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Cincinnati chili with spaghetti squash — comfort food the gluten-free way

Patricia Conte has a background in marketing communications and works as an independent writer. In 2010, she was given the opportunity to combine her love of writing and food when she started as a contributing writer for the Food channel...

Swap pasta for spaghetti squash in this hearty Cincinnati-style chili dish

This version of the famous Cincinnati chili is gleefully gluten-free thanks to using spaghetti squash instead of traditional pasta.

Swap pasta for spaghetti squash in this hearty Cincinnati-style chili dish
Image: Patricia Conte/SheKnows

If you’ve never had Cincinnati-style chili, you need to do something about that. However, you don’t have to leave your house and head to Ohio. Make this gluten-free version in the comfort of your own home with spaghetti squash instead of regular spaghetti. Mix in beans, beef, cheese and onions for great flavor.

Cincinnati-style chili is made so many different ways in homes and restaurants everywhere. There are also a few different ways you can serve this dish — with or without onions or beans, or even with or without the cheese (but why would you leave that out?). Typically this dish is made with traditional spaghetti, but to keep this gluten free (and get in some extra veggies), I used spaghetti squash. What a fun treat for family and friends.

Swap pasta for spaghetti squash in this hearty Cincinnati-style chili dish
Image: Patricia Conte/SheKnows

Note: Gluten can be found in many different foods and products, from ketchup to soy sauce to candy and seasonings. While SheKnows tries to ensure that these recipes are gluten-free, carefully read the ingredient labels of all food and food products you use for these recipes to ensure they are also gluten-free.

Cincinnati-style chili with spaghetti squash recipe

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 40 minutes | Total time: 50 minutes


  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion, plus additional 1/3 cup for topping
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 10 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for topping


  1. To a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground beef, and increase the heat slightly. Cook, stirring, until browned.
  2. Reduce the heat back to medium. Add the tomato paste, and mix it into the other ingredients until it breaks down.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and beef broth to the pan, then the Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the kidney beans and all the remaining seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for a few minutes, then reduce the heat. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. As the mixture simmers, cook the spaghetti squash. Place the whole, scored squash on a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high heat for about 5 minutes, then remove. When cool to the touch, carefully cut the squash in half, vertically, with a sharp knife. Scrape out the seeds and strands.
  6. Place both halves cut side down in a microwave-safe dish, and add about 1-1/2 inches of water. Microwave on high heat for 10 minutes, then remove.
  7. When cool to the touch, use a fork to scrape out the inside of the squash in a downward motion to remove the spaghetti-like strands. Be careful, as the inside may still be hot.
  8. Transfer the warm spaghetti squash to individual plates, and top with the tomato mixture. Add the onion and shredded cheese on top, and serve immediately.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Swap pasta for spaghetti squash in this hearty Cincinnati-style chili dish
Image: Patricia Conte/SheKnows

gluten-free friday
Image: SheKnows

More gluten-free recipes

Southwestern-style spaghetti squash bake
Spaghetti squash with grilled chicken, roasted tomatoes and Parmesan
Spaghetti squash with tomato-mushroom sauce

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