What is Vegan Cincinnati Chili?
I discovered Cincinnati-style chili upon moving to the Midwest when I was around 12 years old. Having been from the South, it was a completely different take on chili. Rather than being a soup-y bowl, it is treated more as a sauce to be served atop noodles with a variety of toppings, or, more aptly “ways” as they are called.
Skyline is likely the best known provider of Cincinnati Chili and they host a TON of restaurants in the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana region. However, this is not where I discovered the dish.
For me it was at a small-town restaurant called “Ritzys.” Over the years they have expanded, but at the time the had just the one joint. If you watch Riverdale, think “Pop’s.” Same idea, small diner-style restaurant where all the kids would hang out for a burger, shake or, my favorite, the Cincinnati-style chili.
Over the years, I ended up moving away from the Midwest and Cincinnati chili became harder to find. Yes, you can find Skyline chili in cans at the grocery; however, it just isn’t the same (plus the sodium content isn’t really what I was looking for). So, I set about to try and create a way to recreate the flavors at home.
What makes our Vegan Skyline Chili Different?
- First, and likely MOST importantly, our recipe is made in the Instant Pot. It is a LOT faster than simmering for an hour or more.
- Second, traditional Cincinnati style chili does not include any oil or sautéing of onions, etc. but ours does, as I prefer the flavors that way.
- Finally, For Cincinnati chili, beans are part of the traditional topping structure (or ways), however, for our recipe, they are included in the dish. I feel it makes the dish more filling and lightens it up from needing an extra pound of ground beef.
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What the are Ways?
This was total new to me as a newbie Midwesterner. In the South it was, chili, here is your chili, bowl of chili. But having relocated, I realized it was more complicated there. So bare with me. “WAYS” are basically combinations of toppings. So here is the list of “ways” that are generally accepted:
- 3-way: chili with cheese and Spaghetti Noodles
- 4-way: chili, cheese, spaghetti noodles and onions
- 5-way: chili, cheese, spaghetti noodles, onions and beans
- 7-way: chili, cheese, spaghetti noodles, onions, beans, green peppers, tomatoes
- Some additional things that are traditionally added: hot sauce or oyster crackers.
What ensures our Cincinnati Chili is Vegan?
- Our version swaps the beef of traditional skyline chili with plant based soy crumbles
- Make sure the Worcestershire sauce you use is vegan-friendly
- If you elect to use cheese as a topping use vegan cheese
How to Make Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili?
- Set the Instant Pot to Sauté. Heat the oil and then add the beef and onions and cook until finished.
- Add seasonings, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, pepper, cayenne and hot sauce.
- Stir it all up and set to High pressure for 3 minutes. When done, allow pressure to release for 5 minutes, then do a quick release.
- At this point, your chili will be ready to go if you like it a bit more like a traditional chili. If you would like it to be more “sauce-style” like the traditional Cincinnati Chili, set your Instant Pot on Sauté and allow to cook down a bit. Then, served topped with your chosen “way.”
Vegan Cincinnati Chili
- pressure cooker
- 2 cups soy crumbles
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 15oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 15oz can kidney beans drained & rinsed
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 4 cups spaghetti cooked
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 6 Tbsp diced onion
- 1 roma tomato diced
- oyster crackers
- Set the Instant Pot to Sauté and add the olive oil. Add the beef (or soy beef) and onion and cook, stirring until onions are beginning to soften and beef is no longer pink.
- Add garlic powder, tomatoes, broth, Worcestershire, red wine vinegar, chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, pepper, cayenne,& hot sauce.
- Stir all and set to High Pressure for 3 minutes. After cooking allow a natural release of 5 minutes. If the chili is still too thin for your liking, set the Instant Pot to Sauté for a few minutes to thicken.
- Serve over noodles or with any "way" you choose.
I love this version!