally as it cooks for a few hours, and will only dirty one pot! It also makes your house smell delicious for several hours, which is a definite bonus.

2 — Instant Pot Turkey Chili

The Instant Pot is probably our favorite way to cook chili, especially if this is your first time. It’s fast and easy and is perfect for those days when 5 o’clock hits and you have 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. Like the stovetop version, you’ll only have one pot to clean in the end.

Plus, there’s so many things to cook in this nifty device like Instant Pot breakfasts and pork loin roast.

3 — Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Need to have dinner waiting when you walk in the door? This method is for you! You will have to brown the meat in a skillet over medium heat and saute the vegetables in a separate pan. But you can do 100% of the work ahead of time and have a bubbling pot of the best turkey chili waiting for you at the end of the day in a slow cooker.

Some of our favorite slow cooker recipes include our chicken tortilla soup and crockpot meatballs.

photo of the Best Easy Turkey Chili Recipe garnished with avocado, cheese and sour cream by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

Topping Ideas to Put on Turkey Chili

While chili is really known for its base of chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salt pepper, one of the best parts of chili is the toppings! You can go all out, or you can just use what you’ve got in your fridge. Our favorite chili toppings include:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese: Any cheese could work. However, cheddar really pairs well with the acidity of the tomatoes. 
  • Jalapenos: If you want to add a little more kick to your meal, add a couple of slices of jalapenos to your chili.
  • Avocado and green onions: Have some extras in your fridge? Slice and dice them for a great healthy topping!
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt: Cools down the heat a little, and makes your turkey chili a little bit creamy.
  • Corn tortilla chips: For some crunch.

what toppings work well for best easy turkey chili recipe by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

How to Store

Homemade turkey chili can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days if stored and covered in a container. There are also lots of leftover chili recipes if you want to keep the fridge clear.

However, if you made a big batch, you can definitely freeze any leftovers. To reheat, thaw the chili overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stove or microwave

 

photo of the Best Easy Turkey Chili Recipe cooking in an Instant Pot by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

More Healthy Recipes

We can’t wait to hear what your guests think of our turkey chili recipe! And in case you’re looking for additional healthy dinner pairing ideas, here are a few of our favorites below —

photo of one way to cook Turkey Chili in an instant pot by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

main photo of the Best Easy Turkey Chili by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth

Turkey Chili Recipe

Print Recipe
4.50 from 10 votes
Discover a delicious and nutritious twist on classic chili with our healthy turkey chili recipe that's packed with lean protein and hearty flavors.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey meat
  • 4 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion roughly diced
  • 1 bell pepper chopped into 1/2” pieces
  • 1 cup corn frozen, canned, or fresh
  • 1 tbsp fresh garlic 2-3 cloves minced or 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes canned or fresh
  • 7 oz diced green chilis canned or fresh
  • 30 oz kidney beans dark or light

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 1357mg | Potassium: 289mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 833IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
Servings: 8
Calories: 159kcal

Notes

  • Yields 6 quarts
  • Topping ideas:
    • Shredded cheddar cheese
    • Jalapeños
    • Avocado
    • Green onions
    • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
    • Corn tortilla chips

Instructions

Stovetop Directions --

  • In a large pot, heat half of the olive oil over medium-high heat until it is simmering and runs quickly across the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the ground turkey and cook for 10 minutes, stirring and chopping it with a wooden or metal spoon, until it is cooked through. Remove from pot and strain off any excess fat.
  • Set the pot back on the stove, and heat the rest of the olive oil over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the onion, pepper, and corn to the pot. Saute it for about five minutes, or until the onions are beginning to soften and look translucent.
  • Push the veggies to one side, then add the minced garlic on the bottom of the pot and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the turkey back in with the vegetables and stir together with the spices and salt. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir together. Allow it to all heat up, then reduce the heat to low and bring the turkey chili to a gentle simmer.
  • Cook for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Before serving, taste the chili to see if you wish to make add any salt.
  • Serve with toppings of your choice. 

Instant Pot Directions --

  • Chop all of the vegetables, mix together the spices, and open all of the cans to have everything ready as you need it.
  • Turn the Instant Pot on to the saute setting and heat half of the olive oil. Add the ground turkey and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring and chopping it with a wooden or metal spoon, until it is cooked through. Remove from pot and strain off any excess fat.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil on the saute setting and add the onion, pepper, and corn to the pot. Saute it for about five minutes, or until the onions are beginning to soften and look transluscent.
  • Push the veggies to one side, then add the minced garlic on the bottom of the pot and cook until frangrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the turkey back in with the vegetables and stir together with the spices and salt. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir together.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure that the valve is set to sealing. Turn on the pressure cook setting on high and set the timer for 15 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is over, you can either vent the steam valve manually or allow it to release naturally. Before serving, taste the chili to see if you wish to make add any salt.
  • Serve with toppings of your choice. 

Slow Cooker Directions --

  • In a large pot, heat half of the olive oil over medium-high heat until it is shimmering and runs quickly across the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the ground turkey and cook for 10 minutes, stirring and chopping it with a wooden or metal spoon, until it is cooked through. Remove from pot and strain off any excess fat.
  • Set the pot back on the stove, and heat the rest of the olive oil over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the onion, pepper, and corn to the pot. Saute it for about five minutes, or until the onions are beginning to soften and look translucent.
  • Push the veggies to one side, then add the minced garlic on the bottom of the pot and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the seasonings.
  • Add all of the meat and veggies to a large slow cooker, then add in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cook it on low for 4-6 hours, or high for 3-4 hours. Before serving, taste the chili to see if you wish to make add any pepper and salt.
  • Serve with toppings of your choice.
KEYWORD: turkey chili

Don’t forget to share your Turkey Chili with us on Instagram using the hashtag #sugarandclothloves. We always love seeing all of your creations! Looking for more delicious recipes? Fnd them all right here!

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