Skylike Chili - Skyline Chili Copycat

"A copycat of Skyline Chili, true Cincinnati chili, except it's less greasy! I combine all the dry spices times ten and keep the "Skyline Spice Mix" in a jar cannister. One batch of chili will use 3/8 cup of spice mix. The spice mix is also tasty as a meat rub for steak, pork and chicken."
photo by Jonathan Melendez photo by Jonathan Melendez
photo by Jonathan Melendez
photo by Deb L. photo by Deb L.
photo by anniesnomsblog photo by anniesnomsblog
photo by anniesnomsblog photo by anniesnomsblog
photo by DeliciousAsItLooks photo by DeliciousAsItLooks
Ready In:
1hr 45mins




  • Brown ground beef and onion.
  • Drain.
  • Add beef stock to beef mixture and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Add remaining 13 ingredients, simmer uncovered 1 hour.
  • Remove bay leaf, skim off extra fat.
  • Serve over hot spaghetti, or hot dogs in buns for chili dogs.
  • Top with plenty of cheese and other optional toppings.

Questions & Replies

  1. I’ve never made this but people have told me the “authentic” Skyline chili involves boiling the meat in the water or broth and not sautéed or browned with onion. Something about the texture. Have you ever heard that?


  1. I am a former Cinci resident now on the east coast. Like many people at first I wasn't that impressed with Skyline but as time went on I became a full out addict. After leaving Ohio I had to order by the case ($100 ) online to keep my supply steady and my hands from shaking from withdrawl. I've tried many different fake recipes and none come close to the real deal. This recipe is BY FAR the best I've tried. I would still like to think in a double blind taste test I could pick out the original but it might be close. I did take in some of the other reviewer suggestions and agree they are necessary. First the meat needs to boil in the broth. I put the raw 85% lean meat, water with beef bullion, and onions (I only used 1 cup finely chopped) in a pot to cook stovetop. I used a mashed potato masher to break up the meat. My end result meat was still a little coarse compared to the original so next time i will use a blender or food processor to break it up finer. I went with 3T chili powder which did give it a little kick, 2.5T might be closer to the original but I like the heat. I added a bit of paprika as well. With 85% lean meat there is no need to skim any fat, it is just about right. After 1 hour I couldn't wait and ate some. It was good. Plan ahead and simmer for 2 hours if possible, its even better. After 2 hours too much liquid was gone so I would consider covering the pot after 45min or so. Also for rookies or non Ohioans out there it is essential you get "fancy shredded mild cheddar cheese". Regular shredded cheese (as shown in the picture) is too coarse and will ruin the dish. When plating a 3-way first put down a bed of spaghetti (regular spaghetti not thin spaghetti), spoon on the chili covering all but the edges ensuring plenty of liquid flows down through the spaghetti, then add a generous portion of cheese to cover all chili. Make sure the chili is not too hot, you only want that small portion of the cheese that is in direct contact with the chili to melt. The top of the cheese should be cool and unmelted. When you eat it for God's sake don't stir it up. Add the optional tobasco then use a knife to cut down through the 3 layers and use a fork to lift it to your mouth like a piece of lasagna. The cool cheese will hit the roof of your mouth and the spaghetti will sit on your tongue. When you are finished carry your plate to the sink, make sure your wife is not looking and lick the plate clean like a dog. To the reviewer who gave it one star complaining its not chili, your right. Its way better and you just don't understand. I feel sorry for you because you are missing out on one of the finer things in life.
  2. A good Cincinnati chili but not Skyline. I've been transplanted to the left coast from Cincinnati and lived on Skyline while there. I made a 3 lb batch using 93/7 ground beef and these are the changes I made. In a crock pot, 3 lbs of 93/7 ground beef, 5 cups beef stock, 3 cups grated onion, 3 (8 oz) cans of tomato sauce, 5 TBS chili powder, 5 TBS unsweetened cocoa, 1 TBS granulated garlic, 3 tsp seasoning salt, 4 TBS soy sauce, 4 bay leaves. The rest of the ingredients of Tornado Ali's recipe I followed for a 2 lb batch. I just threw it all together in the crock and cooked it for 4 hours stirring every half hour to keep the consistency of the ground beef grainy and soupy. That's the way Skyline is. Oh, and by the way, a family member came up from Cincy who lives off Skyline and rated the above adjusted recipe a 9 out of 10. Thanks, Tornado Ali, for posting this. There will be lots of Skyline Copy at my place.
  3. First of all, those of you who have no idea what Skyline is should not be rating this recipe. Secondly, you do not get the proper consistency in the chili if you brown and drain the beef. You have to cook it in the stock. Then you can remove the grease from the top with a ladel or cool the chili overnight and the grease will rise to the top and you can remove. If you brown and drain it first, you are not eating Skyline chili.
  4. OMG!! this recipe is FABULOUS!! i made a batch for guests for a football get together we had saturday (in honor of the Bengals playing)...needless to say, when they heard the ingredients i was putting into this dish, i got some sour puss faces and even an offer to order a pizza, this was a Calif. crowd who have never even HEARD of Cincinnatti Chili...HOWEVER, when i served it up, EVERYBODY loved it! i too boiled the beef in the beef stock to get the right consistency instead of browning it, i also used the whisk to break up the beef and that worked beautifully, other than that, i stuck to the recipe and didn't change a thing. the cheese is an absolute MUST, don't omit that...the flavor it adds is worth the extra calories, even my mother, who doesn't like cheese, put it on hers and loved it. it truly was a hit, my boyfriend absolutely couldn't believe how good it was (and he kept saying that too!) and was truly disappointed to learn there was none leftover the next day. the hardest part of this recipe is explaining to people that it ISN'T's more of a spaghetti sauce. this will definitely stay in the regular rotation. thank you so much, it's absolutely delicious!!<br/><br/>UPDATE: I FINALLY got to go to an actual Skyline Chili (even though it was in Naples, Florida) and i have to admit....this recipe was pretty dang close in my opinion. I loved the fact i was finally able to compare it to the real deal. Still lovin' it, and still delicious!!
  5. We are native "Cincinnatians" and have the pleasure of having Skyline whenever we want. This chili, however, is VERY close to the original. The only change I made was to put the browned beef and onion mixture (after it cooled) into the food processor and just pulsed it a few times to get the right consistancy (there should not be any lumps). Spouse (the spice lover) suggested more cayenne or cumin as he felt the original had a spicier after taste, but I thought it was great as is. We'll make often!


