This Terrific Turkey Chili with Black Beans has just the right amount of sweetness and smoky flavor, thanks to a little barbecue sauce. This has been my go-to chili recipe for years!
You're going to want to save this ground turkey chili recipe. Everyone I know who's tried it has made it again and again for their families.
That's just what I was going for when I first created it! I was trying to please my entire household, despite everyone having different chili preferences.
Some like it hot and spicy (hi, Guys!) Some prefer it mild (hey, Baby Girl!), some like it a little sweet (hey, that's me!) and some never want beans to be included (there's my Picky Eater!)
This BBQ chili provides a delicious base that's full of flavor from the ground turkey, onions, red peppers, hint of barbecue sauce and perfect blend of spices that provides a touch of heat. Ground turkey is more flavorful than beef, and I even make turkey meatballs with it!
The black beans add a nice accent and texture, but can be withheld until the bean haters take a serving. (I got you!)
And..heat seekers can kick things up a notch by adding red pepper flakes, if desired.
Meat: While ground turkey provides the best taste, you could use ground beef, pork or chicken instead.
Bell peppers: You could add yellow or orange ones instead of red, for nearly identical taste. These colorful peppers are all sweeter than green peppers, and perfectly complement the sweetness from the barbecue sauce. But, you could substitute green peppers for a more savory option.
Beans: Black beans are my absolute favorite and are key to a black bean chili recipe! But...I'll forgive you if you need to omit them or substitute something like kidney beans or Great Northern beans. Use what you like!
BBQ Sauce: You can use a homemade one or my family's favorite, Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce (affiliate link).
How to make the best turkey chili
All the action happens in one pot. You'll sauté an onion, brown the ground turkey, then scoop out some of the liquid fat.
You'll add red peppers, then canned, peeled tomatoes. You can break up the tomatoes with a potato masher or use a fork and knife to cut them up right in the pot.
Next, you'll mix in the BBQ sauce, seasonings and black beans. Finally, you'll let the chili cook for 30 minutes.
How to serve it
I always serve this in soup bowls, topped with freshly shredded cheddar. The chili is perfect with a side of corn and a green salad, but you could serve it over rice, if you prefer.
Other chili toppings to try include:
- Sour cream
- Tortilla chips
How to store it
Refrigerate the leftovers in a sealed container for up to four days. You also could freeze the chili portioned out in freezer bags, with the air pressed out.
Reheat the leftovers in the microwave before serving.
More recipes like this
- Homemade Taco Dip
- Italian Meatloaf with Chicken or Turkey
- Italian Stuffed Peppers
- Pasta with Bolognese Sauce
- Cheese-Stuffed Meatloaf
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C. Originally published on October 16, 2014 and updated now with new photos and text.)
Terrific Turkey Chili with Black Beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey (or beef, chicken, pork)
- 1 medium onion (yellow, white or red)
- 1 red bell pepper (or yellow, orange; see notes)
- 28- ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
- ¼ cup barbecue sauce
- 3 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon + ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ⅓ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, for extra heat)
- 15- ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed)
- Shredded cheddar for serving (optional)
- Red pepper flakes for serving
- Peel and chop the onion. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium high. Add the onions and cook until they're tender, stirring occasionally.
- While the onions are cooking, rinse the red pepper and pat it dry. Cut out the stem, then cut the pepper in half to remove the seeds and membrane. Cut the red pepper into ¾-inch pieces.
- When the onions are soft, add the ground meat to the pan and break it up with a cooking spoon, stirring to combine with the onions. Cook the turkey until it is no longer pink. Use a ladle to scoop out about ½ cup of the liquid fat and discard it. (Leave some fat for flavor.)
- With a clean spoon, stir the red peppers into the pot and let them cook for a minute. Add the canned tomatoes (including any liquid). Use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes a bit (or cut them up with a fork and knife).
- Stir in the barbecue sauce and chili powder, salt, cumin, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Add the drained beans and stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, loosely covered. You can use a wooden spoon resting on the edge of the pot to prop open the lid. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Serve chili with shredded cheddar and red pepper flakes at the table, if desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days, or freeze them.
- shredded cheddar
- sour cream
- tortilla chips
I enjoy the recipes you post. Thank you.
I had mentioned I didn’t know how to leave a rating. I kept scrolling towards the bottom of your website page and found where I could leave a rating. 😊
Hi Alicia - Thanks so much for your comment and star rating! I'm glad you enjoyed the chili and my other recipes you've tried.
My family loves chili but I always thought my recipe was too basic. I absolutely LOVE this recipe! The BBQ sauce really makes the difference here. I’m happy to say that now I make amazing chili thanks to you! I may even enter my friend’s annual chili cook off for the first time with this one. I usually just bring a side 🤣
Hi Michele - I love hearing that! I hope you do enter the chili cook off! Thanks so much for the review.
Mary M. Martinez
This looks wonderful. Thanks for this
I hope you try it, Mary. It's my go-to chili recipe.
I have been meaning to tell you that I have made your chili recipe twice and my high school senor prefers it to my crockpot recipe. She calls your chili "the good chili recipe". We like the beans.
Merry Christmas season. Mia Zaper
Mia, I'm so happy to hear your daughter likes this chili! It's the only chili my daughter will eat. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!
Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine
This chili looks wonderful. I love the addition of red pepper.
Thanks, Chris. Red peppers are one of my favorite vegetables.
I'm with your daughter! No beans! The only exception is Waffle House chili, which is more like a soup and has little pinto beans that just really well with the sausage they use for the meat. It's so hard this time of year to avoid the sweets. Yesterday at work, they had some dessert extravaganza right outside my office. I mean, come onnn, at least give me a fighting chance to not weigh 800 pounds by New Years!
I can't resist dessert either, if it's there. (This is why I have to exercise.) A dessert extravaganza sounds incredible!