Panera’s turkey chili recipe is one of our favorite dishes that we have made at home.
The combination of flavors and textures is amazing.
You get savory meat and veggies cooked down until they’re tender, then you add some spices and cheese to create an addictive sauce.
We love how easy it is to prepare this dish since there aren’t many steps involved.
All you need to do is chop up your vegetables into small pieces, brown your ground beef, drain off excess grease, stir everything together, cook it all in your slow cooker or pot, top it with cheese and let it simmer until it’s hot.
And when you eat it, you’ll know why we say it tastes like heaven!
What Makes Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe Unique?
There isn’t anything too out-of-the-ordinary about this recipe, but Panera does make their own seasoning blend which gives it some extra flavor.
We highly recommend using their seasoning mix instead of buying premade spice blends because it adds another layer of flavor that will really enhance your meal.
Another thing that sets Panera’s turkey chili apart from other recipes is its use of beans.
They don’t just throw any old can of beans into the chili – they actually use black beans specifically.
Black beans contain more fiber than regular canned beans so they give the chili a thicker texture while still being very flavorful.
If you want a lighter version of this recipe, try adding white kidney beans instead.
Black beans also offer a lot of nutritional benefits such as protein, iron, folate, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
These nutrients help keep us healthy by keeping bones strong, muscles flexible, skin smooth, hair shiny, nails strong, and heart pumping blood through our bodies.
So if you’re looking for a vegetarian option that provides these same health benefits without sacrificing taste, this recipe is definitely worth trying out.
Check out the video below to see how to make Panera’s turkey chili recipe step by step:
- Add 1/4 cup oil (or butter) to pan over medium heat.
- Once oil has heated, add 2 minced garlic cloves to pan along with onions and carrots.
- Cook onion mixture for 4 minutes before stirring in diced tomatoes and tomato paste
- Stir together mixture well and reduce heat to low.
- In a separate bowl combine remaining spices, salt, pepper, cumin powder, and paprika.
- Mix spices evenly in a separate container.
How to make Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe
- Combine all dry ingredients (except for cheese) in large mixing bowl.
- Whisk wet ingredients together in a second bowl.
- Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Pour entire mixture into crockpot or Dutch oven and sprinkle shredded Monterey Jack cheese evenly across the surface.
- Set Crock Pot to high setting and leave alone overnight or for 8 hours on low setting.
- When ready to serve, remove lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
The best part of making Panera’s turkey chili is watching everyone enjoy it once it comes out of the Crock Pot.
Everyone loves how it smells, how it looks, and especially how good it feels on your tongue.
If you’ve never tried cooking something in your CrockPot before, here are some tips to remember:
- Make sure to read instructions first before starting to cook.
- Use only half of the amount called for in the recipe unless otherwise stated.
- Allow the product to be fully thawed before placing in the CrockPot.
- Turn the temperature setting down while cooking to prevent burning.
- Don’t forget to set a timer so you won’t burn your food.
What Are The Key Ingredients In Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe?
The base of the recipe comes from Panera’s Turkey Chili Soup Mix which includes corn, green beans, red bell peppers, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic powder, cumin, chili seasoning, and salt.
These ingredients combine well to create a delicious soup-like mixture that fills you up without making you feel bloated (unlike other soups).
To give the chili more flavor, you can use any type of dried herbs you want as long as you keep them whole rather than powdered.
We’ve used oregano, basil, and thyme here but you could also try rosemary, sage, parsley, chives, etc.
For additional texture and flavor, you can toss in shredded chicken or even leftover roast turkey breast if you happen to have it around.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of chopping up raw meat, you can just buy pre-cooked rotisserie chickens instead and shred them yourself for added freshness.
One last thing – if you want to save money, you can replace the canned tomato paste with crushed tomatoes.
Just be sure not to overdo it because it will take away from the chili’s depth of flavor.
How Can I Make Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe Healthier?
The main reason we chose Panera’s turkey chili recipe was because it seemed pretty healthy.
We knew that their chicken chili had no added salt (which is good), but we weren’t sure about its other ingredients.
