Slow Cooker Cincinnati Style Chili

skyline cincinnati chili
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  • 7 hrs 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 7 hrs
  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

Cincinnati-style chili originated with Macedonian immigrants Tom and John Kiradjeff. It was served as a "Coney" hot dog topping in 1922. Tom Kiradjieff modified a Greek dish to develop "chili spaghetti,"  a combination of the spiced chili with spaghetti. Eventually, the chili became a topping and shredded cheese was added to the dish. The dish has since been used and modified and copied by fellow Greek and Macedonian immigrants and other restauranteurs.

You'll love the flavors of the Greek spices used in this chili, and the layers make it a super hearty dish, especially welcome after a day of shopping, work, or fun with the family. It's the slow cooker that makes this chili a truly convenient meal for a busy day. You will have to brown the beef on the stovetop first, but after that, it's just a matter of combining everything in the crock. Cook the spaghetti just before your beefy chili is ready and enjoy a home-cooked meal!

Follow the directions for a three-way chili, or add some chopped onions and kidney beans for the heartier five-way chili. For a lighter version, feel free to use ground turkey and a lower fat cheddar cheese. 

What You'll Need

  • For Chili:
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce (or a 15-ounce can)
  • 1 (5-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons steak sauce
  • 1 cup water (or as needed)
  • For Spaghetti and Cheese:
  • 1 pound spaghetti (cooked)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional: chopped onions
  • Optional: 1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans (drained and heated)

How to Make It

  1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned and no longer pink, stirring and breaking up frequently. Drain off excess drippings.
  2. Transfer the browned beef to the slow cooker and add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, salt, vinegar, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, steak sauce, and 1 cup of water.
  3. Cover the pot and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Check after about 5 hours and add more water, if necessary.
  1. Spoon chili over the hot cooked spaghetti and top with shredded cheese (three-way).
  2. For four-way Cincinnati chili, add a topping of chopped onions. For five-way chili, add a layer of pinto beans.


With the exceptions of meatloaf, stuffed peppers, and stuffed cabbage rolls, ground beef is almost always browned for slow cooker recipes. To make preparation day easier, brown the beef a day in advance. Spoon it into a food storage bag or container, seal, and refrigerate until you're ready to combine the ingredients in the slow cooker.