Jan 03

Turkey Beer Chili

No drinking in Junk-Free January.



Booze cooks out, so I’m calling the recipe “in bounds.”

With the holidays over, you may have some extra beers lying around your house.  Don’t let them go to waste!  Even if you don’t drink beer, it’s a good idea to keep them on hand.

Beer can act as a tenderizer, adds lightness to batters (think: beer bread), and leaves behind a light hop/barley flavor in stews.  I used a pilsner in this chili recipe, but a lager would work well too.



Chili is meant to be hearty, not soup-y (in my not-so-humble opinion).  Mine is a beast of a bowl.  Between the turkey and the beans (the more you eat ‘em, the more you…), it’s nearly thick enough to eat with a fork.

Depending on your preference, ground chicken or crumbled tempeh would also work well here.



I like the smokiness of  a Tex-Mex-style chili, so I added some liquid smoke and used fire-roasted tomatoes.  If you don’t have smoke you can simply leave it out, or add smoked paprika in place of some of the ancho chili powder.

Mexican food is one of my favorites, so I made sure to add in jalapeno and cumin.  The heat is pleasant - not overwhelming – and just what the doctor ordered in the suddenly arctic weather we are having in Atlanta.  Seriously… what happened to our Southern California-like weather?



Turkey Beer Chili

Turkey Beer Chili

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 tsp avocado oil (can use olive)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 T ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 10-15 drops liquid smoke
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted, low sodium)
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2 C pilsner beer
  • 1/2 C low sodium veggie broth
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh chives and Greek yogurt, to top


Heat a large pot  over med-high heat.  Spray with olive oil or cooking spray and place turkey in pot.  Stir the turkey and cook until no pink remains (~ 5 mins).  

Add the olive oil and the onion to the pot.  Cook over medium heat until softened (~5 mins).  Add the garlic and jalapeno, cooking until fragrant (~2-3 mins).  Add spices and stir to combine.

Add the carrot, pepper, tomato puree, beans, liquid smoke, and beer.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Mix in broth and vinegar, then cover.  Allow to simmer and thicken over low heat for 30-45 mins.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Serve, garnished with chives and Greek yogurt.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: To make gluten-free, replace beer with more broth or GF beer.  To make vegan, use tempeh in place of turkey.

Approximate Nutritionals: 316 calories, 8.7g fat, 57.1mg sodium, 26.9g carbs, 7.2g fiber, 5.5g sugar, 30.9g protein


2 reminders: the h.h. gregg $100 gift card giveaway ends at midnight (click here to enter), and don’t forget to link up your Strange But Good creations tomorrow (click here for logo and details).

What is your favorite style of chili?

Have you fully recovered from the holidays?  I’m still spinning a bit.



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  1. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles

    I’ve never thought to use beer in chili before – I might have to give that a shot! And I definitely agree that chili needs to be super thick and chunky.

  2. Amanda @ .running with spoons.

    Love thick chilis. Only soup is meant to be soupy in my opinion. It used to drive me crazy when someone would make oatmeal for it and add too much milk. Gah! Even though I always ate my oatmeal with a spoon, if it wasn’t think enough that I could eat it with a fork, it was a no go for me.

    1. Laura

      I feel the same about oatmeal! It’s suppose to be thick. If I wanted cereal, I would have poured a bowl of cereal!

  3. Michelle @ Eat Move Balance

    My husband and I LOVE chili. I’ll change it up every time–using ground bison, tempeh or beans . . . and my favorite secret ingredient is a T. of cacao powder. It adds a dimension to the chili flavor that’s so good. :)

    1. Laura

      I have yet to cook with bison at home. It’s going to the to-do list!

      I usually do add cocoa to tomato-based dishes. I didn’t do it here because I wasn’t sure that would be good wit the beer I used… I bet it would be good with a stout!

  4. Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count

    This sounds good, Laura! I could substitute TVP. I do that in my chili recipe anyway. Yum!

    1. Laura

      That’s a fantastic idea! I was thinking tempeh, but this perfect for TVP.

