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If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you likely have never had Cincinnati Chili. According to my husband, I botched his experience by calling it Chili to begin with. As a Texan, he has VERY serious notions about Chili. What it isn’t, never has been and never will be is a meat sauce served over pasta, topped with grated cheddar cheese with kidney beans and onion.

To this day, he’s never eaten it again. To me, that is sinful in and of itself. You see, when I was a child, we’d vacation yearly in Florida and my parents would drive WAY out of the way just so we could have Cincinnati Chili. I remember being delighted by the mound of fancy grated cheddar on top of the chili and liked to wait until it got melty before I dug in.

My dad and mom would both get theirs “5 Way” which has spaghetti, chili, cheese, kidney beans and white onion. Dad would also get a hotdog dressed with the chili, cheese and onion. They weren’t Koegle Viennas so I wouldn’t touch the hot dogs. It was no surprise my parents paid off one of the owners of one of the franchises to get an authentic recipe and to this day, even the smell of it reminds me of my dad.

So, whether you have tried it or not, you will want to. BUT, do NOT try to sell it as Chili to a Texan, just call it Greek Spaghetti because that is what it really is.

Oh, and I’m pretty sure you can get it in one of the terminals at the Cincinnati airport.

Cincinnati Chili (Greek Spaghetti)

Ok, this recipe has a lot of ingredients but is so easy you won’t believe it. I recommend getting all your seasonings and ingredients out first- this cuts down on confusion later.


What you need


1 QT of cold water in a large soup pot

2 lbs of ground beef- very lean

2 6 oz cans of tomato paste (no spices in it)

½ tsp of all spice

½ tsp of cayenne pepper

3 cloves of garlic minced

3 tbs chili powder

2 tbs cider vinegar

1 lg bay leaf

5 whole cloves

2 tsp worchestire sauce

½ oz of bitter chocolate

1 ½ tsp salt

3 tsp cinnamon

2 medium onions virtually liquefied in a food processor

1 medium onion chopped

Fine grated cheddar cheese

Red kidney beans rinsed and drained

Spaghetti noodles


Place the ground beef in the soup pot with the water and let it separate. It should have no chunks- smooth and totally gross looking.

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl (except cheese, chopped onions and kidney beans and spaghetti). Combine all liquid ingredients in another small bowl (except cheese, chopped onions and kidney beans and spaghetti).

Once the ground beef is totally separated boil it for thirty minutes to reduce the water. Add all other ingredients except cheese, chopped onions and kidney beans and spaghetti. Stir until it boils. Simmer for three to four hours.

Prepare spaghetti as directed. On a plate place spaghetti and add chili (one-way), add cheese (two-way) add onions (four-way) add kidney beans (five-way). I like the onions crisp and my cheese melty- so I prepare a five way without the onion- microwave it until the cheese is melty and then add the onion on top right before serving.

This is a fantastic game day meal. Easy to prepare in advance and inexpensive for a large group. Hearty and satisfying. Do not call it chili- in Texas, no one will eat it because it doesn’t make sense. Call it Greek Spaghetti since it is a greek recipe and it’s served over pasta.