The White Turkey Chili

White Turkey Chili

I cobbled together this recipe from about thirty search results, all because I had a hankering for chili and I saw ground turkey on sale.

I’m so glad my co-workers not only indulge my fantasizing about cooking, but they engage in my wild imaginings with suggestions.

This recipe assumes a 6-7 quart crock pot, and needs a sizable pan (12 inch or more) to fry up the turkey and peppers.  This will fill the crock-pot to the brim before it has a chance to cook down a bit, and needs checking and adjusting at least twice while cooking.  

The spices are guidelines, as well, and I consider them minimums.  Depending on how much yogurt you add, you may need more to bring back the bite, as the yogurt will pull the spiciness into the background and give a good, general heat to the whole shebang.  Some people want more up-front, kick-in-the-face heat – so adding more spice after the yogurt can give you multiple layers to that heat.  I’ve considering reserving a habanero to add near the end, but I haven’t tried it yet.

This chili is good on the first day and after mellowing out in the fridge overnight.

I’d love to tell you how long this will last in the fridge or freezer, but it would be guesswork.  I’ve never had a batch last longer than a week, and that’s just when I’m the only person eating it.  When I’ve made it for groups, it’s lucky to see a third sunrise.

A Pictorial Journey:

01 Ingredients

Ingredients listed below.

02 Chopped Peppers

The peppers, chopped.

03 Spices 01

The first part of the spices.

04 Spices 02

The second part of the spices.

05 Mixed Spices

The spices, mixed together.

06 Cooking Onions

Starting the onions.

07 Add Half Hot Peppers

Adding half the hot peppers.

08 Add Turkey

In goes the turkey.

09 Mix And Layer Spices

Layering the spices on the turkey as it browns.

10 Beans Peppers And Veggies In Crock

Beans, remaining peppers, and veggies go into the crock pot.

11 Browned Turkey With More Spices

Turkey’s done, with more spices.

12 Meat Into Crock

Meat goes into the crock with any remaining spices.

13 One Good Mixing Later

Mix it well.

14 Cover And Set To High

Cover and turn it up to High.

15 Mixed And Turned To Low

After an hour, another good mix and set to Low.

16 A Couple Hours In

The Chili after 3 hours.

17 Add Yogurt One Cup At A Time

Add Yogurt a cup at a time and whisk.

18 After 3 Cups Yogurt

Added 3 cups of yogurt and whisked… Seems a little thin, yet….

19 The Next Day

The next day, after refrigeration, bringing it back up to 110°F.

The White Turkey Chili

Voila! The finished product.

  • Prep Time: 1h
  • Cook Time: 8h
  • Total Time: 9h


  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour


  • 45 fluid ounces cannellini beans (3 cans)
  • 45 fluid ounces great northern beans (3 cans)
  • 3 red onions (medium)
  • 6 celery stalks
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 3 poblano peppers (medium)
  • 4 jalapeño peppers (medium or small)
  • 2 habanero peppers
  • 6 teaspoons minced garlic


  • 3 tablespoons oregano
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper


Prep work

  1. Drain the beans. Set aside to add directly to the crock-pot.
  2. Chop the celery to your preference, I prefer a large chop. Set aside to add directly to the crock pot.
  3. Dice the onions, and set aside to brown with the meat.
  4. Remove the seeds and de-vein the peppers and dice them, in order of mildest to hottest: bell peppers, poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers, habanero peppers. You should use gloves to chop the habaneros. I prefer to completely de-vein and remove all seeds, and have a large dice, but this is a matter of preference. Set aside half to brown with the meat, other half goes into the crock pot.
  5. Mix together the spices in one container to add to the turkey while browning. (You can reserve half to add directly to the crock-pot, but I found that doesn't seriously impact the taste.)

Stove-top work

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil and start the onions. (About a minute or two.)
  2. Add the peppers you set aside, then the ground turkey. Use a fork or wooden spoon to break up the turkey as it browns and keep the vegetables moving, while adding the spices. (I prefer to keep large chunks of ground turkey, but this is a preference thing, too.)

Crock-pot work

  1. Add the celery and any reserved peppers to the crock-pot.
  2. Add the meat to the crock-pot.
  3. Add any reserved spices (if you reserved any, I just add them to the meat while browning.)
  4. Add at least 3 cups of the broth to the crock pot, to keep the vegetables from sticking to the sides.
  5. Cover and turn the crock-pot up to high for 1 hour. After that hour, give it a good stir and reduce the heat to low for another 3 hours.
  6. After 4 hours (total), open the crock pot and inhale the goodness. Add the yogurt a cup at a time and check the liquid. If it's not covering all the ingredients, alternate between adding broth and adding yogurt until you get a nice, white liquid.
  7. Close the crock pot and allow it to cook for another hour. Then check the liquid and taste-test the spices. If too much heat was lost, add more cumin and/or coriander and/or pepper, a few teaspoons at a time. If the liquid is too thin, drain a cup of the liquid to mix the cornstarch/flour into, and pour it back in.
  8. Close it up and let it meditate for 2-3 hours on low. Use this time to make some cornbread or get some chips, because if you're like me, at this point you're ravenous.
  9. Optional: After 6 or 7 total hours, turn off the crock pot and allow to cool (usually overnight) - I will usually refrigerate it. The next morning, put it back in the crock and turn it to warm until it gets above room temperature. Then switch to low until it starts to bubble. Eventually getting to High until it reaches ~110°F. Then turn it off and portion out for storage.

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