Sunday dinner
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Turkey and Dried Black Bean Chili

Turkey and Dried Black Bean Chili

Welcome goblins, settle down ghouls… it’s time for Turkey and Dried Black Bean Chili for Halloween.
h/t my favorite Halloween album of all time Halloween Hootenanny.

On Halloween night, I want a dinner that sticks to the ribs of my trick or treaters, a buffer from the high fructose corn syrup binge that is coming. I want beans, meat, and a little heat to cut through the sugar that’s on the way. And, I want a chili I can throw together during the afternoon, so I have time to answer the steady stream of witches and robots knocking on the door.
And pass out some more high fructose corn syrup. Hey, it’s one day a year.

This recipe isn’t a one pot affair – I use two pots, because I have to use dried beans. I don’t have anything against canned beans; I’ll use them in a pinch, but dried beans have so much more flavor, and they build their own thickened broth. The downside of dried beans is the science of bean cooking – they will never soften if they are cooked with acidic ingredients. Like, um…chili powder and tomatoes, two of my major ingredients. That’s OK – while the beans are cooking, I sauté all the other ingredients, and add them for a last half hour of simmering to bring everything together. (Or an hour of simmering. The crest of the trick-or-treat wave was eight little Frozen Elsas. By the time I looked up from shoveling candy into the little plastic pumpkins shoved at me, my half hour of simmering turned into a whole hour.)

Recipe: Turkey and Dried Black Bean Chili


Turkey and Dried Black Bean Chili

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 quarts of chili 1x


Turkey and Dried Black Bean Chili – a big batch of turkey chili, starting with a pound of dried black beans.




  • 1 pound black beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) water
  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda (optional, but helps soften the beans if you have hard water)

Aromatics, Seasonings, and Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (remove the seeds if you want less heat)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 8 ounces (3/4 bottle) of beer (or chicken stock, water)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Lime wedges for serving


  1. Cook the beans:Pick over the beans to remove any stones or bits of dirt, then rinse. Put the beans, water, halved onion, bay leaves, and baking soda in the dutch oven over high heat. Partially cover the pot and bring the beans to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if the water level drops below the top of the beans.
  2. Cook the aromatics, seasonings, and turkey: While the beans are simmering: Heat the vegetable oil in the large skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the minced onion and jalapeño, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and sauté until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano, and cook until you smell the garlic and spices bloom, about 1 minute. Add the beer and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits of onion and spices, about 2 minutes. Add the turkey and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook the turkey, stirring and breaking up any large chunks of meat, until the turkey loses its pink color, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and wait for the beans to finish cooking.
  3. Combine the beans and turkey: Fish the bay leaves and onion out of the bean pot and discard. Pour the turkey pan into the pot of beans, stir, and simmer for another half an hour to bring the flavors together. Stir in the 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serve, passing the lime wedges at the table.


  • Why not soak the beans? Because lots of sourcestrust say soaking black beans only cuts about 30 minutes from the cooking time, and it washes away a lot of flavor.


  • Category: Sunday dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

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Filed under: Sunday dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

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