  5. Amelia

    Yum! Now the question is…..can you have cornbread with this chili while on your competition diet? :)

    Junk free January is going great over here. I have two bags of ‘junk’ to hand off to my single brother in law that is skinny as a rail….READ: just doesn’t eat.

    1. Laura

      People give me so much crap… but I can’t stand cornbread! Among other Southern classics. That’s why I had to make cauliflower grits. Maybe I’ll re-vamp cornbread…

      I pass my junk off to people too. Tee hee. ;)

      1. amelia

        Is it both sweet and savory cornbread? I bet some kind of sweet potato bread or protein cake would be good with the chili too…..depending on your fuel needs of the day.

        Glad to know I’m not the only one! :)

        1. Laura

          Both… I think it’s a texture thing.

  6. Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness

    I’ve been craving chili all week. This looks delicious and I bet I can easily tweak it to make it vegan :)

    1. Laura

      It is an easy vegan adaptation – tempeh or TVP would both be great here… or just more beans!

  7. Lee

    I’ve kind of recovered from the holidays, but i didn’t really do much so there wasn’t that much to recover from! I am glad, however, that it’s a shorter week this week. Don’t know how it’s going to feel when we have to start working the normal length work week again after so many short weeks!

  8. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

    I’m a pinto girl in my chili and I LOVE it super thick! I also put a splash of apple cider vinegar in at the end of cooking to brighten up the flavors. Now I’m craving chili! This looks perfect for this cold weather!

    1. Laura

      I’m a firm believer that ACV belongs in everything. :)

  9. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets

    And now I want chili. And I must find and buy this liquid smoke.
    The Hubby’s tastes are similar to yours in that you should be able to eat it with a fork. I like a little liquid in mine, but it shouldn’t be soup like by any means. In fact, I use tomato paste to thicken it. This looks delicious, and I have plenty of leftover beer. I also have leftover hard cider which would probably work well in your Butternut Squash Apple Soup…..

    1. Laura

      I got my smoke at Whole Foods.

      Hard cider in butternut soup… I love it!!! You have to let me know if you try it!

  10. Kierston

    Oooh…how interesting this recipe be!

    Shared! :)

  11. Nadiya

    So you’ve just read my mind because while in Mexico they would give us free beer in our fridge. Hence, my family would just take them out everyday and pack them in our suitcase. Magically the fridge would be restocked with more beer once we got back. Well… I was wondering what to do with that beer since my family isn’t too keen on drinking beer. :P Now I have a great way to use some of it up.

    1. Laura

      Hahaha! So why did they care about getting all that free beer?!

  12. Alex @ therunwithin

    oh gosh that sounds good and extra beer lying around makes it a perfect way to use it. I love having just hearty type soups for these colder months.

    1. Laura

      Same here – I’m always cold!

  13. maria @ lift love life

    Omg this looks so good I’m seriously drooling. I love anything with beer, hah.

  14. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    Definitely love thick chilli, too. I have a bulghur-bean-corn chili we make a lot, but I’ve actually been craving meat this winter and eating it more than usual, so I might have to add this to the plan for next week!

    1. Laura

      Funny, I’ve been craving meat more too… until this winter I never cared for ground turkey!

  15. Laura @ Fit Running Mama

    I need to make this! Would be awesome with ground bison!!!

    1. Laura

      Someone else said that! I’m definitely going to try it. :)

  16. Allie

    Mmm, I love beer-based chilis! (Okay, beer anything…) And I’m with you–it’s gotta be thick and hearty or else it’s not chili, it’s just weak soup! And where’s the fun in that??

  17. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat

    Looks incredible!

  18. Heather @ Better With Veggies

    I don’t have a favorite style of chili – but I like chili. :) Really, it just needs spice, beans, and flavor. Simple, right? :)

  19. Lisa

    Chili just may be my favorite winter dish! I just love ‘em. This sounds too amazing to not try. Um yah, I’m still not recovered from the holidays ha. And I’m going to be going out again tonight for a friends birthday…hopefully I live another day;)

    1. Laura

      LOL! You are a better woman than I am. Hope it was fun! :)

  20. Carol @ Lucky Zucca

    I’m spinning too yo. But this weekend we will be clean!!!!! Ahhhh!!! Text me, lets hang out OK?

