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.


  1. says

    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.

    • Laura says

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

    • Laura says

      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!

  2. Amelia says

    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.

    • Laura says

      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. 😉

      • amelia says

        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! :)

  3. says

    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!

  4. says

    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…..

    • Laura says

      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!

  5. says

    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. 😛 Now I have a great way to use some of it up.

  6. says

    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!

  7. says

    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??

  8. says

    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;)

  9. says

    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

  10. says

    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.

  11. says

    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! :)

  12. says

    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.

  13. says

    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! 😀 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. […] – it also makes for some strange but good kitchen experiments.  I’ve used it in chili, hummus, and pumpkin bread… why not as a popcorn […]

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