Turkey chili with a Mexican mole sauce is a stellar dish that can be made in large batches and taken out of the freezer for quick dinners for busy families. It’s also a premium thing to do with the leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. The mole sauce pairs wonderfully with the turkey and makes it a special and unique chili. Either homemade or purchased mole sauce works in this recipe.
This post may contain affiliate links, and you can read our disclosure information here–
What Kind of Turkey to Use in Chili?
If you are making the chili with leftover turkey from a big feast, a combination of dark and white meat really adds depth and richness of flavor. The leftover turkey can be shredded or just cut into bite size pieces.
If you want to make the turkey part of the chili from scratch, just purchase a package of turkey breast from the store and cut it up into pieces. It will be quite tender in the chile this way and makes an excellent chili.
Some cooks like their chili with ground turkey…that works too. Just cook the ground meat ahead of adding the other ingredients until it is no longer pink.
Last but not least, you can even combine both ground beef and ground turkey to add a little more depth.
Homemade mole sauce vs Prepared mole paste
Mole, pronounced ”MOH-lay” is a dark reddish-brown Mexican sauce typically made from roasting a variety of chile peppers and simmering with onion, chocolate, sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds and other spices. An easy recipe for an excellent mole sauce can be made with a mole spice blend if you don’t want to roast and peel the peppers.
Prepared mole is a thicker paste, which usually cooks together with some added chicken broth. The turkey chili recipe below was made with homemade mole rojo and then again with a prepared mole paste. They were both robust and made steller batches of turkey chili.
I bought some really excellent prepared mole pastes in Denver and from Amazon. Here are my favorites:
Ingredients and Substitutions
As noted above, prepared mole paste can be substituted for homemade mole rojo sauce. Other common substitutions might include:
- Packaged turkey breast instead of leftover turkey pieces
- Bell peppers instead of (or in addition to) carrots
- a mole spice blend instead of mole sauce
- Cojita or other cheese instead of queso fresco
- kidney beans instead of black beans
- vegetable broth or homemade turkey broth instead of chicken bouillon
Slow Cooker Chili vs Stovetop Chili
This is basically a one-pot meal and it doesn’t really matter if you cook it in a crockpot or in a dutch oven on the stovetop. The process is the same: basically add all the ingredients to the pot, stir and cook.
The slow cooker has the advantage of being able to set it and then leave and do other things. The dutch oven has the advantage of being able to taste and adjust at various stages of cooking. I prefer the dutch oven, but I work out of the home so it is easy to tend it.
How to Freeze & Thaw:
The beauty of chili is that you can make it in a big batch and then freeze it for quick and easy weeknight meals. It is especially advantageous in the busy holiday season to pull something out of the freezer that you know will be delicious and please a hungry family.
Once the chili is done, let it cool completely. You can then transfer it into your preferred portion size containers and seal tightly.
It can freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw for about 12-14 hours in the fridge and then reheat in a microwave or on the stovetop until thoroughly heated through. Serve with crumbled cheese, sour cream or chopped scallions.
Turkey Chili with Mole Sauce
- 2 ½ Pounds Leftover turkey meat chopped or shredded; can use purchased turkey breast also
- 1 Large Onion chopped
- 3 Large carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 Cloves garlic minced
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth fresh or canned
- 1 Teaspoon Kosher salt or to-taste
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans drained
- 2 Cups mole sauce homemade or purchased
- ½ Cup Cojita cheese crumbled as garnish
- 1 Cup sour cream optional
- Chopped scallions optional for garnish
- Add all of the ingredients except the cheese and sour cream to a dutch oven or to the slow cooker. Stir everything together.In the slow cooker turn it on to high and cook for 4 hours. In the dutch oven, bring everthing to a boil, reduce heat and simmer over med-low heat for 2 hours or until turkey is no longer pink and ingredients are all melded together.2 1/2 Pounds Leftover turkey meat, 1 Large Onion, 3 Large carrots, 2 Cloves garlic, 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 Teaspoon Kosher salt, 2 15-ounce cans black beans, 2 Cups mole sauce
- If you are freezing, let the chili cool completely and then package into smaller containers and seal tightly. Freeze for up to 3 months.To reheat, thaw the chili in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Serve with crumbled Mexican cheese, sour cream and chopped scallions.1/2 Cup Cojita cheese, 1 Cup sour cream, Chopped scallions