This slow-cooker turkey chili is a leaner alternative to a classic dish that doesn't skip on flavor

The addition of broth and a little soy sauce helps reinforce the meatiness of this leaner meat

By America's Test Kitchen

Published January 23, 2021 7:31PM (EST)

 (America's Test Kitchen)
(America's Test Kitchen)

Turkey chili is a great alternative to classic beef chili, providing a leaner but no less flavorful meal for the dinner table. To help protect our ground turkey from drying out, we enlisted the help of a panade — a paste of bread and milk — to provide added moisture. We also found the addition of broth and a little soy sauce helped reinforce the meatiness of the leaner meat. Be sure to use ground turkey, not ground turkey breast (also labeled 99% fat-free), in this recipe. Serve with your favorite chili garnishes.


Recipe: Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili

Serves 8 to 10

Cooking time: 4 to 5 hours on low ||

Slow cooker size: 5 to 7 quarts


  • 2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 onions, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 11/4 cups chicken broth, plus extra as needed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • Salt and pepper

1. Mash bread and soy sauce into paste in large bowl using fork. Add ground turkey and knead with hands until well combined.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and bell pepper and cook until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add half of turkey mixture and cook, breaking up turkey with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining turkey mixture. Stir in broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.

4. Stir beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and chipotle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until turkey is tender, 4 to 5 hours on low. Break up any remaining large pieces of turkey with spoon. Adjust consistency with extra hot broth as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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