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Gluten-free, vegetarian Skyline Cincinnati chili recipe

When I was younger I used to love Skyline chili done as a 3-way, and would get it frozen from my local grocery store and serve it over spaghetti and top with cheese. It was quick and satisfying. Being a mostly non-meat eater these days, I still craved the flavor and texture without the animal. I searched online, experimented and combined different recipes I found in trying to duplicate the Skyline chili recipe with a vegetarian version.

I was in Cincinnati for Thanksgiving and fell off the vegetarian wagon and ended up visiting a Skyline for a delicious plate of chili cheese fries, and it was fabulous. Skyline actually serves many gluten-free options, which they list here. Be sure not to order the vegetarian chili as theirs is not gluten-free, nor is the spaghetti or hot dog buns. I would also take the extra precaution and ask them to change their gloves with preparing your food, since cross-contamination is always a possibility when eating somewhere with gluten on the premises.

For my homemade and much healthier gluten-free version, I feel the texture and taste came out very similar, and even if it does not taste exactly like the real thing, it sure tastes good, and makes it difficult not to take seconds. I honestly could not tell the difference from the meat-based version with this smooth texture.


3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
4 cups veggie stock or broth (I use Celifibr bouillon cubes)
16-oz can tomato sauce
2-3 T chili powder
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 t worcestershire sauce
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 T brown sugar
2 t garlic
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t cumin
1 t oregano
1/2 t allspice
1/4 t cloves
1 bay leaf
gluten-free spaghetti (I use Tinkyada)
shredded cheddar cheese and finely chopped onion for topping

This sounds bizarre but to get the proper texture, put the chopped onion and 2 cans of beans in the blender, and pureed until smooth, but not liquefied. I realize a bean and onion smoothie does not sound appealing, but trust me, this works, keep reading…

Empty this mixture into a pot, and then blend the 3rd can of beans more coarsely in the blender. You may need to add some of the broth to the blender for each batch to make it easier to mix.

Add the broth to the beans and onion mixture in a large pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally. By this time it will have thickened and taste delicious!!

Cook spaghetti just before serving and spoon the chili onto the pasta, serve topped with cheese and/or onions.

I prefer mine served 3-way on spaghetti and shredded cheddar cheese. I think I will have my leftovers tomorrow for lunch on a baked potato.

* Always be sure to confirm all your ingredients are gluten-free.

“Author Information: Anne Steib, Chicago, IL
Anne Steib
Click here to email Anne.”

About Anne Steib

Anne Steib
  • Katie says:

    This is a great recipe–thanks so much! I put in some TSP flakes (did not soak them first) and they added some really great “meaty” texture to the bean/onion base.

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