A twist on the classic cornbread and chili, this Three Bean Turkey Chili is served over creamy Honey Jalapeño Grits for the perfect cold weather comfort food. With three types of canned beans, lean ground turkey and Mexican inspired spices, it’s hearty, healthy and ready in just about an hour. The grits are just as delicious. They’re savory and sweet with just a little kick from the jalapeño. Everything is also gluten free, easily made dairy free, vegetarian or vegan!
How to Make Three Bean Turkey Chili
Let’s start with a pretty basic chili recipe. It’s nothing fancy, but this Three Bean Turkey Chili does have a few key ingredients that make it my favorite recipe. First, sauté a yellow onion in a bit of olive oil before adding in the ground turkey. This allows the onion to soften and continue caramelizing as the turkey cooks. Go for dark meat turkey as this will add a richer flavor.
The turkey should only take a few minutes to brown, so you can go ahead and add in some garlic and chopped bell pepper, plus all the spices. I like my turkey chili to have a bit of texture, so the vegetables should only cook for a few minutes. Remember to salt as you go! When the whole pot starts smelling delicious from the toasted garlic and Mexican spices, add in a can of fire roasted tomatoes, all three cans of beans and some chicken stock. Also, a key ingredient: one tablespoon of dark brown sugar. A little extra sweetness is going to enhance the flavor of the tomatoes and make the chili taste almost like slow cooked baked beans.
Bring everything up a boil then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the chili for about 25 minutes to allow all the flavors to meld together and the broth to thicken. The last, but very important step is to cut the heat and stir in a couple spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar. A final hit of acid really elevates all the other flavors in the dish. Finally, taste for salt. It’s a big pot of chili, so be generous with your seasoning!
The Best Grits…
These Honey Jalapeño Grits are a twist on the classic chili cornbread combo. They’re creamy, a little sweet and the perfect base for our Three Bean Turkey Chili!
Grits are super easy to make on the stovetop. All you need is about a cup of dry yellow corn grits (sometimes labeled as polenta), any type of unflavored milk, jalapeños, olive oil and some good quality honey. Bring the milk to a boil along with a couple cups of water and then add the grits and jalapeño. Grits tend to clump up right when they go in the pot, so make sure to give everything a stir before reducing the heat. Cook the grits on low, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for about 20 minutes, until they become super thick and creamy.
When all the liquid has absorbed, add the honey, olive oil (or butter, your choice) and a good pinch of salt. Grits are not an exact science, so make sure to taste the final product to be sure its seasoned correctly. Add a little more honey if you like them sweeter or another splash of milk for a creamier consistency.
Tips and Substitutions
- This Three Bean Turkey Chili can easily be made vegetarian or vegan by omitting the ground turkey. The recipe already has three types of beans, so even without the meat, it will be super hearty and satisfying. For the grits, use olive oil or vegan butter and some sort of plantbased milk. I like soy-milk for something a little lighter, but full fat coconut milk will give you a much creamier texture.
- If you don’t have all three types of beans on hand, replace one or two with equal amounts of another. Other types of beans like white beans, chickpeas and cooked lentils would also be a great addition.
- Make sure to use stone ground grits, not instant grits. These have varying cook times and will result in a different texture.
More Recipes to Try:
- Chimichurri black bean breakfast tacos
- Honey Jalapeño Turkey Burgers
- Ginger peach meatballs with coconut rice
- Creamy pumpkin gnocchi
- Miso sweet potato carrot soup
- Grilled pesto chicken wraps