Five-Way: Cincinnati-Style Chili


Any idea what Cincinnati-Style Chili looks like? It’s a pile of cheddar sitting on a pile of chili on top of a pile of spaghetti.

For a dish that looks so comical, it is hard to believe that it can taste so… divine. This is not your typical chili, it’s a chili that resembles a bolognese. The freshly grated aged cheddar melts between bites of spaghetti and chili. No one knows how chili ended up on top of spaghetti, but one theory is that one of the Greek immigrant restauranteurs who brought this chili (cooking it with spices and flavors that are similar to a Moussaka) over to America brought the chili home, and his housekeeper put it on top of cooked spaghetti for dinner. And voila!

Wait, before you run to the kitchen, know this: two-way is chili and spaghetti, three-way is plus cheese, four-way is plus pinto beans, and five-way is plus chopped onions. I think five-way is the way to go. Enjoy!

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili

Adapted from Food Network


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sweet onions (such as Vidalia), finely chopped, plus more for topping
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked
  • 1 15-oz can Pinto beans
  • Freshly grated Wisconsin aged cheddar cheese, for topping
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp sugar


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the ground beef to the pot, sprinkle with  1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and return the cooked onions to the pot; stir in the garlic.
  2. Combine the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, vinegar, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves and cayenne in a bowl; add to the pot along with 1 cup water and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until the chili is slightly thickened, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. For the last 10 minutes, add milk and sugar and incorporate well.
  3. Serve the chili over the spaghetti; top with chopped onion, pinto beans and grated cheddar.

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