Pittsburgh Chili

Pittsburgh Chili, recipe and photo by ANNA VOCINO, Eat Happy Kitchen

This might be one of the most popular recipes from my first cookbook Eat Happy. I married a man from Pittsburgh, so I call it Pittsburgh Chili. This is my homage to a wonderful city and the crazy great Steeler Nation. There’s lot of yelling in our house whenever the Steeler’s play (yelling is Italian for enthusiasm). The love of the Steelers over here is deep.
There’s no added sugar in this recipe, of course, and no beans, so it’s technically a low carb chili. It originally appears in the book using ground turkey, but you can use whatever ground meat strikes your fancy. These days I almost always make it using grass-fed ground beef as that’s now more widely available. You can use 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of sausage for extra deliciousness.
The addition of the zucchini and artichoke hearts make this a nutritional one-pot dish, and you can dress it up with sour cream, shredded cheese, or hot sauce to your liking.
I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve written me over the past decade saying they’ve won their chili cook-off using this recipe. It makes my heart sing.
We eat this chili three times a month during the winter. I’m not saying you have to eat it that often, but you just might want to.
Izzy Terrible Towel
  • To take this recipe to the next level, substitute one jar of Eat Happy Kitchen Tomato Basil Marinara in place of the canned tomatoes and tomato paste, plus omit the bouillon, and you’ll thank me later, I promise!
  • Also, if you can’t find bouillon without weird ingredients listed on the label, just use extra salt for flavor.
  • As mentioned above, use whatever meat/protein you’d like.

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Pittsburgh Five Way Chili


5 from 1 vote
Course Main Dishes, Soups/Stews
Cuisine Carnivore, Keto, Low Carb, NSNG


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 celery stalks thinly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large brown onion finely chopped
  • 2 pounds organic ground turkey or beef highest fat content possible
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 14- ounce cans organic diced tomatoes puréed in Vitamix®
  • 1/2 of a 6-ounce can organic tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/2 ounce dark chocolate finely chopped
  • For extra veggies you can add:
  • 4 oz can artichoke hearts drained and chopped (rough tops cut off and discarded)
  • 2 zucchini sliced
  • For garnish:
  • 2 cups grated Colby Jack or cheddar cheese Crème fraîche or sour cream


  • In a large pot, Le Creuset, Dutch oven, or slow cooker, heat olive oil. When shimmering, add the celery, garlic, and the chopped onion and sauté until softened. Add turkey, breaking up lumps of meat, until it loses its pink color.
  • Mix together chili powder, salt, cinnamon, basil, oregano, allspice, cumin, and pepper in a little bowl until well blended. Add this dry spice mix to the turkey. Cook and stir for about a minute.
  • Add the puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, the optional veggies, bouillon cube and the chocolate. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for about an hour.
  • Uncover and stir, letting chili simmer for another 1/2 hour.
  • Place the grated cheese and crème fraîche in separate bowls. Serve chili and let everyone choose their own toppings.
  • If Making In A Slow Cooker:
  • Sauté the onions, garlic, and celery, then brown the turkey in a sauté pan. Mix together all dry spices in a little bowl until well blended. Add the dry spice mix to the turkey, cook and stir for about a minute. Transfer mixture to the slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients, stir. Cook on the high setting for 2 hours. Serve.


  • To take this recipe to the next level, substitute one jar of Eat Happy Kitchen Tomato Basil Marinara in place of the canned tomatoes and tomato paste, plus omit the bouillon, and you’ll thank me later, I promise!
  • Also, if you can’t find bouillon without weird ingredients listed on the label, just use extra salt for flavor.
  • As mentioned above, use whatever meat/protein you’d like.
Keyword celiac
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  • Anonymous / Reply

    Anna … Thank you. Love it!!! Made mine in the crock pot. So easy and delicious.

  • I'm so glad!! I endeavor that all of my recipes should be easy to make and delicious. Hope to see you here again soon, fwiend…

    • This really is awesome. I doctor it up w/as much Zuchinni and Artichoke Hearts as I can stand. My recipes these days 1) take less than 30 minutes active, 2) healthy, 3) freezable, eg, make large quantitites, 4) tasty, of course and I suppose 5) Logistically easy, no weird ingredients, or at least stuff you already havie lying around so you only need to buy a few things on next trip. eg, I buy dark chocolate bars for direct consumption so likely i already have that ingredient.

      And this hits all five pretty squarely, for a while I was on a pretty good jag for this too.

      • James, it sounds like you and I have the same cooking philosophy. So glad you enjoyed this recipe, it’s one of my faves for 20 years now!

