A Fun Turkey Chili Recipe To Try

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I’m always intrigued when I see old standards revised into something new…especially something that sounds a bit odd. And such was the case with this turkey chili recipe! We all have a recipe for turkey chili…and we cook it often because it’s so easy, right? This recipe, adapted from the cookbook High Flavor Low Labor is just as simple, but it truly thrills the palate with a bit of the unexpected. It’s spicy, yes, but not overly so–and it’s bright from the lemongrass and ginger. But it’s the addition of the coconut milk that truly makes this an interesting and wonderful, one-pot meal.

Recipe and recipe card updated 8/14/23

Why This Turkey Chili Recipe Is So Delicious

This turkey chili is anything but basic! It’s loaded with Malaysian-inspired flavors that really make it sing. Here’s what you’re going to need to make this chili.

  • Lemongrass – lemongrass is usually found in the fresh produce section of the market. It looks a bit like bamboo and lends incredible fragrance and flavor to this dish. Can’t find fresh lemongrass? Not to worry. Many supermarkets also carry pre-minced lemongrass in a tube. Avoid using dried lemongrass because it won’t soften enough and it will have the texture of hay in the soup. Worst case scenario add some fresh lemon zest.
  • Jalapeno Peppers – it is chili after all. Don’t like it spicy? Be sure to seed and de-vein the peppers to reduce the heat.
  • Coconut Milk – adding coconut milk in addition to the broth gives the turkey chili recipe tons of flavor and a nice creaminess too.
  • Spices – a mixture of cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, chili flakes, paprika and ginger add a touch of heat and tons of flavor.
  • Canned Beans – cannellini beans are creamy and delicious.
  • Fresh Spinach – adds a touch of brightness (and nutrition).
  • Fresh Lime Juice – lime juice helps to balance out the richness of the coconut milk.
  • Fish Sauce – a splash of fish sauce (I love Red Boat) adds a funky, umami flavor. It doesn’t make the chili taste fishy at all, but if the idea of fish sauce freaks you out, you can substitute with gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.

When I adapted this recipe, I was a little more liberal with the spices because I like a lot of flavor in my food. I also added a little lime juice or fish sauce to kick up the flavor even more. I love to mix it up and try new things when I cook, and for that reason, I hardly make anything the same way twice–because it’s fun to play with our food, right?  (Just don’t tell the kids I said that.)

Other Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas

Did you make this Malaysian-Inspired Turkey Chili recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and star rating below (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐) and post a picture and tag us on Instagram using the hashtags #agirldefloured #deflouredrecipes! Thank you!

Malaysian-Inspired Turkey Chili Recipe

Alison Needham
This recipe, adapted from High Flavor Low Labor by J.M. Hirsch, is a great way to revive that same old boring turkey chili you’ve been making year in and year out. Lemongrass and coconut milk work together to create a bright flavor and silky texture, and the spices add interesting complexity. Look for lemongrass in the produce section of your supermarket. It is a long, grassy stalk about the diameter of a finger. Use it as you would a bay leaf to add flavor during cooking and remove it before serving. If you can’t find it, adding the zest of one lemon is a decent substitute.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 532 kcal


  • Dutch Oven



  • Heat a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the lemon grass, olive oil, jalapenos, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, smoked paprika, chili flakes, and ground ginger. Saute for 3 minutes.
  • Add the turkey and break it apart with a spatula. Cook until lightly browned. Stir in the coconut milk, chicken broth and beans. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lemongrass and discard. Stir in the spinach and cook for one minute more, until the spinach is just wilted. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the lime juice and fish sauce.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and onions.


Serving: 1portionCalories: 532kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 44gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 580mgPotassium: 945mgFiber: 8gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 3767IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 155mgIron: 9mg
Keyword chili, ground turkey, turkey, turkey chili
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. This looks delicious! I love trying new flavors and playing with my food. This seems like a perfect early fall dish 🙂

  2. Kimberly Schneider says:

    This was delicious! I was a little hesitant that my kids would like it, but they loved it! My 15 and 11 year old boys had seconds also! Kudoos on this recipe. We will definitely be having this again.

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