Healthy Turkey Chili

Healthy Turkey Chili packed with flavor and good-for-you ingredients! |

Fall, that magical time of the year. Scarves, football games, autumn leaves…or in Orlando, indistinguishable from Summer except that it’s not quite so hot after dark. The humidity, on the other hand, is here to stay until December.

But we still love Fall, and up to and including the scarves, pumpkin spice lattes, and football. And what’s better in Fall than a heaping bowl of chili?

A bowl of healthy turkey chili, of course! My friend Kelsey makes a lentil soup that’s famous among our friend group. I once topped a bowl of this with a spoonful of chili, and was seized with an instant desire to combine the two. (I realize that there are many sorts of chili–like some chili doesn’t have beans? What?–but I’ve gone here for what I think is the most conventional kind.) Let’s do some food math:

Lentil soup = Lentils + veggies + chicken broth

Chili = Meat + beans + tomato

Healthy Turkey Chili packed with flavor and good-for-you ingredients! |

I wanted that thick, warm, comforting texture that really good chili has. Thus, this recipe is meat-and-beans based, with veggies chopped small so that, while they add flavor, they don’t detract from the texture. (I don’t like to talk about “hiding” vegetables, because that makes me sound like I’m four, but sometimes, I hide vegetables. From myself. Admitting this is a sign of adulthood, right?)

The combining of these two soups means that the ingredient list is a bit long, but don’t let that scare you off. It requires only one pot (okay, and one bowl) and after everything’s in, you walk away for an hour. That’s it. Maybe you make some cornbread while it’s simmering. Maybe you nap on the couch or catch up on your shows.

Healthy Turkey Chili packed with flavor and good-for-you ingredients! |

I hope you like this Healthy Turkey Chili, but if you want to try something a little different, check out one of these ideas!


  • Traditional Ground Beef chili: Switch out some or all of the turkey for ground beef.
  • Spicy Turkey Chili: Throw in a second jalapeno, or use the seeds.
  • Vegetarian Chili: Sub in meat substitute and vegetable broth
  • Slow Cooker Turkey Chili: Reduce the chicken broth to 2 cups and cook on High for 4 hours (caveat: I haven’t tested this, but the principle should work!)
  • Or serve over fries, hot dogs, or nachos. Game day = done.

What’s your favorite way to eat chili? Over fries? With steak and no beans? Let’s converse in the comments!

Inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s Simple, Perfect Chili and my good friend Kelsey’s lentil soup.


Healthy Turkey Chili

  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes




  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 3 celery sticks, diced small
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 small or 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 cans beans, drained (I used pinto and cannellini)
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 24 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Optional: 2 cups chopped kale or spinach
  • Optional: 1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Topping ideas

  • Tortilla chips
  • Light sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Chopped jalapeno
  • Green onions
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges


  1. In dutch oven or large pot, saute the veggies (carrot, celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic) over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Remove to a bowl.
  2. In the same pot, brown the turkey over medium heat with a little olive oil. Drain any excess grease.
  3. Add veggies and everything else to the pot. Stir well.
  4. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat. Simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Serve with your choice of toppings and, for extra credit, fresh cornbread.

The Burroughs

Katie and Robby Burroughs, writers, photographers, and curators of Bear and Bug Eats.

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