So, we decided to look through their menu online to see if they offered any options that would be less processed than their original recipe.
Sure enough, we found a couple of things that sounded great.
- They offer a Turkey Chili without beans which has only 1/3 cup of beans per serving, compared to Panera’s version which has 2 cups of beans per serving.
- It also doesn’t contain rice, which makes us happy because rice is known to cause digestive problems in many people.
- And finally, it contains more lean protein, which means you won’t feel as hungry after eating it.
So, what else could we change? Well, we still wanted to keep the flavor and texture of Panera’s turkey chili, so we didn’t want to mess around too much with it.
But we did decide to reduce the amount of oil used by half – instead of using olive oil, we reduced it to just 3 tablespoons total.
That should help cut back on calories and fat while keeping the taste intact.
After doing all these changes, here’s what we came up with:
- Turkey chili without beans – 4 servings (about 6 ounces each)
- Olive oil – 3 tablespoons total (instead of 5)
- Ground turkey breast – 1 pound (4 ounces) trimmed of visible fat
- Onion – 1 large chopped onion
- Green pepper – 1 medium diced green bell pepper
- Red pepper – 1 diced red bell pepper
- Celery – ½ stalk finely sliced celery
- Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Black pepper – ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- Chili powder – ½ teaspoon chili powder
- Dried oregano – ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- Salt – ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Lime juice – 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Low-fat cheddar cheese – shredded low-fat cheddar cheese topping optional
How Can I Make Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe Spicier?
When you first open the package of frozen ground turkey, it will probably smell pretty bland.
To fix that, take out the bag of fresh herbs (we used thyme) and mix them with the ground turkey as you are preparing it.
Then season the mixture with salt and pepper before adding it to your pan.
To spice things up even more, you could also try sprinkling crushed red peppers onto the meat while it cooks.
Or if you want to make it extra spicy, just go ahead and add jalapeño peppers instead of the mild ones in the original recipe.
If you really want to push yourself, you might even throw in some chipotle chile powder too.
If you don’t have any of these ingredients handy, no problem – you can always use dried basil, oregano, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and/or black pepper.
Just remember to keep track of what goes where so you don’t end up mixing up the spices when you add them to your cooking liquid later on.
What Other Recipes Can I Make With The Ingredients In Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe?
The best part about this delicious meal is its versatility.
You can pair it with just about anything.
From tacos to salads, this chili will go well with almost any cuisine out there.
- Beef Taco Salad – Use leftover taco seasoning mix to make this salad even more flavorful.
- Add chopped tomatoes, sour cream, shredded lettuce, diced onion, cilantro, and shredded cheddar cheese for extra flavor.
- Taco Bowls – Make these bowls by adding fresh tortilla chips, shredded cabbage, and sliced avocado.
- Top them with the leftovers.
- Mushroom Tacos – For added protein, add grilled mushrooms to the mixture before cooking.
- Serve with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.
- Sloppy Joes – Mix up the sloppy joe ingredients (ground beef, onions, peppers) with the rest of the chili ingredients and serve over hamburger buns.
- Garnish with additional shredded cheese if desired.
Can I Freeze Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe?
Yes, you can freeze any meal or side dish you want to save for later.
Just follow these simple instructions below:
- Prepare your meal as usual but instead of cooking it on the stovetop, put it in the freezer once it’s cooled.
- If you don’t mind letting it sit overnight, even better!
- Once it has been frozen solid, transfer it to Ziploc bags so that it doesn’t leak out while freezing.
- Defrost it in the refrigerator before reheating it using either microwave heating or by placing it back onto the stovetop over medium heat.
If you are looking for more information about how to freeze meals safely and efficiently, check out our guide here: How To Freeze Meals Safely & Efficiently | No-Cook Food Prep Made Easy.
This recipe is also great if you live in an apartment setting where space may be tight.
You can prep all your ingredients ahead of time, place them in the fridge, and then just pop them in your slow cooker or pan when you’re ready to start cooking.
What Should I Serve With Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe?
This meal goes great with anything that has a similar texture as well as a nice flavor profile.
If you want something lighter than soup, try serving it over rice.
