Transform your Thanksgiving leftovers into a cozy and comforting meal with this easy leftover turkey chili recipe. It's a perfect blend of warmth and flavor, ideal for chilly evenings and making the most out of your holiday feast.
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If you’ve been looking for a new leftover turkey recipe, this leftover turkey chili is a definite must-try.
Loaded with protein from the turkey and beans and simply brimming with flavor, this is a perfect way to jazz up those Thanksgiving leftovers.
I love to serve it with tortilla chips, but it’s also great over rice or with a side of your favorite cornbread.
This leftover turkey bean chili is also super easy to make — don’t let the ingredient list put you off because this is mostly a hands-off recipe.
Why you’ll love this leftover turkey chili
- It’s loaded with protein from the turkey and beans, plus loads of nutritious veggies.
- The best thing about it is that it’s incredibly versatile — you can easily switch up the veggies, beans and spices to adapt it to your taste.
- It tastes even better the next day, so it’s an excellent recipe for meal prep.
What goes into turkey chili
Onion — Yellow or white onions are perfect in this chili. I like to dice it finely so I don’t end up with large chunks in the chili.
Celery stalks — These add a nice crunch and extra texture to the chili.
Bell pepper — Any color works here, but red or green are best for that pop of color.
Garlic — Use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
Tomato paste — I like to add some concentrated tomato paste for richness and depth.
Red kidney beans — I went with red kidney beans but you can use whatever type you like. Black beans and pinto beans are all excellent choices.
Sweetcorn — This adds a sweet touch to the chili. You can use canned, fresh or frozen corn.
Cooked turkey meat — Leftover Thanksgiving turkey works great in this chili. Simply shred it and add it to the chili.
Leftover rotisserie chicken is a good substitution if you’re making this outside the holiday season.
Crushed tomatoes — Try to use the best quality canned tomatoes you can for the best flavor and texture.
Cocoa powder — The secret ingredient that adds depth of flavor to just about any tomato-based chili.
Brown sugar — A bit of brown sugar balances the acidity of the tomatoes.
Chicken stock — If you have homemade turkey stock from Thanksgiving, you can definitely use that. Otherwise, any chicken stock would do.
How to make chili with leftover turkey
In a large pot, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery, and red bell pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are softened.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
Add the drained and rinsed red kidney beans and sweetcorn to the pot together with the shredded turkey and crushed tomatoes. Stir well to combine.
Add the unsweetened cocoa powder and brown sugar, then stir in the chicken broth.
Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until thickened to your liking.
Stir in the fresh coriander and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve the chili hot with tortilla chips, over rice or with a side of cornbread.
Leftovers and storage
- Cool the chili to room temperature and then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To reheat, place the chili in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it's thoroughly warmed.
- Freeze the chili in a freezer-safe container or airtight ziplock bags for up to 2-3 months.
Recipe notes and tips
- This is not a very spicy chili as written, but you can easily adapt the spiciness level to suit your taste. Increase the amount of cayenne pepper or add diced chiles, fresh jalapeño, or red chili flakes.
- Feel free to add extra veggies such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin or butternut squash to make the leftover turkey chili even more nutritious.
- If your chili is too thick, add a bit more chicken stock. If it's too thin, let it simmer longer without the lid to reduce.
- Serve the turkey chili with a variety of toppings like sour cream, shredded cheese, lime juice, chopped green onions, or cilantro.
If you liked this leftover turkey chili recipe, you might also like some of my other easy leftover turkey recipes:
- Creamy Leftover Turkey Pasta
- Creamy Leftover Turkey Curry with Coconut Milk
- Leftover Turkey Risotto
- Turkey Wild Rice Soup
- Creamy Leftover Turkey Stew
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2-3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 can (14 oz / 400 g) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (7 oz / 200 g) sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
- 1 lb (450 g) cooked turkey meat, shredded
- 2 cans ((14 oz / 400 g) crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 ½ cup (350 ml) chicken stock
- A handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a large pot, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery, and red bell pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
- Stir in chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Cook for about 1 minute, then add tomato paste, stirring well to combine with the vegetables and spices.
- Add the drained and rinsed red kidney beans and sweetcorn to the pot together with the shredded cooked turkey meat and crushed tomatoes. Stir well to combine.
- Add unsweetened cocoa powder and brown sugar, then stir in the chicken stock.
- Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until thickened to your liking.
- Stir in the fresh coriander and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve the chili hot with tortilla chips, over rice or with a side of cornbread.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 262Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 380mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 29g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.