Revamp your Thanksgiving leftovers with our hearty Turkey Chili recipe. A favorite recipe with a delicious blend of spices and packed full of flavor defining it as the ultimate Turkey Chili!

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing like warming up with a big pot of chili or soup, Try some of our other recipes with leftover turkey or chicken for convenience like White Bean Chicken Chili, Homemade Creamy Tomato Turkey Soup, and Creamy Chicken And Wild Rice Soup.

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left over turkey chili in white bowls and large pot with cornbread on the side.

Why This Leftover Turkey Recipe Works

After planning and preparing a spectacular Holiday Dinner, I want to cozy up with a book and a glass of Mulled Wine. Not that I don’t love a good turkey sandwich, but after all that delicious indulgence (and clean-up), a hearty, satisfying leftover turkey recipe is just what the chef recommends: the ultimate comfort fix!

  • Effortless: Relax and enjoy the afternoon knowing you turned your turkey leftovers into a hearty, flavorful chili without the hassle.
  • Saves Time and Waste: Make the most of your ingredients and reduce food waste by repurposing turkey from your holiday feast.
  • Quick Prep: With only 10 minutes of preparation, it’s a convenient and satisfying meal option.
  • Hearty Comfort: Hearty, not heavy, leftover turkey chili is filled with flavor and packed with protein. Perfect for warming up on chilly days.
  • Slow Cooker Option: Make crock pot leftover turkey chili and come home to tantalizing smells and a delicious meal.
ingredients for leftover turkey chili on a counter

What’s In Turkey Chili

For specific amounts, please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Cajun Mirepoix: The “Holy Trinity & The Pope”

Olive oil, diced onion, celery, and green pepper are gently sweated, not caramelized, to tease out and infuse turkey chili with its characteristic flavor.  “The pope” is the minced garlic added to the mirepoix after it is softened. 

  • Red Sauce:

Fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes with chilies form a sun-ripened tomato base with smokey sweet notes, finished off with a touch of zesty warmth.

  • Seasonings: 

Chili seasoning, cumin, paprika, kosher salt, and black pepper add warmth and depth to a turkey chili recipe.

  • Protein:

Leftover shredded turkey (or ground turkey or chicken) and dark red kidney beans give texture and provide meatiness to this chili. Leftover turkey is checked for bones (or ground turkey browned), and canned beans are rinsed and drained before being added. 

  • Optional Toppings:

Cheese, sour cream, avocado, lettuce, etc.

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How To Make Fuss-Free Leftover Turkey Chili

There’s not a whole lot to fuss over to make this chili recipe with leftover turkey! Prep your veggies, open the cans, and everything ends up in the same pot. A filling, warm, and comforting chili dinner is ready when you are! You just need a Dutch Oven or a heavy-bottomed pot and a wooden spatula or spoon.

When you are making this recipe, you’ll want to use the full recipe at the bottom of the page.

  1. Heat the olive oil and add the diced onions, bell pepper, and celery. Cook until soft, adding the minced garlic and cooking for another 2 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sauce, and seasonings and stir to mix well.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for two hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in leftover turkey and beans, and simmer for another hour.
  5. Serve with preferred toppings.

Chef Tip:

If you’d like to make this chili with ground turkey or chicken, simply brown the raw ground turkey (or chicken) with the onions, celery, and bell pepper.

white pot of turkey chili

Crock Pot Leftover Turkey Chili

Easy crock pot turkey chili is just that, easy! Added to that, it’s a fantastic way to use up leftover turkey! A dump chili recipe streamlines the whole process and makes crock pot chili a no-brainer for busy people!

  1. Carefully shred leftover turkey, check for small bones, and refrigerate. 
  2. Prep the veggies; there is no need to saute them. Just throw everything into the crock pot except the turkey and beans.
  3. Cook on low for 4 hours, adding the protein, and continue cooking for 4 more hours.
homemade chili in white soup bowls.