Or if you don’t feel like making rice but still want a full-flavored meal, go ahead and serve it over pasta instead.
Either way, Panera’s turkey chili recipe will be delicious no matter what you pair it with.
- Baked potatoes
- Fried tortillas
If you choose to use fried tortillas, just remember to keep them separate from other ingredients so they don’t become soggy too quickly.
How Long Does Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe Take To Make?
If you want to be sure that your Panera’s turkey chili recipe has been prepared correctly, then you can use a digital scale to weigh out each ingredient so you don’t end up wasting any ingredients.
Then, simply follow these instructions below to learn what to expect during the process.
- Step 1: Chop up your onion, green peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and garlic.
- Place them in separate bowls.
- The more finely chopped your vegetables are (like onions), the better.
- Step 2: In another bowl, mix together the ground beef, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes and chipotle powder.
- Mix well.
- Step 3: Add about half of your minced vegetables to the bowl with the ground beef mixture.
- Stir well to combine.
- Step 4: Transfer the contents of the bowl back to the other bowl where you’ve already cut up your remaining vegetables.
- Toss everything very well to ensure that every piece gets coated with the seasoning mix.
- Step 5: Fill the bottom of an 8-quart crockpot with water and place the seasoning mix inside.
- Cover the crockpot.
- Set aside.
- Step 6: Brown the ground beef mixture over medium heat in a large skillet.
- Drain off any fat while stirring frequently.
- Once no fat remains, transfer the entire pan to the crockpot.
- Step 7: Pour all of the liquid from Step 4 into the skillet.
- Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits of meat stuck to the bottom.
- Discard the liquid.
- Step 8: Bring the liquids back to a boil in the skillet before adding it to the crockpot along with the shredded chicken.
- Cook on high for three hours.
- Remove the lid and continue cooking for 30 minutes longer to thicken the chili.
- Step 9: Before serving, ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with sour cream and grated cheese.
Once you finish preparing the recipe above, remember that it will taste even better if you freeze it ahead of time.
Just store the leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for two weeks, or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and seal it in the freezer for four months.
Enjoy it as much as you’d like!
What Are The Steps To Make Panera’s Turkey Chili Recipe?
The first step to making Panera’s turkey chili recipe is prepping your ingredients.
To start, cut up your onion, green bell pepper, celery, red bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and carrots in slices so they will be easier to dice later.
Then, using a chef knife, mince each piece of the onions, green peppers, celery, carrots, and garlic separately.
After that, slice the jalapeños into thin strips (or leave them whole if you prefer).
Once you’ve finished chopping all your ingredients, put them into separate bowls.
Next comes cooking.
If you don’t own a slow cooker, just use any large pot with a lid.
Place your chopped vegetables inside, followed by about half-a-pound of ground turkey, seasonings, and water.
Cook over medium heat while stirring occasionally until the liquid has evaporated and the meat starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
This usually takes between 15 minutes and 1 hour depending on your stovetop setup.
Once the meat is done, turn off the burner and transfer the contents from the pot to your blender.
Add two cups of chicken broth, one cup of heavy cream, one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and one teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Blend well before transferring back into your original pot.
Now you can either serve it immediately or store it in the fridge overnight.
When you want to reheat the chili, remove the lid and bring it to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and let it simmer for 3 hours.
Remove the lid and sprinkle in one cup of shredded Mexican cheese blend after the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
Turn off the heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, and guacamole.
- Dutch oven
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1 pound turkey ground
- 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 jalapeno deseeded and finely chopped
- 12 ounces tomato paste
- 15.5 ounces kidney beans canned, drained and rinsed
- 15.5 ounces garbanzo beans canned, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup edamame frozen
- ¾ cup carrot chopped (1 small)
- ½ cup corn fresh or frozen
- 4 cups beef broth or stock
- 1 tsp oregano dry
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt more to taste
- Preheat the Dutch oven over medium heat on the stove.
- Cook for 15 minutes, chopping and stirring frequently, with the oil, turkey, onion, and jalapeno.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and leave to cook for 45 minutes.