    Liquid smoke = another item to buy on my “be like Laura list”

    Also… can I submit a strange but good from my mom?! She surprised me when I got home from the beach! heheheheeee

  21. Heather @ girlyeverafter

    I switched to fire roasted tomatoes in my chili too and it’s way better. I’m totally with you on the hearty chili and not soupy. It’s what makes it so good, and not a soup. haha

  22. Kammie @ Sensual Appeal

    Ohh I like I like!! I haven’t cooked with alcohol before but I have baked with it. What brand of the beer did you use?

    1. Laura

      It was the Heavy Seas Uber Pilsner.

  23. Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers

    I loooooooove chili! I actually just made a pot of extra spicy veg chili tonight, and I’m washing it down with my last Christmas beer. Mmmm… beeeeeer. ;)

    1. Laura

      Mmmmm… beer. Yes.

  24. Hannah

    This is awesome. I rarely drink, but I’ve been craving a beer lately. But it’s so annoying that alcohol is only sold in separate liquor store here! I miss being able to buy beer and wine at the supermarket LIKE IN A CIVILISED COUNTRY GODAMMIT.

    1. Laura

      Really? That is bizarre… we can buy beer just about anywhere!

  25. Jody - Fit at 55

    Sorry so late!!!!!!!!!!!! This looks delish!!!!!!!!!!!! I am not a bean fan as healthy as they are & I toot like no tomorrow! ;) But I love this without those!!!! Looks so delish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amazing recipes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am not a beer fan either but I bet ya might not even taste it with all those other goodies in there! :)

    1. Laura

      LOL! This cracked me up. Have you ever heard of Bean-o?

      1. Jody - Fit at 55

        I have Laura – too lazy to take it & actually I toot to so many foods that I just live with it.. ;) I should try it though. Less expensive at Costco.

  26. Heather (Where's the Beach)

    I used to make my chili with beer, but haven’t done that in ages. I love the addition of the carrots in this one. I am always trying to squeeze in as many veggies as I can (as if I don’t eat enough LOL).

    1. Laura

      Thanks! I find you can toss just about any veggie into a stew. Or a smoothie. Haha!

  27. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi)

    Yummmm. I could use a bowl of this right now.

  28. Allie

    I am loving all of the spices in this recipe! Chili is perfect for the cold weather lately!

  29. Calee

    I love the idea of adding beer to stuff. I’ve got 3 giant bottles in the fridge that we tasted and didn’t love, so I’ve been looking for a way to use them for a while.

  30. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

    Chili HAS to be thick! Actually, any kind of soup I make has to be a hearty one or I’m just never satisfied with it. I’m not much on pureed soups for this reason…unless you give me a half loaf of bread to dip in it! :D I have so many different variations to my go-to chili recipe! I almost always go Tex-Mex style, but the spiciness is always a bit different. I swear it’s never come out the same twice! I’ll have to keep the beer trick in mind next time I whip some up…silently hitting my head against the wall right now for pouring out a bottle of Ocktoberfest yesterday while cleaning out the fridge! Grrr!

    1. Laura

      Ummmm…. you poured out beer?! I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.

  31. Kammie @ Sensual Appeal

    OMG yes I am making this ASAP! I wonder if I can just use a wheat beer for this cause that’s what I have?

    1. Laura

      For sure! You could probably add a little more heat since wheat beer tends to be sweeter.

  32. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    A drunk turkey fell into your pot! Hey, his loss is your gain!

    1. Laura

      That’s what she said. ;)

      1. GiGi Eats Celebrities

        OMFG – STOP! I am dying. I just realized what I said. And I LOVE MYSELF FOR IT! ahhhhh ha ha ha ah ha ha!

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