Cincinnati Chili Batch 11

This is my recipe number 11. I took the recipe that Kirk provided here which was derived from my batch 9. I took that version, added a couple things from batch 10 and went from there. Main changes are the addition of vanilla (thanks Ric) and the reduction by 1 cup of the water.

Click Read More to see the recipe and my tasting notes.

Cincinnati Chili (Skyline Style) attempt 11

2.5 lbs lean ground beef (extra fine grind if possible)
6 cups cold water

1 can tomato paste – (6 oz)
1 can tomato sauce – (8 oz)

1 oz bitter chocolate
5 whole cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp vanilla

1.5 tsp ground cumin
2.5 tbsp chili powder (dark)
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (powdered)
4 tsp kosher salt
2.5 tbsp ground black pepper
4 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp granulated garlic
4 bay leaves
1 tsp onion powder
3 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano

In 1 additional cup of hot water, add
2 tbsp active-dry yeast (bread maker type)
4 tbsp corn starch
and stir until smooth. Make sure there are no lumps before you add it to the chili or they will be impossible to remove.

Place water over medium heat and add the ground beef. Stir the ground beef into the cold water. Continue to stir as the water is heated. The ground beef will nearly dissolve into the water developing into almost a paste. Once dissolved, increase heat to high.

If you use frozen ground beef, let sit in the COLD water until it is matched the temp and it is no longer frozen. Failure to do this will result in lumpy chili.

Once the water is nearly boiling, add the other ingredients and continue to stir until the chili comes to a strong boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer.

Let simmer for 2 hours.

Serve as traditionally served or as you wish. I prefer over spaghetti with shredded cheese (3-way).

Notes on this recipe:

I had lots of scorching on the bottom of this batch — first time. Could it be the addition of the corn starch?

This batch is the closest yet. But it’s still not there. The sweet ingredients are just about right I think. Perhaps a little more vanilla.

Less Turmeric would be good. Needs a little more salt.

It is thicker than the real Skyline — perhaps I should add the water back in. It’s also hotter — I think I would reduce the black pepper and Cayenne Pepper if trying to make it exact. I like it hotter like this though.

My conclusion is that there is still something missing. Or there is something in this recipe that’s throwing the whole thing off.

Needs more work! I guess I should start compiling ideas for Batch 12.

Suggestions anyone?


Hi Beergeek,
Have you ever tried GoldStar Chili? It’s Cincinnati style but I’ve never had it. On their website you can get 24 10-ounce cans for $42.95. Don’t know how it compares to Skyline though…

Hello Beergeek!

I’m gonna try this recipe and get back to you, but if youre close keep on trying! I live 800 miles from Cincy now and I miss my chili like it was family!!! Skyline and Goldstar are foods of the Gods.. well Skyline is for the Gods, Goldstar for demiGods. I want so badly to be able to create a clone of this stuff.

Good luck!

Cinci Chili Nut… its not a bad deal for that Goldstar in a can BUT: its in a can… need I say more?

Still waiting to try this one. I have to contradict Mike, though. I think it’s a little rash to suggest that the majority of Cincinnatians prefer Goldstar. It’ll do in a pinch, but the pasta’s always cooked to oblivion, and the experience is just never as good.

I used an immersion blender with a chopping/blade attachment to mix the ground beef with the water in the first step, and it made it very nice and smooth. It also works well to get a nice consistent liquid with the yeast and corn starch.

A couple of questions:

What brand of kosher salt do you use? Different brands have different “strengths”, so it takes (for example) less Morton’s Kosher than other brands to be as salty.

Do you simmer with a lid or without?

Good idea with the stick blender. I need to pick another up — mine got lost in a move.

I use morton salt — but you should always lightly salt then do a final seasoning to taste.

I simmer with the lid on unless I want to thicken the chili even more.


Jeff: I spent a lot of a Bamix immersion blender, and it was well worth the money. It was designed for professional chefs, and it’s built like a tank. Check on ebay if you are interested.

BTW, thanks for all of the work and testing on this. I have to admit that I’ve never had “real” Cincinnati in my life, but your recipies have made me a convert.


Hi Beergeek —

Have you tried molasses and/or ginger yet? My wife and I are from Cincinnati, now living in Spokane, Washington, and miss Skyline bigtime. We bought and froze a gallon of the stuff when we were last there in January and brought it back (airport security almost made us throw it out!). We tried a clone recipe with some friends last night that we found online (not yours; hadn’t seen it yet), side by side with the real thing. It was only sorta close, but two things our friends “sensed” were lacking in the clone were molasses and possibly ginger, and we think we agree. We’ll give your #11 a try and get in on this quest to find perfect clone!

Okay, Beergeek, I told you I’d try it and get back to you. I added a tablespoon of yellow curry powder to batch #9, and I gotta tell you, it did good things. The color is closer, and the finish is starting to make a little more sense. I might double the amount next time. I don’t really get the yeast idea, and I definitely think the corn starch is the wrong way to go. The juices of the real stuff are just too thin to support that idea. I’ll keep tweaking…

Hey Beergeek!

I work for Skyline Chili, and I have lived in cinci all my life? Why are you trying to duplicate a process that cannot be duplicated!! I am telling you. NO ONE CAN DO 100% right. WHY? because its made at a closely guarded commisary outside of cincinnati. Legend has it that there is an actual “curing” process, and a many re-heat processes that skyline chili goes through before its even packaged into cans, or vats for the stores. Almost like a fine wine. Try flirting with the re-heat process, and the curing of the final product.

I’m trying to duplicate it becuase I now live in California and there are no Skyline restaurants anywhere near here. That, and it costs me $5/can to buy the chili from

It’s not the same, but it’s better then nothing!

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