How to Make Cincinnati Skyline Chili

In the early 1900s, Cincinnati received a large population of immigrants, all from both Greek and Macedonian. Two brothers, Tom and John Kiradijeff opened a restaurant called the Empress chili parkour in the year 1922. They remade the version of the Greek stew and seasoned it with Mediterranean spices and decided to name it chili.

What makes it Cincinnati style?

  1. The seasoning: the Cincinnati chili, is mostly cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder.
  2. No browning: by sautéing with oil, it would give the chili an authentic flavor, it will counter everything you know about building up flavors in stew and soup.
  3. Toppings: never add beans as your topping for a Cincinnati chili stew, you can add beans to a regular chili but not a Cincinnati chili.

Different ways to serve the Cincinnati chili

  • 2-way: This is a chili that is served over a portion of spaghetti.
  • 3-way: this is served over spaghetti added with shredded cheddar cheese.
  • 4-way: This is a chili served over spaghetti with shredded cheddar cheese and onions.
  • 5-way: This is a chili served over spaghetti with canned kidneys,  onions, and finally shredded cheddar cheese.

What about sides?

Currently, there are no traditional sides other than the usual oysters and crackers.


  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 6 Ounces of tomato paste
  • 4 cups of water
  • 8 ounce of tomato sauce
  • 1 large onion (minced)
  • 6 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon of ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne
  • 2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of an apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate (optional)


Start cooking the tomato paste

You can start by heating a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a large amount of tomato paste to the dry pot and cook. Then, you can begin stirring with a wooden spatula continuously until you smell the toasty aroma.

Combine all the ingredients into a pot

Now, remove the hot pot from the heat and add your ground beef and water, mixing them into a sludge may look messy but keep turning it.  You can return the pot to medium heat and keep stirring to a simmer, now watch the sludge break up to a paste.

Simmer gently for 2 to 3 hours

Continuously stir to make the whole chili reduce a bit

Cool to room temperature and refrigerate

When refrigerating, you would need to keep it in an air-tight container.

De-fatting the chilli

The next day, you would notice excess fat above the whole chili. You can begin scrapping those fats off it and discard it.

Warm and serve

You can now bring it to a simmer and then add your vinegar and chocolate. Keep in mind that the chocolate won’t make the chili any sweeter, but it would give it some complexity, now you can serve your chili.