Secret Ingredient Turkey Chili

Easy Turkey Chili is the perfect weeknight dinner, and it’s also great for tailgating on Game Day. Filled with ground turkey, tender black beans, and a special secret ingredient, this homemade chili is irresistible!

Looking for more chili recipes? You have to try my most favorite Chili Recipe!!

Turkey chili with sour cream and cheese.

This Is the Easiest Turkey Chili Recipe Ever!

I’m coming to you with a really unique dinner idea this week: Turkey Chili.

Okay… so it’s not that unique… and you’ve probably made it like 1,000 times… but this version of homemade turkey chili is really unique. Why? Because it has Dr. Pepper in it! 

When you think ‘chili,’ sweet and spicy doesn’t usually come to mind – at least for me. But it should have before now, because this sweet and spicy chili is SO delicious. It’s got all the other essential components, of course: tender beans, perfectly cooked meat, etc. But the addition of the Dr. Pepper in place of chicken broth or water adds this extra spicy sweetness that is unmatched!

And did I mention it only takes an hour to make? Get started now, and then you’ll have time for a batch of cornbread, too!  

What Makes This Turkey Chili So Good?

Why should you make this chili? There are so many ways to answer that question. The rich taste. The melted cheese on top of the juicy meat and tender beans. The easy process behind making this dinner reality. 

  • It’s Healthy: I know it has soda in it… but it also has ground turkey, which contains less saturated fat than ground beef does. (You can also use lean ground turkey to make it even healthier.) And it has lots of beans that offer extra protein. See? Healthy.
  • It’s Filling: Chili is such a hearty meal! It’s packed with ground turkey, beans, diced tomatoes, onion, and a rich broth. You can be sure that there will be no complaints of an empty stomach after dinner.
  • It’s Classic Comfort Food! There’s really nothing like a good bowl of chili. When it’s cold out it warms you right up, and in the summer it makes you look forward to fall. Plus, even picky eaters won’t say no to a bowl when they smell it wafting from the kitchen. 

Ok, So What’s the Secret Ingredient?

Dr. Pepper! Like I said above, this adds a spicy sweetness that really adds a layer of flavor that makes this my favorite chili recipe. You could also use Cola or Root Beer in place of the Dr. Pepper!

Bowl of Dr. Pepper turkey chili.

What You’ll Need

What do you need to put this chili together? Basically, you’ll need standard chili ingredients plus a little Dr. Pepper. But here’s a more in-depth explanation:

  • Olive Oil: Or another cooking oil of your choice.
  • Onion: I used 1 medium yellow onion, diced.
  • Garlic: Minced.
  • Ground Turkey Meat: Any kind is fine. Personally, I try to use ground turkey on the leaner side so that there isn’t a ton of extra fat or grease.
  • Seasoning: You’ll need kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, taco seasoning, and dry Ranch seasoning. You can get creative with more spices too if you’re feeling adventurous like oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, or smoked paprika!
  • Soda: I like to use Dr Pepper, but Root Beer will also work well.
  • Tomato Sauce: Use a sauce on the plainer side because the seasoning in this chili will do the work of flavoring it.
  • Black Beans: Drained and rinsed. You can also use kidney beans or pinto beans!
  • Diced Tomatoes: I used 1 (10 – ounce) can of diced tomatoes and green chilis (like Ro-tel), undrained.

How to Make Ground Turkey Chili

This turkey chili is made in 2 easy steps! It’s really that simple. One of the best parts of making chili is that it feeds a crowd, but there’s not an exhausting amount of work involved. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Heat a Large Dutch Oven Over Medium Heat: Add in the olive oil and onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add in the garlic and ground turkey and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until cooked through and no pink remains. Drain an excess liquid from the pot and season the meat with salt and pepper.

Add the Rest of the Ingredients: Add in the Dr. Pepper, tomato sauce, beans, diced tomatoes, chili powder, garlic powder, taco seasoning, and Ranch seasoning. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes until thickened. Serve warm.

Can You Substitute Ground Beef for Ground Turkey?

Absolutely yes! You certainly can use a lean ground beef in this recipe instead of turkey…it will be great!

Pot of turkey chili with black beans.

Tips for Success

How’s that for an easy dinner? Slight edit: How’s that for an easy dinner that the whole family will devour? 

