Do You Know the Interesting Truth About Cincinnati Chili?

Pamela’s Recipe of the Week: Skyline Cincinnati Chili 

We’re turning our attention towards the Superbowl coming up on Sunday, February 5th. Pamela recommends the following Cincinnati Chili recipe from Skyline to keep your party prep simple and delicious!

But first, a little background and history on this dish…


Cincinnati Chili was developed in the 1920s by Greek-Macedonian immigrant restaurateurs in the greater Cincinnati area. They wanted to “Americanize” their ethnic cuisine and attract more customers.

Many people aren’t aware that unlike chili con carne, it has a soup like consistency and wasn’t created to be eaten straight from a bowl (see recipe below.) It was developed as a topping for spaghetti and “coneys” the name given to hot dogs by the immigrants.

The ingredients of Cincinnati Chili are:

  • ground beef
  • stock
  • tomato paste
  • Mediterranean spice – cinnamon, cloves, allspice, chocolate 

Several popular chili parlor chain restaurants were established over the years with Empress being the largest. In 1949 Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides, a former Empress employee opened his own business and named it Skyline. By 2015 there were 130 locations, while Empress had only two remaining chili parlors.  

Other favored toppings are cheese, onions, and beans. Specific combinations are called “ways” and are used in the chili parlors. 


According to the Way System of ordering the     number determines the ingredients:

  • 2 Way – Spaghetti topped with chili
  • 3 Way – Spaghetti topped with chili and cheese
  • 4 Way – Spaghetti topped with chili, cheese, and onions
  • 5 Way – Spaghetti topped with chili, cheese, onions, and beans

There are slight variations among different chains, so check the menu if you ever visit one of these chili parlors!


  • 1 package of chili
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1.5 lbs. of thawed lean ground beef
  • 1 bag of oyster crackers
  • 1 bag or brick of Tillamook mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 white onion


The trick to making great chili is cooking time and temperature coupled with the consistency of the ground beef.

  1. In a large pot add 6 cups of water, 1 small can of tomato paste and the chili mix.
  2. Wash your hands, because you are going to be putting them in the pot.
  3. Add the ground beef into the mixture, but shred it as finely as you can while it’s in the water. You want as thin a consistency as possible. This is why it’s important that the meat is thawed. Do not brown the meat.
  4. Next turn on the heat, beat mixture with a fork, and let boil for 1 minute.
  5. Then reduce to a rolling simmer. Let it simmer like this uncovered for about 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Use a wooden spoon for best results.
  6. After about 45 minutes turn the heat down to a light simmer for another 20 minutes. You can tell it’s ready for the heat reduction when you stir and the chili starts to bubble out of the pot.
  7. After the 20 minutes remove the pot from the stove. Let is stand for 10 minutes. You don’t want it too hot because you don’t want the cheese to melt into it.

Click here to get more Cincinnati Chili Mix recipes for your Superbowl Party:

  • Cincinnati Recipe Cheddar Popcorn
  • Cincinnati Recipe Cheese Crackers
  • Cincinnati Recipe Pastry Twists
  • Cincinnati Recipe Chicken Wings

Photo credits: Skyline Cincinnati Chili Mix

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