Italian-Inspired Spicy Turkey Sausage Chili with Fresh Mozzarella Recipe

Yasmin Fahr


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ large or 1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound spicy turkey sausage, casing removed
  • Two 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1 rosemary sprig, leaves removed and chopped
  • 4 basil sprigs, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Pinch of oregano, or more to taste
  • Dried red chile flakes, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Dash of balsamic vinegar
  • One 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more as needed
  • Fresh mozzarella, for garnish

This recipe almost developed itself as I tried to figure out how to incorporate my leftover ball of fresh mozzarella in chili. I decided to replace many of the ingredients in a traditional chili with the Italian counterpart. Spices like cumin, cinnamon, paprika, and garlic powder were replaced with red chile flakes, dried oregano, fresh basil, fresh rosemary and garlic. Cannellini beans stood in for black and kidney beans, while balsamic vinegar and lemon zest took over for beer and cider vinegar. Cheddar? Who needs it when you have freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and hunks of melting fresh mozzarella? 

And, to top it off, I ate the leftovers with pasta — and it was fantastic.


Click here to see Recipe SWAT Team: Chili. 


In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the onions and cook until translucent, lowering the heat to medium and stirring occasionally, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, and stirring to brown all of the meat. Cook for about 3-4 more minutes, then add the tomatoes. 

After a couple of minutes, when the tomatoes soften, break them up with a wooden spoon and combine with the meat. Add the herbs, spices and lemon zest, stirring well. Simmer for about 20 minutes, then add the balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, adding the beans for the last 5 minutes, or until it has reached desired thickness. 

Ladle into bowls, top with the basil, and the 2 cheeses, using your hands to rip up the mozzarella. It's always a good idea to serve the extra mozzarella on the side as it's incredibly tempting to continue adding more to the chili. If desired, you can also serve with a piece of toasted Italian country bread. 


Calories per serving:

450 calories

Dietary restrictions:

High Fiber Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Alcohol Free, No Sugar Added

Daily value:



  • Fat 72g 111%
  • Carbs 166g 55%
  • Saturated 15g 77%
  • Fiber 54g 218%
  • Trans 2g
  • Sugars 49g
  • Monounsaturated 33g
  • Polyunsaturated 16g
  • Protein 135g 269%
  • Cholesterol 347mg 116%
  • Sodium 4,683mg 195%
  • Calcium 1,114mg 111%
  • Magnesium 494mg 123%
  • Potassium 6,476mg 185%
  • Iron 28mg 157%
  • Zinc 21mg 142%
  • Phosphorus 1,590mg 227%
  • Vitamin A 426µg 47%
  • Vitamin C 226mg 377%
  • Thiamin (B1) 10mg 665%
  • Riboflavin (B2) 2mg 129%
  • Niacin (B3) 33mg 165%
  • Vitamin B6 4mg 216%
  • Folic Acid (B9) 469µg 117%
  • Vitamin B12 6µg 100%
  • Vitamin D 0µg 0%
  • Vitamin E 17mg 87%
  • Vitamin K 105µg 131%
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