Here are a couple of tips that will ensure you get the best results with your chili:

  • Ground Turkey Substitutions: I tend to stick to ground turkey, but you can use ground beef, ground chicken, or some other kind of ground meat. Whatever you like! 
  • Can You Make This In The Slow Cooker / Crock Pot? The answer is yes and no. I don’t love making chili in the slow cooker as much because I really like how it thickens and reduces with the stovetop method, amping up the flavor up when making it on the stove top. BUT make this ahead and reheat and serve in the slow cooker…that’s a fantastic option!
  • Make this Chili Ahead: Chili tastes good when it’s steaming hot, right out of the pot, but it tastes even better when it’s had time to sit in the fridge. The flavors have more time to blend together when you prepare it this way.

Serving Suggestions & Favorite Chili Toppings:

Wondering what to serve with your turkey chili? Then wonder no more! I have the answers. (Or at least some of them.) These are some of my go-to sides/add-ins:

  • Sour Cream: Add a dollop of sour cream to each bowl of chili before serving – a little dairy takes this chili over the top!
  • Cheddar Cheese: Fresh grated cheese on chili is so good!
  • Cornbread: What is chili without a little homemade cornbread to go with it? I highly recommend this Creamy Cheesy Cornbread if you don’t already have a go-to recipe.
  • Tortilla Chips: If cornbread isn’t your thing, enjoy your chili with some crunchy tortilla chips. Other plain chips or crackers will work too.
  • Salad: A light green salad is the perfect healthy side to this homemade chili.
  • Garlic knots: These homemade garlic knots are easy to make and full of flavor!

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Store this chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. you can reheat it by the bowl in the microwave or larger amounts on the stove top.

Can I Freeze This?

Absolutely, you can. Freeze your turkey chili in an airtight container or tightly-sealed freezer bag for up to 3 months. Remember to let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating and eating again.

Print

Dr. Pepper Turkey Chili

  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield Yield: serves 6 1x
  • Category Category: Chili
  • Method Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine Cuisine: Dinner

Description:

Easy Turkey Chili is the perfect weeknight dinner, and it’s also great for tailgating on Game Day. Filled with ground turkey, tender black beans, and a now-not-so-secret secret ingredient, this homemade chili is irresistible!


Scale

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 (12- ounce) can Dr Pepper or Root Beer
  • 1 (28- ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15- ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (10 – ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chilis (like Rotel), undrained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (1- ounce) packet taco seasoning (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 (1- ounce packet dry Ranch seasoning (3 tablespoons)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add in the garlic and ground turkey and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until cooked through and no pink remains. Drain an excess liquid from the pot and season the meat with salt and pepper.
  2. Add in the Dr. Pepper, tomato sauce, beans, diced tomatoes, chili powder, garlic powder, taco seasoning, and Ranch seasoning. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes until thickened.
  3. Serve warm.

Notes:

Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

352
14.3 g
1052.8 mg
11.9 g
33.5 g
28.7 g
78.2 mg

Keywords: dr pepper chili, turkey chili recipe, easy turkey chili

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Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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Sherri
October 19, 2021 3:43 pm

This recipe was a total surprise winner. It was perfect! Would definitely make again.

Julie
September 25, 2021 12:50 pm

This was delicious! The only change I’ll make the next time (and there will be a next time) will be to use mild Rotel. Easy to make and we loved the flavor.

Heather Koogler
September 20, 2021 4:15 pm

I love turkey chili! Eager to try it with your secret ingredient. Are those little fried corn cakes in the photos? Those look delicious as well.

Last edited 2 months ago by Heather Koogler
Jenny
September 20, 2021 10:38 am

This looks amazing and I’ll be making it very soon! Just wondering, do you think Diet Dr. Pepper could be used? Or is the magic in the real deal soda? Obviously, I know the sweetness would be missing, but would it noticeably affect the results? Thanks!

Dawn Kalejta
September 20, 2021 10:25 am

Would it work if I used diet Dr. Pepper instead?

Last edited 2 months ago by Dawn Kalejta
Dawn Kalejta
September 20, 2021 5:21 pm
Reply to  Shelly

Thanks, can’t wait to try it!!!

Pixie
September 20, 2021 10:05 am

Sounds really good. Could also be a secret ingredient for Sloppy Joe’s. Pinning to my “list”now.

Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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