If You Aren’t Topping Your Spaghetti With Chili, You Should Be

Take a tip from our friends in Cincinnati

A pile of cheese doesn't hurt, either. 

If you’re like most people, you probably only think of spaghetti being used in Italian dishes, like spaghetti with meatballs or carbonara. But if the spaghetti doughnut hasn’t made it abundantly clear, once you take the Italian angle out of the equation, the possibilities are infinite. Case in point: the Cincinnati tradition of topping a heaping pile of spaghetti with chili.

Many restaurants in the Cincinnati area (most famously Blue Ash and Skyline) serve the local version of chili, which (like its cousin in Detroit) more closely resembles a meat sauce than the beany, soupy version you might be used to. It’s traditionally made with ground beef; spices including cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne, cloves, and allspice; onions; and a little tomato. It has a rich, savory flavor that’s completely unique. It also happens to pair really well with spaghetti.

In Cincinnati, topping spaghetti with chili is an artform. You can take it as-is, or you can get it Three-Way (topped with a heap of shredded Cheddar); Four-Way (topped with Cheddar and onions or beans); or Five-Way (Cheddar, onions, and beans). At Blue Ash, you can even go Six-Way, with fried pickles or sliced jalapenos added on.


Needless to say, this whole arrangement is extremely delicious, and it’s so popular that you can even buy all the components online if you want to replicate the experience at home. But even if you’re not willing to go that far, we urge you to consider pouring your next bowl of chili over a plate of spaghetti instead of just eating it like soup. Your life will never be the same.