  • Gay Miller / Reply

    I did raise an eyebrow at some of the ingredients in this recipe but trusted Anna. She hasn’t let me down yet. It was fabulous! Can’t wait for your cookbook to be published!

  • Dawn Kowalski / Reply

    I made this chili recipe in our crock pot yesterday. I didn’t have any cumin but went for it any way. I am so glad I did! My family really enjoyed it. This one’s a keeper! Thank you, Anna!!

  • Made this today hubs is at day 3 of a local hockey tournament and knew he’d be needing somethingshearty and warm as it just stared snowing. I made mine with venison and zucchini – came out awesome. My kitchen smells delish! Such an interesting combination of seasoning.

  • I just made a double batch that we served at a holiday party. A number of our guests asked for the recipe. I told them about ‘Eat Happy’ and recommended they buy it.

    One suggestion I’d like to make for this recipe: I like to use a coarse cheese grater on the zucchinis to make them into “strings” instead of chopping them. It sounds silly, but it seems to create a more hardy stew.

    • Rich, thanks so much for recommending the book!! And that’s a GREAT idea for the zucchini!!!

  • I love this chili! I sautee red green and yellow peppers with the onions. Very hearty and tasty!

  • Jan Ross / Reply

    Anna I’m looking for the carb count in this recipe if I make it exactly to your specifications minus the chocolate. I plan to make it tomorrow. I bought this book on the recommendation from my daughter and son in law – Dan and Kim Bower. They told me that you Tweet with them….cool.

    • Hi Jan-
      I state in Eat Happy that I don’t count carbs or fat grams, and I purposefully don’t have carb counts so as to do my part to put an end to diet mentality. I cut out sugars and grains (and most dairy), and I trust my hunger signals. However there are numerous websites where you can copy and paste the ingredients of any recipe on the internet and get the full nutritional profile, including macros and calories. And then hopefully after a little while of eating this way, you’ll begin to see that you don’t need to count any more b/c you can trust that your body knows when to tell you to stop eating if you’re feeding it real food!
      I do hope you enjoy the heck outta the book!

  • TaRa Bloom / Reply

    This is the best tasting chili I have every tasted. I have made this several times and always invite some friends over to share. The addition of the chocolate combined with the spices makes this a most interesting and powerful taste experience. I always give a serving for my guests to take home. One of my friends said, “You know how chili is always better the next day. Well this surpasses that phrase as the 2nd and 3rd day increased the awesome taste.”

  • TaRa Bloom / Reply

    Oh, there is more to my previous comment. I always add the artichoke hearts and zucchini. What an amazing chili. I crave it and hope I don’t get tired of it. So try to space it out. Thank you,


    • Awww, TaRa, you just made my DAY!! I agree. I love this chili too. And I’ve been making it 20 years, so I know to space it out so I don’t get tired of it. I think everyone who’s ever been to my house has had that chili, I know it by heart!

  • Carbage Man / Reply

    First snow this season, and immediately thought of this. Mixed in the zucchini and some habanero Ro-tel, which made it nice and spicy! Really enjoyed the seasoning. I doubt anyone would suspect it’s “diet food.” 😉

    • ooooh habanero Ro-Tel sounds like an amazing tweak!!

      • Carbage Man / Reply

        It came out great! It’s snowing again (not a lot, should be done late tonight) and time to make more.

        Today I’m making it without the zucchini but with five big fat jalapeño peppers, four small habanero peppers and green chili rotel. More carbs than I expected in the peppers when I calculated, but they’re not horrible carbs.

        Incidentally, last time I had the frozen leftovers, I scooped most of it out of the bowl with stalks of celery (I was lacking potassium) and it paired well.

  • THIS IS NOT PITTSBURGH CHILI. Chocolate is an abomination! Cincy is WRONG. Add some spaghetti and call it a day.

    • HAHAHAHA! Maybe zucchini noodles?
      XOXO, Russ!!

      • Posted after too many beers. My parents were/are from San Antonio. I take chili very seriously. Lived in Cincy briefly as a child. Skyline is not chili. It’s a regional variation like that disgusting mutton BBQ they make in Kentucky. Just sayin’.

        • Put your beer goggles back on and make the Red and Green Chili Chili in Eat Happy Too. You will get through this.

  • 5 stars
    This is delicious! The spice blend is what really make the dish. Suggest topping with sour cream.

  • This turned out great! I used the instant pot, so instead of 2 hrs in the crock pot, I did 20 mins high pressure and then 10 mins natural pressure release.

    • oooh I’m so glad you shared your IP instructions as folks ask me that all the time.
      So happy you loved the chili!

  • Hands down one of your favorite meals!!

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