Three-Bean Turkey Chili + How to Make Your Own Chili Powder


In September, Sam and I went camping in Yosemite with my sister Laurel and her husband Joe. For dinner on our first night my sister whipped up this delicious Three-Bean Turkey Chili. Food has a tendency to taste more satisfying when you’re camping, but this chili is an exception: it tasted just as delicious at home as when we had it camping. Cocoa powder and cinnamon are the secret ingredients here, infusing the chili with flavors characteristic of mole.

Chili is versatile, so if you don’t have the exact type of beans called for in the recipe, substitute whatever beans you have on hand. Also, ground turkey is often sold in 1 lb. packages, and if you’d rather not buy an extra package to get the extra ½ lb. of meat, skip the extra meat and add another can of beans.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ pounds lean ground turkey
¼ cup chili powder (store-bought or see recipe below)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
1 15-ounce cans of white beans, rinsed, drained
1 15-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed, drained
1 15-ounce cans of kidney beans, rinsed, drained

Chopped red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Plain low-fat yogurt or light sour cream

Make the Chili

Heat oil in large heavy pot over low heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn and beans to chili and simmer until flavors meld, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. Ladle chili into bowls. Pass red onion, cilantro and yogurt separately.

Chili Recipe heavily adapted from

How to Make Your Own Chili Powder

When I began making this Three-Bean Turkey Chili, I had everything except the chili powder. Chili powder is a big part of Chili, but between all the ground, dried and fresh chiles in our house, I couldn’t bring myself to walk a block in the pouring rain to buy chili powder at the corner grocery store. I knew chili powder is a blend of spices, but I wasn’t sure which ones. A quick Google search gave me the answers and provided a simple recipe for chili powder. And guess what—I had all the ingredients in the cupboard.

Combine in a small bowl:
2 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
4 teaspoons garlic powder (I used fresh minced garlic)

While this makes slightly less than the ¼ cup of chili powder called for in the recipe, I’m fairly certain it’s a good deal spicier than commercial chili powder because it resulted in a spicy Chili.

Chili Powder recipe from

3 Thoughts on “Three-Bean Turkey Chili + How to Make Your Own Chili Powder

  1. I LOOOOVE chili!!!! It’s seriously one of my favorite foods of all time.

    • andrealein on October 29, 2010 at 1:54 PM said:

      You’re back! Hope you had a fun trip! And yes, chili is an amazing food. I wanted to make chili all summer, but made myself wait for cooler weather. And now that it’s Fall, it’s chili time!

  2. Pingback: Zucchini, Corn and Red Onion Tacos -

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