Skyline Time

Skyline Chili- Cincinnati, OhioAnyone who knows me, or for that matter has spoken more than 2 words to me, knows that I absolutely love Cincinnati for one reason: Skyline Chili. Seriously the stuff is amazing. Yes, I know there’s meat in it…but it’s the one thing I break for.

Skyline is one of those weird things that only people from Cincinnati (or the surrounding areas) understand. It’s not like most chili (chunky, spicy, served with crackers). This chili is a whole different species. It’s thinned out, sweet, served over spaghetti, and absolutely wonderful. It’s served as a 3-way (spaghetti, chili, and cheese), a 4-way (spaghetti, chili, onions or beans, and cheese), and my Dad’s personal favorite, the 5-way (spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, and cheese). It’s also served on fries and coneys. Oh, the possibilities.

Imagine my excitement when I found “Cincinnati ‘Skyline’ Chili” staring back at me from The Happy Herbivore cookbook. I think my heart stopped for a minute.

Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh. I can’t contain my excitement. Here it is, the moment you’ve surely all been waiting for:

Altered from The Happy Herbivore



1 medium Vidalia onion
2 heaping tbsps minced garlic
3 tbsps chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinammon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (see below)*
1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 roll Gimme Lean Vegan Beef (Or some Vegan Beef substitute)

Browning "Beef."


In medium saucepan, whisk together soy sauce, 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce, garlic powder, ginger, and pepper with 2 cups of water.

Bring to boil and simmer for 1 minute. (This is the broth, you can store it in a container for later use or use it right away. See below.)*

Line a stock pot with a thin layer of water and saute onion and garlic until onion is tender.

Add vegan beef to stock pot and brown lightly, breaking up the “beef.”*

Whisk chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, and cocoa powder together with the broth you just made until evenly incorporated. Add to stock pot.

Add bay leaf, 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce, tomatoes, and “Beef.” Stir.

Bring to a light boil over high heat. Cover and reduce to low heat.

Simmer for 30-35 minutes, breaking up “beef” as it becomes more tender.*

Add additional water to brother if necessary to thin out chili.*

Cheese Coney Style!

Cheese Coney Style



*But really, let’s be honest. I’m a terrible vegetarian. I like to cook vegan/vegetarian as much as possible and I am technically a vegetarian, but there’s some things I just can’t say no to. So here’s the thing. I used regular Worcestershire Sauce because I was running short on time and I’ve always cheated a little when cooking. Here’s the deal with making vegan Worcestershire: Whisk together 6 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp tamari, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tsp mustard, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, a dash of cayenne, dash of allspice. Add salt if desired and store in airtight container in the fridge. Looking back, it wasn’t that hard and I probabably should have done it. Next time, I promise. Don’t judge me, please.


* I made the broth ahead of time and stored it in an airtight contained. It’s easy and takes about 3 minutes. The Happy Herbivore calls this broth “No-Beef Broth” and uses it for a lot of her recipes, which I adore.
*I’ve never actually used vegan beef before. But I suggest browning it a bit before you cook it. It takes a lot of time to break it up into reasonably sized pieces for the chilli. The pieces should be really small and evenly incorporated throughout the chili. It will take a lot of work! (My lovely assistant Cory did that for me.)
*You should know when it’s done by how incorporated the “beef” is throughout the mixture.
*My chili was pretty thick when I finished. I added about 1/2 cup of water. If you’ve eaten Skyline before, you’ll know how much to add. If not, see the picture below.
Double Coneys

Cory's double coney onion ring extravaganza!


Seriously. Awesome. It’s not identical to Skyline, but it’s damn good. It’s sweet, thinned out, and everything I want in a chili.  I served it on veggie dogs with mustard and cheese. It’s a coney! I also made onion rings. YUM. The recipe makes a lot, so I froze half and ate the other half as leftovers for the week.
I felt like I was at home! And I didn’t event have to break vegetarian to eat it!
Do you break vegetarian/vegan for anything?
Dig in,

9 thoughts on “Skyline Time

  1. I really really miss Skyline, but since I moved to England have been trying to eat mostly vegan, I didn’t think it was an option. However, I’d been toying with the idea of using the same sauce, spaghetti, but making it with green lentils. I got the idea from another blogger who made sloppy joes with lentils, and I didn’t miss the beef in that so I was thinking of trying it in Cincy chili? Anyway, love your blog! I’m from Dayton and went to school at Indiana State, so I can really identify with you!

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  7. Have you ever used the seasoning packets of “Cincinnati Chili” seasoning with the “beef”? I’ve recently move to the Netherlands and have so many Skyline seasoning packets my family from OH has sent me but I’ve never made it with anything other than ground beef. But would love love love to make it for my vege friends.

    Any tips to get the “beef” to come out in a texture as much like actual mince beef as possible?


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