On Cincinnati’s 3-Way Skyline Chili

So as might know from a previous post, I made chili this week, and while Frankie and I enjoy eating chili by itself, we were discussing leftovers and Frankie got this super crazy (but really awesome) idea! Now, what you also may (or may not) know is that I am originally from Cincinnati (prior to Hong Kong, of course) and anyone familiar with the city (or the state of Ohio, for that matter) might know that we Ohioans are known to do something a little unorthodox with our chili, as shown below: img_2857

May I present Cooking Maggie’s take on a 5-way Cincinnati-chili! Now, if you’re from Ohio or know anything about the constant debate of “Skyline vs. Gold Star Chili”—the equivalent of which would be Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s for deep dish pizza here in Chicago—you should know that I grew up on both, but far prefer Skyline and I’m sticking to it! But don’t judge this book by its cover if you’re not familiar with this concept of chili on spaghetti. Yes, it looks…weird, for lack of a better term, but it’s actually pretty darn delicious! My favorite part is the cheese (naturally): soft, fluffy, sharp cheddar. It has, HAS to be finely grated or it’s not going to have the same effect texture wise. And this dish is anything but bland: it’s soft, it’s crunchy, it’s meaty, it’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s just…mm mm good! And there are tons of variations you make!

The traditional 3-way:pasta, chili, and cheese.
The 4-way: pasta, chili, onions OR kidney beans, and cheese.
The 5-way: pasta, chili, onions, kidney beans, and cheese.

Oh, and then you top it all off with some good ol’ fashioned hot sauce (Tobasco, Crystal, Frank’s, doesn’t matter, so long as you like it on your food)!

I would argue though that this dish, or at least the idea of it, is an acquired taste. Not everyone is going to like it, and I respect that, but I wanted to diversify a little, and expose a little bit of my hometown culture. Plus, how many times do you see people making Skyline at home, FROM SCRATCH?! I mean, this is about as unique as it gets! [Last Note: If you’re looking for an amazing Cincinnati/Ohio made ice cream: Graeter’s. It’s the best homemade ice cream, again, in my opinion, and the best flavor is the Black Raspberry Chip. The secret? They don’t use basic chocolate chips…no no! They pour liquid chocolate into their ice cream batter while it’s being churned, and the paddles break up the chocolate as it freezes, which is how you get their signature and inconsistent chocolate chunks! I mean, it’s the only ice cream that allows me to play with my food, and after twenty odd years of practice, I am a MASTER chocolate chip excavator!] So with that, I will leave the recipe below and hope that some of you brave souls will give it a go! The great thing is, most of the toppings are optional (even the cheese, but that’s just blasphemous in my eyes, IT’S THE BEST PART!). From my hometown to yours, Cooking Maggie Out!

img_2855Cincinnati-Style Chili


  • 1 cup of your favorite chili
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped/diced (not minced)
  • 8 0z spaghetti
  • 1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese (I like Cracker Barrel cheese myself)
  • Optional (if not included in chili already): 1/4 cup Kidney beans, drained
  • Optional: Favorite hot sauce.


  1. Salt some water, bring to boil, and cook your pasta. When done, drain, and set aside.
  2. Heat up your chili in a sauce pan (or microwave, just so long as it’s hot).
  3. Shred your cheese in a bowl, set aside.
  4. When pasta is done, make your plate! Pasta on the bottom, chili on the pasta, onion, (and/or) kidney beans (if they aren’t in the chili already), AND CHEESE!!!
  5. Optional: Top with hot sauce to taste.




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