Simple Supper Friday: Cincinnati-Style Chili

Paleo Cincinnati-style chili

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Cincinnati chili. I’m not really sure why or how it popped into my head, but it did. I recall really liking it in my younger years, and remember first trying it when I was in elementary school — probably third or fourth grade. My mom went through a phase of making it for a while, but then it kind of fizzled out and we stuck with standard spaghetti and standard chili. I think part of why I liked it as a kid was because it involved two certain foods (that kids often love): 1. spaghetti noodles and 2. cheddar cheese. As you can guess, this version doesn’t include either of those things, though traditionally, both foods are involved in Cincinnati-style chili. Instead, I used spiralized zucchini as noodles (it’s delicious with spaghetti squash too) and omitted the cheddar cheese. If you do tolerate some dairy/cheese, feel free to garnish with some good quality cheddar, preferably raw/grass-fed. Fresh grated Parmesan would work well too.


  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 tsp grass-fed tallow or fat of choice
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1.5 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup beef bone broth
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (I like this brand with the mother culture)
  • 1/2 tsp raw honey, optional but recommended
  • 15 oz can of no salt added tomato sauce
  • Julienned/spiralized zucchini or roasted spaghetti squash scraped into noodles, for serving


  1. Melt the tallow in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onion and garlic. Break up the meat with a spatula or wooden spoon and cook until the most of the meat is browned, about 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sea salt, spices and cocoa powder, and cook about 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Next, add the apple cider vinegar, tomato sauce, bone broth and raw honey, if using. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until sauce has thickened up a bit.
  4. Once chili is done, serve atop of zucchini noodles or roasted spaghetti squash. Garnish with raw/grass-fed cheddar cheese if desired and tolerated.

Yields: 3-4 servings


19 thoughts on “Simple Supper Friday: Cincinnati-Style Chili

  1. Megan November 9, 2012 / 6:47 am

    That looks amazing. What would you say the percentage is that you guys eat red meat vs white?

    • paleoinpdx November 9, 2012 / 9:01 am

      Thanks! It’s hard to say because it varies. Some weeks we eat more, some less, but it’s always in the form of local/grass-fed beef. I’m not a big pork person and never buy it, and I’m still kinda scared to try lamb (I made bone broth with grass-fed lamb bones and wasn’t too crazy about the flavor). We also eat a lot of chicken — breasts, thighs, legs, whole chickens — and some turkey, usually ground breast or thighs. Fish on occasion. We buy what sounds good, what’s on sale or based on recipes, and our freezer always at least has grass-fed ground beef in it. Why is it that you ask?

      • Megan November 9, 2012 / 9:48 am

        The last few recipes I spotted from you were red meat based and I was curious! I have been all red meat this week because it was on sale and prior to paleo I would be worried about the excess. I plan on ideally getting a mix next week for variation but I just wanted to hear from some one who has been doing this longer than I have!

      • paleoinpdx November 9, 2012 / 9:51 am

        Gotcha. Keep in mind though, my recipes aren’t always posted in the order I eat them 😉 Obviously, I’m not worried about it either, especially knowing what I know (and I know this goes for you too). It’s good to switch it up though!

  2. Cinnamoneats November 9, 2012 / 11:11 am

    I’ve never had chili before. Is this very spicy?

    • paleoinpdx November 9, 2012 / 12:04 pm

      This isn’t your typical chili because it’s meant to be eaten like a sauce over noodles, but it’s more warm spicy (allspice, cinnamon, cloves) than hot spicy. Also, you can always omit the cayenne. I don’t like things super spicy, but do like a little kick.

      • Cinnamoneats November 9, 2012 / 1:10 pm

        ahhh ok cool! Well I’ll have to try it out then 🙂

  3. Jill November 9, 2012 / 6:41 pm

    So sad i can’t find grass fed beef here 😦 I can’t find anything hormone-free. Sucks. I end up eating a ton of fish (particularly canned salmon and sardines just cause it is quick and CHEAP…). I eat a ton of eggs too and suspect I’ve developed an allergy. I tend to eat the same things day in and out and I think its actually a problem. How many servings is this by the way? Do you spend a lot of money on food and time on cooking?
    Also, do you post a weekly workout log? Woudl love to know your weekly routine. Thanks!!

    • paleoinpdx November 9, 2012 / 9:06 pm

      Bummer, sorry to hear that Jill! Just keep doing the best that you can though. If you suspect you have an egg allergy, maybe try backing off and see how you feel. Then, reintroduce eggs after a couple weeks or so and see how it goes.

      This recipe makes 3-4 meal-sized servings. We spend a decent, but not outrageous amount on good-quality food, but for us it’s worth it. Plus, we don’t have a TV or cable, own a home, have kids, go out a lot, spend a lot on clothes, etc. In that regard, it’s a compromise, but it’s also very important to us, so we find ways to make it work.

      I don’t post a weekly workout log because I workout in group classes. I do power vinyasa/vinyasa yoga for 90 minutes 4-5x per week at my yoga studio and strength/cross-train at my gym, Recreate Fitness (where I also help coach classes) 3-4x per week (classes are 60 min. long). I usually only take one day off per week, but sometimes two — recovery days are not my strong point, but I’m trying to be better about taking at least one every week. I used to go for weeks on end without taking even one, but it’s not ideal and I’ve kinda learned my lesson. I just love activity and feel so much more balanced with it in my day! Power vinyasa yoga is my main deal, but I like the combination of both. If you have any specific questions regarding any of these things, let me know!

      • Jill November 10, 2012 / 9:42 am

        whoa, you do a lot!! The REcreate fitness classes…is that your yoga classes? I don’t have a gym or yoga studio..not much money for tapes and videos at all. And I really don’t like laptop stuff. Worse, is the COLD weather. I’m really lost 😦

      • paleoinpdx November 10, 2012 / 10:54 am

        I know, I do! Recreate Fitness is the name of the gym, not the name of the classes. No, it’s not where I do yoga, though I do teach a 1-hour yoga class there once/week. I also assist with regular group classes and work out there, thus I don’t have to pay for a membership. I do yoga at a studio near my house called Root Whole Body and have been practicing there for 4 years. My best advice is to find things you enjoy doing — find the forms of exercise you enjoy. There’s tons of awesome bodyweight exercises and circuits you can create and do at home with ZERO equipment! I’m a huge advocate for bodyweight exercise. You can Google it or look on YouTube and find lots of examples. Also, check out some of MovNat’s YouTube videos for inspiration (bodyweight/primal movements). Burpees are an awesome bodyweight exercise, in addition to squats, jump squats, crawls, pushups (so many variations too!), lunges, jumping lunges, sprints, etc. Lots of possibilities, you just need to find what works for you.

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