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Tequila and Lime Turkey Chili

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Tequila and Lime Turkey Chili

OK everyone, put on your game hat and pull out the tequila ’cause it’s game time! What could possibly be better fare for the Super Bowl than this tequila and lime turkey chili? It’s hearty, it’s meaty, it’s easy, it’s boozy, and it is Deeelicious with a capital D (and some extra “e”s apparently).

I found an adaptation of this chili from America’s Test Kitchen a couple of months ago over on Pink Parsley and I was so enamored with it that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Slow Cooker Revolution, the cookbook that the recipe originates from. Based solely on this recipe (well, and my love of all things America’s Test Kitchen of course), we decided to get this book for my sister-in-law. If anyone could benefit from some slow cooker recipes, it’s the parent of a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old. But personally, I think everyone should have a slow cooker and this cookbook, so I was pretty psyched when we got a copy for Christmas as well.

onion, limes, garlic, jalapeno

chili powder, ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika, chili pepper flakes, dried oregano

As much as I love the turkey chili recipe that we came up with a while back, I’m kind of obsessed with the tequila lime chili. We’ve made it several times in the last couple of months and every time I lamented the lack of time to take some pictures, because I really wanted to share it with you. It just seemed criminal not to. Yes, it really is that good. And now we’ve finally had some daylight to shoot some photos, and just in time for the big game!


The tequila is subtle, but you can tell it’s there. It’s added both before the chili goes in the slow cooker to infuse the turkey with its flavor, and right before serving to give an extra boost of flavor. The lime brightens up the chili and the acidity opens the rest of the flavors up, making everything taste fresh and absolutely amazing. Wondering about the first step of making a paste out of a piece of bread and milk? That’s called a panade and prevents the meat from drying out during the long cooking time (we did that for these meatballs too).

Tequila and Lime Turkey Chili

So even though this recipe may require some more prep work at the beginning compared to some other slow cooker recipes, it is absolutely worth it. And it’s perfect for game day. While the chili braises in the slow cooker, you can get to work on the pineapple cucumber guacamole, a healthy five layer dip with chili tortilla chips, smoky chipotle salsa with pan-roasted tomatillos, and the most fabulous brownies e-v-e-r. As an added bonus, you can console/celebrate the outcome of the game the next day with leftovers (if there are any). Even if you couldn’t care less about the outcome of the game, nothing beats a little tequila at lunchtime!

Tequila and Lime Turkey Chili

Tequila and Lime Turkey Chili

Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution with inspiration from Pink Parsley

Don't use ground turkey breast (also labeled 99% fat free) for this recipe - it will dry out too much. If you don't have ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, and chipotle chili powder, you can substitute with regular chili powder.

If you're feeling inspired to make a margarita while you've already got the tequila out (may as well, right?), this recipe is delicious and very easy.


  • 1 slice sandwich bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup tequila, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus extra as needed
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

For serving:

  • fresh cilantro
  • sharp cheddar cheese or pepperjack cheese
  • tortilla chips
  • extra lime juice


  1. Mash the bread and milk into a paste in a large bowl using a fork. Mix in the ground turkey, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño, and cook until they are softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the chili powder, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, ground chipotle chili powder, chili pepper flakes, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the turkey and cook, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.
  4. To the slow cooker, add the diced tomatoes with their juices, pinto beans, 3 tablespoons of the tequila, soy sauce, honey, and chipotles. Cover and cook on low until the turkey is tender, 4 to 6 hours.
  5. Turn off the slow cooker and allow the chili to settle about 5 minutes. Use a large spoon to skim the fat off the surface. Break up any remaining large pieces of turkey with a spoon. Stir in the remaining tequila, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, tequila, and lime juice as desired.