Turkey Cranberry Chili

Posted on Aug 21 2015 - 9:31pm by Megan

Turkey Cranberry Chili


Let’s start off by properly setting the mood for some turkey eating:

No joke: this song is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving.  One of the radio stations in my home town used to play this song every third week of November. I had a serious Adam Sandler obsession in high school and I vividly remember sitting next to my tape recorder, waiting for this song to play so I could hit record. Then the song would be mine! For free! Old school, pre-Napster music pirating at its finest.

I tried to be a bit more original while developing a turkey chili recipe than going with the obvious “Thanksgiving meal” theme. But really, who doesn’t love a giant turkey dinner? It was the natural path for this recipe to duplicate the beloved annual banquet and shape it into a bowl sized chili feast.

I did have other options. Giada has a California Turkey Chili with quinoa and some west coast attitude. I also could have played the ground turkey like ground beef and done a more traditional chili, but honestly, I’m not a fan of using one ground meat as a substitute for another ground meat. No matter how you shape it or spice it, turkey will be turkey and beef will be beef. So just use beef. Or just use turkey. Don’t get cute with trying to make a beef dish “healthy”. I worked in a restaurant in college that had a turkey burger on the menu to appeal to the health conscious crowd. By the time they doctored it up enough to make it taste like a burger, it had more calories than the normal beef burger. I tried really hard not to laugh whenever anyone snobbily ordered it… mostly I succeeded.

Something to think about when using ground turkey: it doesn’t have a whole lot of natural flavor.  I suggest using ground dark meat turkey instead of breast (juicier and meatier) and then using some sort of fresh herb which will be more potent than any dried version. Don’t be afraid to season heavily and bring in other bold flavors, such as dried fruit.

sagedried cranberries


Fun turkey facts (because deep down I’m a nerd… actually, usually not so deep down. I tend to let that flag fly somewhat freely):

  1. Turkeys and chickens are separated by more than 45 million years of evolution
  2. Baby turkeys are called poults 
  3. Benjamin Franklin once called the turkey “a much more respectable bird” than the bald eagle in reference to it being our national mascot
  4. You can determine the gender of a turkey by the shape of its poop (probably not the best fun fact for a food blog, but I thought it was interesting enough to mention)
  5. The first meal eaten on the moon by Armstrong and Aldrin consisted of packets of roast turkey and all the Thanksgiving trimmings

I do not suggest serving this chili in a big brown shoe. Please use a bowl.

brown shoe

The Recipe:

In a large pot over high heat, combine 3 lbs of ground turkey thigh; 1 ¼ cups of diced white onion (about one medium-large onion); one diced medium sized red bell pepper; one diced medium sized green bell pepper;  ½ T each of dried garlic, onion powder, ground cumin, chili powder, dried rosemary, and dried sage; ½ t each of nutmeg, ground allspice, and ground cloves; ¾ t ground cinnamon; 2 t sea salt; 2 t black pepper; 4 cups chicken broth; 1 cup of dried sweetened cranberries; 1 T Worcestershire sauce; one 6 oz can of tomato paste; 1 ½ T fresh chopped sage.

Stir all the ingredients to thoroughly combine and let the mixture come up to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes stirring after 15 minutes.

all in the pot

To Serve:

Ladle into a bowl and top with chopped, dried, sweetened cranberries and a side of corn bread.


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