Chili Over Pasta? Cincinnati Skyline Chili & a little history

AllGrowing up in our conventional Italian household, serving this type of sauce over pasta was unheard of–bordering blasphemous! Yet, I can still remember the first time I experienced this incredible, piquant potion poured over pasta—brimming with beans and golden cheeses and spiked with red onions. Heaven! I knew this would soon become a lasting love affair.

Here’s one of my many versions; talk about tried and true. I’ve refined it several times over the years and this version, by far, is my “Cincinnati’s best.”

a little history...

Skyline Chili was founded in 1949 in Cincinnati, Ohio by Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides, Skyline Chili is named for the view of Cincinnati’s skyline that Lambrinides could see from his first restaurant opened in the section of town now known as Price Hill. It is also the “official chili” of many local professional sports teams and venues, including the Cincinnati Reds and Columbus Blue Jackets.

This rich, spicy chocolate brown chili is unique in that it is not chili con carne (meat, tomatoes and beans) Cincinnati-style chili is a sauce usually used over spaghetti or hot dogs, containing a unique spice blend that gives it a very distinct taste. Officially, the recipe for Skyline Chili is a well-kept family secret. However, many Skyline patrons believe that the unique taste of Skyline Chili comes from chocolate and cinnamon, spices common in Greek cuisine’s meat dishes. The general recipe is not unique to Skyline—”Cincinnati-style” chili is sold by several chili parlors in the area as well. All this unfolding of history aside may I say that Mr. Lambrinides created a delicious culinary wonder that’s still one of my all-time favorites. Chili over pasta? This Italian girl says “Si si!!”



2 lbs ground beef

2 cups chopped onions

4 cups beef stock

2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

2 -3 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons cocoa

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons instant minced garlic

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 bay leaves or 1/8 teaspoon bay leaf powder


Brown ground beef and onion. Drain. Add beef stock to beef mixture and simmer 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, simmer uncovered 1 hour. Remove bay leaf, skim off extra fat. Serve over hot spaghetti, or hot dogs in buns for chili dogs. Top with plenty of cheese and other optional toppings. Servings: 10-12

Toppings (optional)

Chopped onion, finely shredded cheddar cheese (certainly NOT optional) kidney beans, sour cream, black olives, red pepper flakes etc…

Chef’s Notes: A Slow cooker (Crock Pot) may also be used. Brown beef & onions, in large skillet, drain. Place all ingredients in cooker and cook on high for 5-6 hours.


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10 Comments Add yours

  1. yumm this looks so good!

    1. Thanks, Lynn! It’s a yummy household favorite!

      1. It looks so nice! I mean yummm really

    1. Thank you! It’s so very tasty! Chili on pasta…who knew? 🙂

      1. Yes I mean chili and pasta both are yummy but in one dish? Who would have thought! 😊

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  3. Bill says:

    have you ever thought of doing a book like that?

    1. Maybe one day, Bill 😉

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