Copycat Cincinnati’s Skyline Chili Recipe

I grew up in Ohio loving Cincinnati’s Skyline Chili! It was one of my favorite meals! When my husband and I first got married, and were living in California, my mom sent me a package with a few cans of Skyline Chili in it. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait for my husband to try it. He loved it, and it soon became a common request! Until… I discovered a few recipes that my husband and I worked to combine and perfect over the years, for the most PERFECT Copycat Cincinnati’s Skyline Chili Recipe!

I have loved making this for friends and family over the past few years and introducing them to this childhood favorite. Everyone is shocked by the ingredient list but LOVES the flavor! I can’t even count the number of people who have asked me for this recipe over the years; so I decided to share it with you BEFORE you have to ask! :) 


  • 1 qt water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 (8 oz) cans of tomato soup
  • 7 whole allspice or 1 tsp. of ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2-4 tbsp. chili powder (2 for more mild, 3 for spice, 4 for a kick)
  • 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (baker’s bar)
  • 2 lbs. ground beef, crumbled
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Optional Toppings: 

  • spaghetti noodles
  • shredded cheese
  • onion
  • beans


1. Begin by adding the ground beef to water in a 4 quart or larger pot. Stir until beef separates to a fine texture. Boil slowly for 30 minutes.

2. Next, add all other ingredients. Stir to blend, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 3 hours. Pot may be covered the last hour after the desired consistency is reached.

3. Chili should be refrigerated for either an hour or even overnight (if possible) to allow all the fat to settle on the top to be lifted before reheating.

4. Serve over spaghetti with oyster crackers. True Skyline Chili is served 3 way, 4 way, or 5 way.

3 way: spaghetti, chili sauce, finely grated cheddar cheese

4 way: spaghetti, chili sauce, finely grated cheddar cheese, onions

5 way: spaghetti, chili sauce, finely grated cheddar cheese, onions, beans


  1. Kimberly says:

    This is almost the exact recipe I use!! Got some simmering in the stove now and my house smells excellent!

  2. William D. Whitfield says:

    Will try this for sure, a lot of recipes fry beef and onions which isn’t correct. As you say raw beef is put into a quart of water and simmered.

  3. Omg…….I made this 20+ yrs. ago, and just now found out that it is an actual recipe!! I would make a big pot of chili, and when it got to the point of not having enough for another time, I put it over macaroni or rice!!
    The family loved it, AND I thought I was doing something different!

  4. When I was in Cincinnati I found a postcard with their recipe on it. It also had nutmeg in it. Strange combination of flavors for those of us from the South. Chili does not normally have allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and chocolate in it.

  5. Hi Mackenzie,

    Your ingredient list has 8 oz cans of tomato soup. Is that right, or should it be tomato sauce?


    • Jim, yes it’s a can of tomato soup; in the soup aisle at the store. Tomato soup is better because it’s a thinner consistency than tomato sauce. Enjoy! :)

  6. I have family from Cincinnati and I love Skyline chili! I have this recipe on the stove now! I hope my picky used to southern chili boyfriend likes it. Thank you!

  7. Mackenzie, thanks for having the “correct” Cincinnati Chili (copycat) recipe. As a borne, raised and longtime resident of Clermont County, Ohio …. ‘SKYLINE’ and ‘GOLDSTAR’. Your recipe is superb.. My only disappointment in your recipe, you forgot the forever beloved Cheese Coney (with it’s mustard, onions and cheese) atop a hotdog with a bun topped with Skyline (or Goldstar) chili. LOL …. If you have a 3, 4, or 5-way chili you need a Cheese Coney to finish off the meal. Thanks for sharing this recipe …. It’s definitely not a Southern, Tex-Mex, Eastern Seaboard, Pacific Coast chili.

Speak Your Mind