  1. I used to live in Cincinnati for quite some time and absolutely fell in love with Skyline Chili (not Goldstar, or Empress, etc.) but Skyline. There is a difference to connoisseurs :) This recipe comes pretty darn close to the real thing. I've tweaked the recipe to my liking and simply boil the hamburger in the beef stock for about 20-30 mins or until it's cooked. I saute the onions and use only about 1/2 an onion (don't really care too much for onions) and I use garlic powder instead of fresh minced garlic. I let it cook in the crock pot on high for about an hour or so and then its good to go over a bed of hot spaghetti noodles and piled high with finely shredded cheddar. MMMMM! Thanks so much for this much cheaper way to enjoy Skyline chili without having to spend $50 for 6 cans over the Cincy Favorites website!
  2. Works great in an instant pot too. Don’t Brown the meat, just make sure it is not frozen, throw it in with the rest of the ingredients, and stir to break meat up before sealing and using the bean/chili setting. I also agree with letting it cool and sit in fridge overnight before serving to get better flavor.
  3. 3 TBSP chili powder; don't brown the meat, just throw it in the pot with everything else and break it up as it starts to cook; after cooked, skim fat off top; put in blender to get right texture. Delish!!!!
  4. Delicious! One of my favorite variations on copycat Skyline Chili! I used a 28 oz can of tomato puree instead of the sauce it called for, and Certified Angus Beef ground beef .... absolutely delish!
  5. Not exactly skyline, but definitely a great substitute. I made a few minor changes to suit my taste. I used beef broth instead of stock, nutmeg instead of allspice, doubled the salt, added 1 tsp of paprika, a bit of extra chili powder (maybe 1/2 tsp), added two 14 oz can drained kidney beans directly to it. I browned the ground beef and threw everything into the crockpot and cooked it on high for four hours. If I made it again, I'd cut down on the beef broth by 1/2, to make a thicker chili. I served it over spaghetti with finely chopped onions and lots of shredded cheddar cheese. My husband who grow up in Cincinnati, gave it the thumbs up. This is definitely going into my regular dinner rotation.


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