Aunt Peggy’s Turkey Chili

By Ann Fulton

Aunt Peggy’s Turkey Chili -Quick, easy and super satisfying, this flavorful meal is a go-to on busy nights and reheats beautifully. 
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Quick, easy, and super satisfying, this flavorful chili is a go-to on busy nights and reheats beautifully.


This recipe is quick and easy chili at its best. It may not be the nuanced, chili cook-off entry that’s layered with a variety of peppers and boasts hints of cocoa and coffee-but it’s family friendly and guaranteed to be the cook’s best friend on a busy weeknight.

And hey, if my 17-year old son were voting, it might even win the chili cook-off!

As the name reflects, I have my Aunt Peggy to thank for this recipe. My first taste of it came when she surprised me with a generously filled container when we met for coffee one afternoon a few years back. After my son oohed and aahed, I requested the recipe.

When a new lacrosse season begins each spring, I begin making this recipe in earnest. Despite what the calendar says, the weather doesn’t always feel so spring-like, and a warming bowl of chili always hits the spot.

We actually joke that most of the lacrosse games occur in the snow, driving rain or relentless wind. (Happily, however, the weather this past week has felt rather springlike!)

Beyond the weather, the bigger issue is often the special challenge school sporting events present in terms of mealtimes. When we return from after-school games, everyone is starving and ready to eat right away. Evening games mean we have to eat earlier than usual.

Whatever the reason for a dinnertime conflict, this chili comes to the rescue on busy nights.

And why exactly is that, you may be wondering?

First, it’s quick and easy.

Second, the ingredient list consists of basic pantry ingredients, making it a doable meal when caught without a plan.

Third, though it doesn’t require an extended simmer like many chili recipes, this hearty bowl still packs a flavor punch. I especially enjoy the tomatoey undertone afforded by the addition of marinara sauce.

Last but certainly not least, this satisfying meal reheats easily and the flavor improves with time. I often prepare it early in the day so it’s ready to simply scoop into bowls and warm. This offers added convenience when various activities necessitate eating in shifts.

Aunt Peggy’s Turkey Chili -Quick, easy and super satisfying, this flavorful meal is a go-to on busy nights and reheats beautifully. 

Of course, there are a thousand different ways to enjoy a bowl of chili, and this recipe allows for easy customization. My aunt and uncle prefer a thicker chili, while we enjoy a hint of soupiness. Either is possible thanks to one simple ingredient adjustment.

As written, the recipe is family-friendly. The spice level is mild and the marinara sauce supplies a subtle sweetness that complements the otherwise savory ingredients. Optional toppings allow individual diners to customize to taste.

Aunt Peggy’s Turkey Chili -Quick, easy and super satisfying, this flavorful meal is a go-to on busy nights and reheats beautifully. 

This speedy chili is hearty, healthy and worthy of the weekly rotation. Leftovers improve with age and freeze well.

Aunt Peggy’s Turkey Chili
Yield: approximately 2 quarts (or 6 servings, give or take)
Quick, easy and super satisfying, this flavorful meal is a go-to on busy nights and reheats beautifully.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I slightly round it)
  • 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper or ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar your favorite marinara sauce (like Rao’s)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can corn, drained or 1¾ cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup (240ml) chicken broth
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese; diced avocado, minced fresh cilantro; sliced green onions; crumbled tortilla chips; minced or sliced jalapeño pepper

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the ground turkey, and brown the meat, crumbling as you go.  Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, pepper and garlic powder in the final minute or two.

Add the marinara sauce, black beans and corn. Pour the broth into the sauce jar, replace the lid and shake the jar. Pour the contents into the chili pot. (This simply cleans out the jar and makes use of all the sauce.)

Give everything a good stir, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as the chili boils, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Check for seasoning; depending on brands used, you may or may not want to add a sprinkle of salt. I often add ¼-½ teaspoon. Serve hot with optional toppings of choice.


I often use ground turkey that includes the thigh meat, but you may use ground turkey breast if preferred.
This chili is not spicy.  For a hint more heat (on par with mild-medium salsa), you may use 1/4 teaspoon cayenne-or more to taste.
Aunt Peggy likes Alessio’s sauce.  I’ve used a variety of jarred sauces, mostly in the 24- to 28-ounce range.  Minor differences in size of jar may be disregarded. Three cups of homemade sauce may be substituted. (Note that Alessio’s happens to be one of the few brands that is still available in a 32-ounce jar; Aunt Peggy uses it all for a more pronounced tomato flavor.)
Aunt Peggy usually skips the broth for a thicker chili.  She also adds 1 teaspoon of sugar, which you may stir in with the marinara sauce if desired.

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Aunt Peggy has been a great source for winning recipes over the years. Favorites include the following:

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  1. LAURA

    As advertised, this was easy, delicious, and didn’t take long to make! I used a 24 oz jar of Bertolli Vineyard Marinara sauce and decided to add just 1/2 cup of chicken broth to get to my desired consistency. Also tried just a half teaspoon of the suggested sugar. Since I had some fresh mushrooms available, I added half of an 8 oz package and really liked how that added to all of the flavors. Will definitely be making this again not only for myself but for taking to others in need of a meal. Always looking for meals that travel well, and this is one of them! Thanks Ann.

    1. Ann Post author

      So happy to read your comment, Laura, and glad the chili is a keeper. It’s always fun to see how others put their own spin on a recipe. There are some mushroom lovers here who would especially approve of that addition!

  2. Sandy Post author

    I’ve made this three times since you posted the recipe and you’re right…it doesn’t take long and it’s really, really delicious!

  3. Judith Landis

    This chili recipe looks great! I too remember many cold evenings at spring sports events-baseball and lacrosse. I would just like to add a comment about Alessio’s spaghetti sauce. It is the only brand I buy because I have a heart condition and it is very low sodium compared to other brands. It is also very tasty, and locally made!

    1. Ann Post author

      Judith, Thank you for your comment and the mention about Alessio’s. I believe my aunt likes it because it’s also low in sugars…and local is a bonus!

  4. Missy

    We are amidst a wet and cold lacrosse season too. I’m going try this tomorrow for the week! What brand of sauce in a jar do you use? I can never find one I like 🙁

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Missy, I tend to try different sauces, often looking for local options or brands with smaller distribution. I also go for simple-plain marinara without extra flavorings. I just read something positive about Rao’s, so last week I picked up a jar of that to try. Good luck with your lacrosse season…and here’s hoping for more sunny weather!