Thick & Healthy Turkey Chili is a healthy, hearty chili made with lean turkey, red kidney beans, corn, and bell pepper. It's loaded with protein and fiber without sacrificing any flavor. This heart-healthy dinner can be made on a weeknight in under 45 minutes and yields plenty of leftovers.
Healthy Turkey Chili is always in the weeknight dinner rotation. We make it about once a month and it lasts us 3-4 nights (2 nights for a whole family of 4). As a result, we have fewer dishes, less cooking, and more time to spend together and with our pups. This chili is a healthy and lean dish that is also very flavorful and satisfying.
Since heart health is so important, I make sure our dinner rotation is full of healthy meals that are full of flavor. I particularly enjoy a hot bowl of Ground Turkey Chili with a side of Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread with Miso year-round, even in the summer months.
How to Add Flavor with Toppings
Toppings add flavor and texture to the chili. If you've read Samin Nostrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, or seen her Netflix series, you know these four components are essential for a delicious dish. For this healthy chili recipe, I recommend the following:
- Salt - A batch of Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips add a savory, garlicky crunch to every bite.
- Fat - Since this recipe is a little spicy, you can also add Cojita or cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt or sour cream to compliment the spice.
- Acid - A squeeze of lime juice adds a tang to the chili and deepen the dish's seasoning.
- Heat - Diced red onion, green onion, and cilantro bring a spicy, aromatic bite to the dish without overpowering the chili's flavors.
How to Make Healthy Turkey Chili
Healthy Turkey Chili has lean turkey meat and healthy ingredients that offer texture and flavor. My secret ingredient soy sauce, which gives the chili a sweet and savory umami taste. This chili tastes delicious on its own or with a tasty side like rice or Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread with Miso. Additionally, you can even make healthy turkey dogs with this chili!
Steps to Make Chili
- Cook the Aromatics - First, in a 5-quart dutch oven or large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Then, add green or red bell pepper and onion and cook until the onion is fragrant and translucent, or for about 3-5 minutes.
- Brown the Turkey - Add the ground turkey breast to the pot and break apart the meat into crumbly pieces. Allow the turkey to cook until it is browned. Stir in garlic and soy sauce, and simmer for a few more minutes.
- Add the Flavor - Add tomatoes, water, corn, kidney beans, chiles, bay leaf, cumin, chili flakes, and salt to the pot. Once you have added the ingredients, stir them until well-mixed.
- Cook - Cover the pot and cook over low to medium heat. Then, allow the chili to simmer for 25 minutes. As a result, all of the ingredients will meld together and draw out the flavors.
- Bake the Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips - While the chili is simmering, slice the corn tortillas into thirds, then cut each third into strips. In a mixing bowl, toss the tortilla strips with vegetable oil, garlic powder, and salt to taste until evenly coated. Once coated, place the tortilla strips on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Make the Homemade Greek Yogurt - While the chili is simmering, use a food processor to pulse and blend Greek yogurt, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, lemon juice, green onions, and water until creamy and well mixed, about 30 seconds.
- Sit and Serve - Once the chili is cooked, let it sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken. Serve the chili in bowls and garnish with Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips, cheese, Greek yogurt, onions, cilantro, and lime juice.
How to Make This Recipe Vegetarian or Vegan
While this gluten free recipe calls for turkey, you can easily make it vegetarian. In lieu of meat, you can use chickpeas or an additional serving of kidney beans. You can also substitute the dairy toppings, including Greek yogurt and cheese, for non-dairy options or completely omit them. Either way, the chili will be flavorful and delicious.
How to Make This Recipe More Mild or Spicier
Reducing or increasing spice in this recipe is easy. To make the recipe milder, omit or reduce the amount of chili flakes in the recipe. If you want to add more spice, you can add an additional can of diced green chiles, increase the amount of chili flakes in the recipe, or add a couple tablespoons of chili powder.
- Bean medley - Substitute kidney beans with a combination of black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans if you want more variety in the chili.
