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Turkey Basil Chili

To be honest January is one of my least favorite months of the year. It’s rainy, its cold and it’s gray. The only good thing about January, aside from my mother in-law’s birthday, is that this rainy, cold, gray weather is perfect for making chili. Which is exactly what I did this past weekend. However, in the spirit of eating healthier in the New Year this scrumptious tummy warming chili is made with turkey instead of ground beef and gets a little touch of sweetness from some basil and a kick from some jalapeno.

I got the idea to make this chili after trying some chicken chili at a local lunch spot. It is important to note that I did not have my heart set on chicken chili when I went to get my lunch. You see, I crave the old fashioned chili at this particular place. But a couple of weeks ago when I went in to get my weekly chili, they weren’t serving it. Instead along side split pea and chicken noodle, they had a chicken and basil chili.

At first I hesitated. Where was my chili? I had been craving that chili all day. I did not want chicken in my chili. Let alone any basil, who puts basil in chili anyway? This was supposed to be a quick run in and grab kind of lunch, but now I had to make a decision. A decision that could change the whole rest of the day.

Okay, so maybe I am over dramatizing it just a tad. It really didn’t take me more than a couple of minutes before I determined that I wasn’t really in a split pea or chicken noodle kind of mood, I opted to try the chicken and basil chili. And I’m pretty glad I did. It was absolutely delicious and I was surprised that I had never thought to add basil to chili before.

When I decided to make this at home, I was going to use ground chicken, but alas my grocery store did not have any so I opted for ground turkey. If you have ground chicken you can use that instead.

overhead of turkey basil chili in white bowl.

Turkey Basil Chili

Nothing warms up a cold January day like a pot of chili simmering on the stove. Try this lighter version with ground turkey and basil.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 25 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings



  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 2 jalapenos diced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15.5 ounce can chili beans in zesty tomato sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 5 fresh basil leaves


  • In a large soup pot or dutch oven, combine ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin and garlic powder. Cook over medium heat until turkey is cooked through. Strain and set aside.
  • In the same pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapenos and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Return turkey to pan. Stir to combine.
  • Pour in fire roasted tomatoes, chili beans and their liquid, and tomato sauce. Stir in dried basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 hours. Stirring and tasting occasionally. Adjust seasoning with salt if needed.
  • Just before serving, roll basil leaves tightly together and then chop to make basil chiffonade. Sprinkle into chili and stir to combine.
  • Ladle chili into soup bowls. Serve.


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Keywords: chili, comfort food, ground turkey, turkey chili

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

  • Reply
    October 26, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    This was great – I used a tiny bit more chili powder & cumin only because I don’t measure well :-) I also didn’t use the jalapenos b/c I’m a baby when it comes to spice. I used mild peppers instead. I typically hate left overs and I’m really excited to eat this again tomorrow! Thanks for a great recipe, I’m going to browse the rest right now!

    • Reply
      October 29, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      So happy to hear that you enjoyed this! :)

  • Reply
    February 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Just made this recipe as written. It was delicious. It’s made my family’s keeper list!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I came across your blog when looking for ground turkey recipes and everything looks SO good! I can’t wait to try this chili! Keep up the cookin’ and the recipes comin’!!!! Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    made this last night… and it was wonderful… then we made Hot Dogs for March Madness and I couldn’t resist…. I had a chili dog!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    trying this friday.. have a huge bin of basil so excited to use it.

  • Reply
    October 7, 2010 at 8:23 am

    A dear friend turned me on to your blog after preparing your kung pao chicken for me. I have been hooked ever since. Kung pao chicken is now a regular request in our home. My 10 year old loves its spiciness. I have since tried other recipes… carne asada tacos (on the grill). My husband walked into the kitchen as I was finishing up the marinade for the steak…”this kitchen smells greats, whatcha makin’?” Needless to say, this is also going to be repeated. For dinner last night, we had the turkey basil chili. Again, a huge success. I have never had such a positive reaction from my family when experimenting with new recipes. Thank you so much! Can’t wait to try more. We’ll soon be trying the roasted pork tenderloin and the chicken lettuce wraps. Would sure love to see a recipe for chicken tortilla soup.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Very interesting recipe. I also enjoy using turkey. I will give this a try.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for catching that Ulrike! Add the remaining cumin at the same time that you add the dried basil. :)

  • Reply
    February 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    This is as good as it sounds! I am just about done making it. However, I think the remaining 1/2 tsp cumin was forgotten. When does it go in?

  • Reply
    January 12, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Wow turkey basil chili! All my favorite ingredients!! Love it!

  • Reply
    marla {Family Fresh Cooking}
    January 5, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I just did a chicken and basil dish over here. I love this flavor combo, hadn’t thought to do it in chili though. Must try, looks great!

  • Reply
    January 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

    wow! I just made chili last night but I’m loving your lighter and healthier version. I need to put basil in chili next time because I’m very intrigued with kind of flavor it contributes to the chili.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2010 at 7:43 am

    That sounds great! I wonder if I could use frozen basil? I have a bunch in the freezer from the summer surplus.

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

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