3-Alarm Turkey Chili (Dairy-Free)

With fall in full swing, I wanted to make an easy, hot meal that would satisfy my foodie friends but still mesh with my healthy sensibilities. Nothing says autumn like hearty soups and spicy comfort food. What could be more in line with both of those things than chili? In my attempt to make a healthy, dairy-free version, I combined lean ground turkey and pinto beans with coconut milk, three different kinds of hot pepper and the perhaps surprising twist of unsweetened cocoa powder. Three satisfied ladies can attest that this recipe is not only good for you but just as, if not more tasty than traditional beef chili.

Before telling you how to make it, you know I have to drop a little nutrition knowledge on you. Beans are one of the healthiest complete proteins out there. In a recent USDA study, researchers measured the antioxidant properties of over 100 common foods. Three of the top four were types of beans, including pinto and red kidney beans. Unlike their animal counterparts, beans are a full of fiber and phytonutrients—naturally occurring chemical compounds found only in plants that are proven to have important disease fighting and antioxidant properties.

I’m a bean-believer, but know that not everyone is. My chili recipe is a great way to work this superfood into your diet without sacrificing flavor. You could even amp up your bean intake and keep this recipe totally vegetarian by replacing the ground turkey meat with another can of beans (remember red kidney beans made the top 4 list as well!). Stick to my dairy-free ingredients and this recipe will also be entirely vegan.

(Makes 4-6 servings)


  • 8 Tbs Earth Balance © buttery sticks*, divided in two parts
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour l lb ground lean turkey meat
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 Tbs chipotle pepper flakes
  • 1 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 small can tomato paste 1 (14.5 oz) can pinto beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For garnish**:

  • 2 avocados, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup green onions, diced

How it’s made:

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add 4 Tbs of your Earth Balance© buttery sticks (don’t use their whipped spread—it won’t work as well). Add your ground turkey meat and cook until it turns golden brown—about 3-5 min. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same saucepan, reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 4 Tbs of “butter” and ¼ cup of flour. Stir to combine, forming your roux. Once that thickens into a paste, add your onions and sauté for 3-5 min until translucent. Add both bell peppers and your garlic, sautéing for another 3-5 minutes. Add all of your spices (chili, chipotle pepper, cumin, coriander, cocoa, and cayenne) and stir for another few minutes until combined and aromatic.
  3. Add coconut milk and stir to combine. Let this come up to a simmer (little bubbles) then add canned tomatoes and tomatoes paste. Add pinto beans and browned turkey meat, reduce heat to low and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it needs more kick, add in some extra heat (chili, chipotle or cayenne—pick your poison).
  4. When you’re ready to serve, scoop this hearty soup into bowls and garnish with avocado slices and green onions. If you don’t have a dairy allergy (lucky duck!) add a couple spoonfuls of non-fat Greek yogurt. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips and nosh away!

*This is to keep it dairy-free but, let it be known, I firmly believe butter is better for you than any sort of substitute like margarine or vegan spreads. Why? Simple, they are full of chemicals. Butter is straight-forward and—when used in moderation—not unhealthy. I encourage you to use the real deal if you don’t have an allergy!

**If you aren’t worried about keeping this dairy-free, I highly recommend adding a couple tablespoons of non-fat, plain Greek yogurt. It will make this hearty dish even tastier—and Greek yogurt is super high in muscle-mending protein.