- Ground Beef - Use ground beef if you prefer the texture or taste of ground beef to turkey. We suggest using lean ground beef so the chili is still as healthy as possible.
This simple turkey chili requires a few kitchen essentials, all of which can be used for many other common recipes. To make this chili, you will need a knife, cutting board, medium pot or dutch oven. You can also use a slow cooker or crock pot for this recipe. You can cook it on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.
For the Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips, you will need a mixing bowl and baking sheet.
To explore more kitchen items to make your kitchen complete, head to my shop: Kat’s Kitchen Essentials.
Storing this Ground Turkey Chili incredibly easy. After you make the chili, store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can store the chili in smaller containers for meal prep.
To reheat the chili, transfer leftovers into a pot. Heat the chili on medium heat and occasionally stir.
The great part about this thick chili recipe is its flexibility. Besides controlling the spice level or making it vegetarian, you can also play with other aspects of the recipe like the amount of beans. For example, sometimes we just use 1 can of beans. If you or your family aren't fans of beans, feel free to reduce the amount of beans to 1 can or none, the chili will still be delicious.
Did You Like This Recipe?
If you loved this thick hearty chili, please rate and comment below! For more healthy weeknight dinner ideas, check out:
- HEALTHY PENNE ALLA VODKA
- DUTCH OVEN WHOLE CHICKEN WITH MEYER LEMON
- LEMONY SPRING RISOTTO WITH PEAS AND ASPARAGUS
Thick & Healthy Turkey Chili
- 1 lb lean ground turkey breast
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 red or green bell pepper chopped
- 2 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes with juices
- 1 cup water
- 1 15 oz can whole kernel corn juice drained
- 2 15 oz cans kidney beans juice drained
- 1 can 4 oz can diced green chiles
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 batch of Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips
- Cojita or shredded cheddar cheese
- Greek yogurt sour cream, or creme fraiche
- Diced green onions
- Diced red onion
- Lime wedges
- In a 5 quart dutch oven or large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion and cook until the onion is fragrant and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add turkey breast and break apart the meat into crumbly pieces. Allow the turkey to cook until it is no longer pink. Stir in garlic and soy sauce, and simmer for 3 more minutes.
- Add tomatoes, water, corn, kidney beans, chiles, bay leaf, cumin, chili flakes, and salt. Stir the ingredients until well-mixed.
- Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low-medium. Allow the chili to simmer for 25 minutes.
- While the chili is simmering, bake the Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips by slicing the corn tortillas into thirds, then cutting each third into strips. Next, in a mixing bowl, toss the tortilla strips with vegetable oil, garlic powder, and salt to taste until evenly coated. Once coated, place the tortilla strips on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving with chili.
- While the chili is simmering, make the homemade Greek Yogurt by using a food processor to pulse and blend Greek yogurt, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, lemon juice, green onions, and water until creamy and well mixed, about 30 seconds.
- Once the chili is cooked, let it sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken. Serve in bowls and garnish with Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips, cheese, Greek yogurt, onions, cilantro, and lime juice.
Editor's note: This post was originally published on January 5, 2019 and republished on July 8, 2020.
Such a yummy and hardy chili. We had it for a few nights this week. Love that there is also a vegetarian option, will try that next time.
Love the addition of soy sauce for some added umami flavor, great idea!
Love that this is adaptable to vegetarians! Thanks for another killer recipe!
Loooove chili with ground turkey! It's definitely one of our go-to healthy weeknight dinners. Can't wait to give yours a try!
This sounds and looks SO good. Need to try ASAP, I think it’ll become a staple in my house! Also, really into all the toppings!
The photos of this healthy turkey chili are absolutely gorgeous!
I can eat chili all year round and this one has amazing fresh flavor! I love how you can adapt the recipe to your tastes as well. A keeper!!
We love chili in our house, even on the hottest days of the year! Can't wait to make this. Putting everything on my grocery list now! Thanks for a great recipe!