Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili Recipe - Ingredients & Directions

Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili

Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili Recipe - Ingredients & Directions
Region / culture: USA | Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 6


Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili
Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili

Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili is a vibrant and hearty dish that brings a unique twist to the traditional chili recipe. This dish is perfect for those who love a good kick of spice, combined with the rich flavors of turkey, beans, and a variety of vegetables. It's a comforting meal that's ideal for any season, whether you're cozying up during the winter months or looking for a filling meal after a day at the beach. This recipe not only promises a delicious dining experience but also offers a nutritious meal that can be enjoyed by the whole family.


The origins of Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili trace back to the coastal city of Santa Cruz, known for its laid-back vibe and innovative culinary scene. Inspired by the diverse flavors of California and the traditional Mexican chili, this recipe was developed to offer a healthier alternative to beef chili by using turkey as the main protein. Over the years, it has evolved, incorporating various ingredients that add depth and complexity to the flavor profile. This dish has become a favorite among friends and family, and it's now shared with you to bring a taste of Santa Cruz into your home.



How to prepare

  1. Open a beer and pour half into a glass to enjoy.
  2. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  3. Saute onions and garlic until onions start to become translucent.
  4. Add a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, then add ground meat (or fresh veggies, if preferred). Mash the meat with the onions and sprinkle with cumin, cayenne pepper, and oregano.
  5. Saute for 5 minutes or until the meat begins to brown.
  6. Pour the remaining half of the beer into the pot and stir for another minute.
  7. Add green chiles.
  8. Take 2 chipotle chiles from the can and dice them up.
  9. Start by adding one chile plus about a teaspoon of the adobo sauce, and save the other for later if extra spiciness is desired. The remaining can be stored in a ziploc bag in the fridge for future use.
  10. Add corn, beans, tomato sauce, and another teaspoon of salt.
  11. Stir in molasses.
  12. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.
  13. Add cornstarch to thicken, then taste.
  14. If desired, add more chipotle chile for extra spiciness.
  15. Season with salt to taste.
  16. Enjoy!


  • For a vegetarian version, substitute turkey with quinoa or an extra can of beans.
  • Add sweet potatoes or butternut squash for a sweet and savory twist.
  • Incorporate different types of beans, such as kidney or pinto, for variety.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your chili is as flavorful as possible, consider the following tips:

- Use fresh vegetables for the best taste and nutritional value.

- Brown the turkey well before adding other ingredients to develop a deeper flavor.

- Let the chili simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together beautifully.

- Adjust the amount of chipotle chile and adobo sauce according to your spice preference.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the chili hot, garnished with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and fresh cilantro. Accompany with cornbread or tortilla chips for added texture and flavor.

Cooking Techniques

Browning the turkey and sautéing the onions and garlic are crucial steps that build the foundation of flavor for this chili. Simmering allows the ingredients to infuse, creating a rich and cohesive dish.

Ingredient Substitutions

Ground chicken can be used in place of turkey.

- Maple syrup can substitute for molasses for a different kind of sweetness.

- If beer is not preferred, use chicken or vegetable broth as a liquid base.

Make Ahead Tips

This chili tastes even better the next day, making it a perfect make-ahead meal. Prepare the chili, let it cool, and store it in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave when ready to serve.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the chili in a rustic bowl, garnished with colorful toppings like avocado slices, diced red onion, and chopped cilantro. A side of lime wedges adds a fresh touch.

Pairing Recommendations

Pair this hearty chili with a light, crisp salad to balance the richness. A glass of amber ale or a robust red wine complements the spicy and savory flavors perfectly.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat on the stove over medium heat, adding a little water or broth if necessary to adjust consistency.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

One serving of Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili contains approximately 350 calories, making it a satisfying yet calorie-conscious option for any meal.


This chili is relatively low in carbohydrates, with the primary sources being the beans and corn. One serving contains approximately 30g of carbohydrates, making it a suitable option for those monitoring their carb intake.


The use of lean turkey and olive oil keeps the fat content in check, with one serving containing about 10g of fat. The majority of the fat is unsaturated, contributing to a heart-healthy diet.


Turkey chili is an excellent source of protein, with one serving providing roughly 25g. This high protein content makes it a filling meal that supports muscle repair and growth.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is packed with vitamins and minerals, thanks to the variety of vegetables and beans. It's particularly high in Vitamin A (from carrots), Vitamin C (from tomatoes and chiles), and iron and fiber (from beans).


This recipe is free from common allergens such as nuts, dairy, and gluten. However, those with sensitivities to legumes should be cautious due to the beans.


Overall, Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili is a nutritious meal that balances proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. It's rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a wholesome choice for those looking to enjoy a hearty dish without compromising on nutrition.


Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili is a flavorful, nutritious, and versatile dish that's sure to become a staple in your recipe collection. Whether you're feeding a crowd or looking for delicious leftovers, this chili delivers on taste and satisfaction. Enjoy the rich combination of spices, vegetables, and turkey in a meal that's as comforting as it is healthy.

How did I get this recipe?

The first time I saw this recipe, I was immediately drawn to it. It was a brisk autumn day, and I was attending a potluck dinner with some friends in Santa Cruz. Andrea, a friend of a friend, had brought a steaming pot of chili that was the star of the evening. Everyone was raving about how delicious it was, and I just had to know her secret.

I approached Andrea and asked her for the recipe. She smiled and said it was a family recipe that had been passed down for generations. I pleaded with her to share it with me, and after some convincing, she agreed. As she listed off the ingredients and steps, I furiously scribbled them down on a napkin, determined to recreate this amazing chili in my own kitchen.

Back home, I gathered all the ingredients and set to work. The aroma of the chili simmering on the stove filled the air, bringing back memories of that chilly evening in Santa Cruz. As I took my first bite, I knew I had found a new favorite recipe.

Over the years, I have made Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili countless times. It has become a staple in my household, a dish that my family and friends always request when they come over. I have tweaked the recipe here and there, adding my own personal touches, but the core of it remains the same.

The key to this chili, I have found, is the combination of spices and the slow cooking process. The flavors have time to meld together, creating a rich and hearty dish that warms you from the inside out. The turkey adds a lean protein source, making it a healthier option than traditional beef chili.

I have shared this recipe with many people over the years, passing it along just as Andrea did with me. Each time I make it, I think of that fateful evening in Santa Cruz and the generosity of a stranger who shared her family recipe with me.

Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili has become a symbol of friendship and community for me. It is a dish that brings people together, warming both their hearts and bellies. I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned this recipe, and I will continue to make it for years to come.

As I sit here, stirring a pot of chili on the stove, I can't help but smile. The familiar scent fills the air, bringing me back to that day in Santa Cruz. And as I take my first taste, I am reminded once again of the power of food to connect us all. Andrea's Killer Santa Cruz Turkey Chili will always hold a special place in my heart, a reminder of the kindness of strangers and the joy of sharing a good meal.


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