Chili Substitutions & Additions

  • You can use ground turkey, chicken (or shredded chicken) instead of leftover turkey for this chili recipe. Merely brown the raw ground turkey (or chicken) with the onions, celery, and bell pepper.
  • When browning the ground turkey, you can bloom the chili seasonings by sprinkling it over the meat at the last minute or two of cooking. 
  • If you want a beanless option, you can use another Thanksgiving leftover: sweet potatoes! Mashed sweet potatoes or baked sweet potatoes without the skin will break down during the long, slow simmer and thicken the chili.

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Durable cast iron construction delivers superior heat retention and ensures even cooking



Once chili with leftover turkey is completely cooled, store it in an airtight container, refrigerating for up to 5 days.


Turkey chili freezes very well. Store in an appropriate freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.

white dutch oven full of chili

Recipe FAQs

What are other simple ways to repurpose leftover turkey chili for different meals?

Switch up your leftover turkey chili recipe with simple ideas like using it for a taco filling, nachos, topping for baked potatoes or hotdogs, and as a flavorful base for a taco salad.

Can I make leftover turkey chili without dark red kidney beans?

Yep, you can make chili without dark red kidney beans and use any bean you prefer. White kidney beans, also called cannellini, provide a milder, creamier option and pair well with turkey chili.

How do you make a chili recipe thicker?

One of the best ways to thicken a chili recipe is to add a small can of mashed beans. The starch in the beans naturally thickens the chili and is very effective. I recommend starting with half a can, blended in a food processor or Nutribullet, and seeing how it affects the consistency, either mashing up the rest or just adding them to the chili.

2 bowls of turkey chili topped with avocado, cheese and fresh herbs

Serving Suggestions For Turkey Chili

Chili really is versatile. Besides a hearty, bean-filled soup, it can be served and thoroughly savored in many flavorful ways.

  • Traditional: Enjoy turkey chili with a green salad, a Crusty Loaf of bread or Cheesy Garlic Bread, and a cool and creamy dessert, like Ambrosia or Watergate Salad.
  • Mexican: Use turkey chili as a base for a Mexican Cornbread. Simply, layer leftover chili and shredded cheese in a baking pan, spread with cornbread batter, and bake. Serve with sour cream, salsa, jalapenos, diced onion, and cilantro. DE-lish!! Go over the top (in the best way!) with a Sangria Mexican Mule or a Beergarita.
  • Chili Pie: Line a bowl with broken heavy tortilla chips or Fritos, ladle turkey chili over it, and sprinkle another layer of chips on top. Serve with shredded sharp or medium cheddar cheese, sour cream, and sliced green onions. Don’t forget the Spicey Ranch Water or a Sparkling Cucumber Gimlet!
turkey chili photo collage. Served in bowls and in a white dutch oven

Like This Recipe?

I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a review below and let me know how you liked the recipe!

left over turkey chili in white bowls and large pot with cornbread on the side.

Turkey Chili (With Leftover Turkey)

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Revamp your Thanksgiving leftovers with our hearty Turkey Chili recipe. A favorite recipe with a delicious blend of spices and packed full of flavor defining it as the ultimate Turkey Chili!



  1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch Oven, or heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Add the diced onions, bell pepper, and celery and cook over medium-high heat until soft.
  3. Then, add the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Next, add the canned tomatoes, sauce, and seasonings and stir to mix well.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. After 1 hour add the leftover turkey to the chili pot, along with the drained kidney beans.
  7. Stir and continue to simmer for another hour.
  8. Serve with preferred toppings.


    • You can shred leftover turkey (or chicken) using an electric mixer, or a food processor
    • You can use raw ground turkey or chicken instead of leftover turkey. Simply brown the raw ground turkey with the onions, celery, and bell pepper.
    • Storage: Once the turkey chili has cooled completely, it can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 
    • Freeze: This chili freezes very well. Freeze for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container.
    • Slow Cooker Option: To make it easier, you don’t HAVE to sauté the onions, bell peppers, and celery first. Just dump and go! Cook on low for 8 hours, adding the turkey and kidney beans halfway through.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 320mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 35g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used and are just estimates. We encourage, especially if these numbers are important to you, to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.

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pot and bowls of chili