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Recipe: Slow cooker turkey chili

Posted May 22, 2014

Slow cooker turkey chili

Now is not the time of year when I want to spend a bunch of time over the stove, working on dinner. Now is the time that I want to be hanging outside with the kids and friends, at the pool or out and about.

I landed on this slow cooker recipe last year as I was trying to figure out what to do with some ground turkey. The recipe comes courtesy of Food Network.

I followed the recipe exactly when I first made it. It was tasty, but I found that it came out a little too salty for my family's taste. So I made some modifications. I cut out one teaspoon of salt that the original recipe calls for. I liked the corn flavor that comes from using the crushed tortilla chips. But instead of using salty tortilla chips, I used crushed hard taco shells and reduced the amount to one cup.

A little bonus with this recipe: You can tell your kids that chocolate is for dinner. (Note the cocoa powder in the ingredient list).

Here's how I make it now.

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
Adapted from

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 pound ground turkey 
Kosher salt
One 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if you prefer a thinner chili
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Two 15-ounce cans pinto beans, strained and rinsed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup crushed corn tortilla chips (or crushed hard taco shells)
3 cloves garlic, chopped

You'll want to brown the turkey before you put it in the slow cooker. First heat the oil in a skillet and add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Stir and cook for about two minutes. Then add the ground turkey and one teaspoon of salt and cook. The turkey doesn't need to be fully cooked. You just want to make sure the turkey and spices are all mixed together. Spoon the meat into your slow cooker.

To the skillet, add the tomatoes, broth, cocoa powder, vinegar and oregano and bring to a simmer as you whisk it together. The original recipe calls for another teaspoon of salt here, but I cut it out. Add that mixture, along with the beans, crushed chips/tacos and garlic to  the slow cooker. Stir. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

You can use more chicken broth to thin your chili. I like it thicker. I serve it over rice or use it as meat for tacos. Top it with your usual taco or chili toppings, such as sour cream, avocado, cheese and more tortilla chips.

My family of four light eaters can get three dinners out of this recipe, along with a couple of lunches for my husband.

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