This healthy three bean turkey chili recipe is easy to make in your crock pot or 30 minutes on the stovetop. A great-tasting chili with vegetables, three types of beans, and ground turkey. But it is also an excellent rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey recipe.
This turkey chili is one of my best chili recipes ever. An easy recipe to cut in half to make a smaller crock pot chili for two in a 2.5-quart crock pot.
It has a beautiful balance of spices with beans and vegetables. With only 3 grams of fat per serving, it will fit most diets. Yes, you can now have it all.
My wife wanted something different. Now that was not very specific. So turkey is considered healthy, and a variety of beans is also good for you. Turkey chili it will be.
I was expecting good. I do a good chili. Just give me some ingredients, and I produce. But the biggest surprise was the excellent blending of spicy flavors. Plus, just the right amount of heat for my older taste buds.
Now, this rating is from my wife and father-in-law. I agree.
🦃What Meat to Use
The answer would seem to be obvious but not quite so fast. Ground turkey is the suggested meat, but you have many choices.
Any ground meat will do, but I have repeated this recipe many times, but I prefer the turkey by a small amount, but beef or chicken are fine choices.
Pre-cooked chicken like rotisserie chicken will work well. Shred and add to the slow cooker the last hour of cooking.
This chili is a perfect way to use your leftover turkey. I do a "ruff" chunky shred of the leftover turkey, using light and dark meat. Use 2-3 cups shredded to bit size. Add the leftover meat to the last hour of cooking.
Lastly, you can leave the meat out of this chili and make it a vegetarian three bean chili.
What Beans to Use
Bean choice is up to you, but my favorite of pinto beans, kidney beans, and black beans are just right and somewhat the recipe's core.
I use only low sodium beans if I have them, although the pictures are from the original cooking and only the black beans are low sodium. Rinsing the beans also removes a little of the sodium.
♨️How to Make Three Bean Turkey Chili in the Crock Pot
A whole recipe needs a crock pot of 4.5 quarts or bigger, while a half recipe fits in a 2.5-quart crock pot or bigger.
This recipe will make about 12-13 cups of chili—3+ quarts. To cook correctly, a crock pot should not be filled more than ¾ full (some will say ⅔).
Ground meat needs to be browned before cooking in a slow cooker. If you don't, the meat will clump, and all the fatty drainage will be in the crock pot.
Add everything to the crock pot and cook for 6 hours total on low or 3 hours on high. The only other note is if you are using pre-cooked chicken or turkey, add that the last hour of cooking on low or the last 30 minutes of cooking on high.
This is an easy recipe to cook on the stovetop. It will be done in as little as 30 minutes, but the longer it simmers, the better. Try for an hour or more if you can.
Start with browning the meat in a large Dutch oven-type pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery while you do that. When browned and the celery and onion are tender, drain any liquid.
Stir in all the other ingredients, then bring to a low boil over medium heat. Then turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook for a minimum of 15 minutes, but an hour is better.
If using leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken, add it after cooking the onion and celery in a bit of oil.
🍽️Serving and Storage
I like to top tomato-based chili with a good scoop of sour cream and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese. Then garnish with a slice of avocado, sliced scallions, or cilantro if you want.
Along with tortilla chips or crusty bread, you have a filling and hearty chili dinner.
To store leftover chili, it is good refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for 3-4 months.
The Worcestershire sauce pops up the "meaty" to almost beef-like taste for the turkey.
This is about a 2-3 out of 10 on a heat scale with the jalapeno but no Ro-Tel. A level the whole family, even the kids, will love. Add the Ro-Tel will be about 4 out of 10 level of heat.
You can also add a second jalapeno or add ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for more heat.
Yes, three-bean turkey chili is healthy and fits most diets. A 1 ½ cup serving is only under 220 calories, ½ gram of fat, and about 700 mg of sodium using the suggested ingredients. So low in calories, low in fat, and sodium.
I suggest low sodium broth and beans since the Worcheshire sauce will increase the sodium. Rinsing the beans will decrease sodium slightly.
Part of the Leftover Ham and Turkey Recipe Roundup
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Use the meat you want, and I suggest low sodium products if you have them. A can of Ro-Tel is shown substituting for the second can of diced tomatoes.
Start by browning 1 pound of ground turkey in a large skillet.
Dice two ribs of celery and one large onion. Dice one jalapeno pepper.
Rinse and drain three cans of beans, low sodium preferred. I used pinto, black, and light kidney beans, and that is the combination I recommend.
To 4.5 quart or larger crock pot: add the cooked ground meat, prepared veggies, two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes (substitute one 10 oz can of Ro-Tel for one can if you want.) Also, add one 6 oz can of tomato paste, 14 oz can of low sodium chicken broth, 1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoons garlic powder.
Mix well. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.
- 1 pound ground turkey - See notes for options
- 2 ribs celery - Diced
- 1 onion - Large
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 28 oz dice tomatoes - may substitute one 10 oz can of RoTel for one 14 oz can of diced tomatoes.
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 14 oz chicken broth - Low sodium
- 1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce - Low sodium if possible
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt - adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 45-48 oz Beans-pinto, black, and light kidney beans suggested—low sodium and rinsing. - three cans
- Start by browning 1 pound of ground turkey.
- Dice two ribs of celery and one large onion. Dice one jalapeno pepper.
- Rinse and drain three cans of beans, low sodium preferred. I used pinto, black, and light kidney beans and that is the combination I recommend.
- To 4.5 quart or larger crock pot add the cooked ground meat, prepared veggies, two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes (substitute one 10 oz can of Ro-Tel for one can if you want.) Also, add one 6 oz can of tomato paste, 14 oz can of low sodium chicken broth, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Mix well. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.
My Private Notes
- An easy recipe to cut in half. The full-size recipe fits in 4.5 quarts or a large crock pot. A half-size recipe needs 2.5 quarts or larger.
- This recipe adapts well to precooked shredded meat like leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken. Just add 2-3 cups the last hour of cooking and skip the ground meat.
- Use the ground meat of your choice but I prefer ground turkey. Just skip the meat to make it vegetarian.
- Substitute a can of Ro-Tel for one can of the diced tomatoes for added tastes and a bit more heat.
- This is about a 2-3 out of 10 on a heat scale. You can add a second jalapeno, use the Ro-Tel, or add ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- If sodium is a concern, use lower sodium products and rinse the beans well.
- I assume a serving size of about 1 ½ cups per serving. This should be good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It will freeze well for 2-3 months.
- This is an easy recipe to cook on the stovetop. It will be done in as little as 30 minutes, but the longer it simmers, the better. Try for an hour or more if you can.
- Start with browning the meat in a large Dutch oven-type pan. Add the onions and celery while you do that. When browned and the celery and onion are tender, drain any liquid.
- Add all the other ingredients, bring to a low boil over medium heat. Then turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook for a minimum of 15 minutes but an hour is better.
- If using leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken, add 2-3 cups after cooking the onion and celery in a bit of oil.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor Note: Originally published November 1, 2014. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.