This Slow Cooker Italian Turkey Chili is perfect for Italian food lovers! All the components of traditional turkey chili, but with Italian flair. It’s an easy dinner the whole family will love!
Thanks to my friends at American Dairy Association Mideast for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
It hasn’t really felt like fall here in Denver yet. We’ve mostly been having 80+ degree temperatures, but I know cooler weather is coming. When it does finally get here, the first thing I’m making for dinner is this Slow Cooker Italian Turkey Chili!
September is Family Meals Month and it’s a great time to remember to take time to cook together and sit down to enjoy wholesome meals as a family. As tempting as it is to order a pizza or go through the drive thru, the benefits of home cooking far outweigh the convenience of not cooking. Not only will it save money, but it can cut down on food waste, help with weight control and many other health benefits you may not be aware of.
This Italian turkey chili has all the components that you’d find in traditional slow cooker turkey chili, but swaps the southwest flavors for Italian ones. You’ll still find many of traditional ingredients such as onion, bell pepper, garlic, ground turkey, beans and a tomato base.
How is Italian Turkey Chili Different From Traditional Turkey Chili?
- Instead of chili powder and cumin it uses Italian seasoning and plenty of garlic.
- Instead of kidney beans or black beans, the Italian version uses cannellini beans which are common in many Italian recipes.
- Diced tomatoes or fire roasted diced tomatoes are substituted with crushed tomatoes with basil and jarred marinara sauce.
- A portion of the ground turkey is substituted with Italian turkey sausage.
- Instead of cheddar cheese, sour cream and green onions for toppings, it uses mozzarella cheese, ricotta, parsley and basil.
Italian turkey chili is also just as easy to make as the traditional version, especially since you’ll be making it in the slow cooker. Slow cooker dinners are perfect for easy weeknight meals or if your serving a large group on the weekend. The chili will cook for approximately 6-7 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
Do I Have to Use A Slow Cooker?
You might be wondering if a slow cooker is required to make this Italian chili and the answer is no. If you plan to make it on the stove top, be sure you have a large heavy bottomed pot with a lid. The process for making the chili will be the same as it would be in the slow cooker, but you’ll want to adjust your cooking time. Once all of the ingredients are in the pot, bring it to a boil. Then, turn down the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring it occasionally.
As with most chili recipes, this Italian turkey chili does require browning the meat and sautéing the vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker. It only takes a few minutes and it ensures maximum flavor, softens the vegetables and cuts out the harsh flavor of raw onions and garlic.
The toppings for the chili really bring it together. Shredded mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, fresh parsley and basil make this chili taste like lasagna without the noodles. Ricotta cheese is high in protein and contains calcium (cheese is the number 2 source of calcium for Americans), phosphorus and vitamin A, all of which are important in a healthy diet. It also contains a unique package of nine essential nutrients, so go ahead and add an extra dollop of ricotta!
While we’re on the topic of dairy, let’s take a minute to talk about dairy farming. Ohio and West Virginia dairy farmers raise more than 260,000 dairy cows on about 2,000 dairy farms. In an average year, these dairy cows produce approximately 5.6 billion pounds of milk. That’s equivalent to approximately 640 million gallons. If you’re interested in learning more about dairy farmers and dairy nutrition check out www.Drink-MIlk.com.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 pound lean ground turkey, I used 90/10%
- 1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 2 cans (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 24 ounces marinara sauce
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 parmesan cheese rind (optional, but recommended)
- Ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, chopped flat leaf parsley and basil for toppings.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Swirl the oil around the bottom of the skillet then sauté the onion and bell pepper for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add in the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. Add in the ground turkey and turkey sausage and season with a little more salt and pepper. Crumble the turkey and cook until it's browned and mostly cooked through. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir everything together. Cover with the lid and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. When the chili is done, remove the parmesan cheese rind and discard. Serve the chili topped with shredded mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese and chopped flat leaf parsley or basil.
- If you can't find cannellini beans replace with great northern beans
- To get the ricotta smooth and creamy like I did in the photos, stick it in a food processor or high speed blender with a splash of milk and purée until smooth.
- Toppings not included in nutritional information.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 355Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 861mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 11gSugar: 12gProtein: 35g