Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti

Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti

Beef chili served over spaghetti and garnished with kidney beans, raw onions, cheddar cheese and crushed oyster crackers. A Cincinnati favorite adapted from Michael Symon.

Two things set this chili apart from others, one being obvious, the way it’s served and the second being the spices, namely the 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and allspice, ingredients you see more often in baking than in chili. Don’t be scared.

They blend right in with the chili powder, cayenne, cumin and a small amount of cocoa powder to give a rich depth of flavor that is insanely delicious! Well balanced between savory, spicy and sweet with subtle notes of the aromatic cinnamon peeking through.

I’m not even going to try and describe what it smells like as it cooks. There are no words. I’ll leave it up to your imagination.

You can personalize this the way you like with the garnishes. That’s half the fun. If you don’t like kidney beans you can use a different type or leave them off completely. It won’t suffer for it.

This reminds me so much of Italian meat sauce. Of course the flavors are different but it’s the same idea. Seasoned meat + spaghetti. They both hold the same exact comfort.

Cincinatti Spaghetti Chili

Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti

Beef chili served over spaghetti and garnished with kidney beans, raw onion, cheddar cheese and crushed oyster crackers. A Cincinnati favorite.


For the Chili:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 small yellow onion, minced (minced)
2 garlic cloves, minced
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water (preferably bottled)
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1 pound spaghetti, for serving
For the Garnish:
1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 small yellow onion (minced)
2 - 3 cups finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
oyster crackers


  1. Heat the oil in large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add beef, onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and break the meat apart as it cooks.
  2. Add the chili powder, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon and allspice. Cook 2 to 3 more minutes, stirring often.
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, water, the bay leaf, cocoa powder, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Season with more salt and black pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook 1 hour, stirring and tasting often - season as needed.
  5. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to package directions in plenty of salted water. Heat the beans.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Serve the chili over spaghetti garnished with your choice of kidney beans, raw onion, cheese and crushed oyster crackers.


Adapted from Michael Symon

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved.

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  1. JT says

    Cincinnati style chili, recipe is pretty close to accurate. One mistake a lot of people due is try to add chunks of veggies like it’s a western chili. The other little secret most people don’t know is that the chili is actually boiled. This is why it is more runny than other chili’s and is usually served over top coneys spaghetti, or cream cheese.

  2. Melissa says

    Another name for this dish is called a 5-way. The basic is a 3-way which is just chili, spaghetti and cheese. 4-way is either onion or kidney beans and a five way is both.

  3. says

    This has always been one of those dishes I have seen on Food TV and thought it sounded so good. Like you said, its like a meat sauce, but just a little different. The allspice and cinnamon sounds yummy and unexpected – I love that. Will have to pin this for later for sure!

  4. says

    Reeni, I was weened on Skyline Chili and let me just say, it is something everyone should experience, and an absolute must eat if ever in Cincinnati. It is a chili unique to all others. I moved away from home many years ago and now, whenever I go home to visit, I RUN to Skyline. My sister actually works for Skyline. No visit home would be complete without multiple meals at this iconic restaurant. Many other chili parlors (diners) in the area do their own riff on the original. Each have their own avid followers. I am miles and weeks away from visiting home, but your photo has sparked an immediate need for some chili.

    • says

      Thank-you for your comment Mary! Lucky you for growing up with this! I hope I get to visit Cincinnati some day and experience it first hand! I’d love to try a few different versions to compare. And I just realized I spelled it wrong – how embarrassing and kind of you not to pick on me. . . must fix ASAP.

  5. says

    The first time I went to Cincy, all anyone could talk about was this dish (and the particular diner you are supposed to eat it at) and I thought they were bonkers. But I am starting to see how this really could work. It looks like really amazing comfort food!

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