Bean Free Turkey Chili

Even though I’m cutting back on starchy grains and beans, I still enjoy a hearty bowl of chili, In fact, many people would say that beans don’t belong in chili at all. I love that you can vary the ingredients and toppings, and everyone can have it the way they like it!

There are so many variations in chili recipes. You can make it with chunks of meat rather than ground, you can soften and blend whole dried chili peppers, add beer or broth instead of tomatoes, add cinnamon or chocolate, or serve it over macaroni.

In my version, I keep it pretty simple, using the basic chili powder blend that you can find in any grocery store. Note that this already has salt added, which is why I only add a small amount of salt in addition to the chili powder.

I start by sauteing 2 pounds of ground turkey. Then I like to bulk up the vegetable content by adding minced mushrooms, diced onions and roasted red peppers. Fresh garlic and a jalapeno pepper go in next.

Then I add the dried spices, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, as well as 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, which give it a smoky, spicy kick. I also add 2 cans of diced tomatoes and 2 small cans of tomato sauce. You can substitute broth or beer for the tomato sauce if you prefer, or add less to make a thicker chili.

One tip for using canned chipotle chilies…plop the whole contents of the can in a blender, then portion it out into tablespoon-size servings and freeze. Then whenever you need some spicy chili flavor you can take a frozen chunk and add to whatever dish you’re making.

One more tip…all chili recipes benefit from simmering for at least an hour so that all the flavors have time to develop. It even tastes better the next day, and freezes well so that you can make a big batch and have it ready anytime you have a taste for it.

Bean-Free Turkey Chili

Servings:  8

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey, preferably organic
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of button mushrooms, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 3 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce from a can, minced
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil and ground turkey.  Saute for a few minutes until starting to brown.  Add the mushrooms, onions, and jalapeno and continue cooking until soft, and liquid has mostly evaporated.   Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.    

Add all remaining ingredients, bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour.   

Serve with toppings of your choice:  shredded cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, scallions, or hot sauce.

Variations:  Use a blend of meats, ground beef or pork.  Use less tomato sauce if you like it really thick, or substitute beer for the tomato sauce.  Add cayenne or more chilies if you like it spicier.

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