BBQ Turkey Chili

bbq turkey chili

BBQ turkey chili is a fall favorite in our home and you can enjoy it too! In an attempt to spice up our weeknight ground turkey, I took inspiration from some store-bought bbq sauce in our refrigerator.

Chili is a go-to meal in our home because it conveniently combines protein and vegetables in just one hearty bowl. I usually cook up this beef and vegetable chili. It’s packed with protein and delicious vegetables such as zucchini and mushrooms. But in an attempt to eat more lean meats, I decided to swap out the beef for some ground turkey.

Using ground turkey is a great way to get lean protein in your diet but it can be dry and flavorless. Spicing up the turkey with various spices and smoky sweet bbq sauce makes for a delicious bowl of chili.

I add frozen, sliced bell peppers for convenience and a vegetable boost. Top this chili with anything from sliced green onions to shredded cheddar cheese and enjoy hot from the stove.

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bbq turkey chili

BBQ Turkey Chili

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  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely diced 
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground turkey 
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add 1 teaspoon if you like heat)
  • ½ Cup bbq sauce 
  • 1, 28-ounce can plum tomatoes (such as san marzano)
  • 16 ounces frozen, sliced bell peppers (any color)
  • 2 Tablespoons cornmeal 
  • Optional garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, scallions, sour cream, guacamole, or lime wedges, corn chips for dunking


  1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the oil is beginning to ripple, add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, 8-10 minutes. 
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. 
  4. Add the turkey to the pot and use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small pieces. Cook over high heat until the turkey is no longer pink and the liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes. 
  5. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, until very fragrant 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the barbecue sauce and plum tomatoes to the pot. Fill the empty tomato can halfway with water, swirl it around and pour the water into the pot. 
  7. Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes and add 1 teaspoon salt to the pot.  
  8. Bring the chili to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. 
  9. Simmer, uncovered on lowest heat for 20 minutes. Stir the chili every 5 minutes or so to make sure the chili doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. 
  10. Empty the bag of frozen bell peppers into the pot and add the cornmeal. Bring back up to a simmer and simmer the chili uncovered until thick and delicious, 30-60 minutes. 
  11. Top with shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream and serve hot. 
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