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Fall is here and that means it’s chili season! We joined our Lawson’s Finest Taproom Manager, Mark Leopold, in the kitchen for his take on Cincinnati Chili featuring Mad River Maple.


Cincinnati Chili was created by Macedonian brothers, Tom and John Kiradjieff who immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1920s. Together they opened a restaurant known as Empress Chili in 1922 where they served their unique recipe. What sets this style of chili apart from others is the combination of spices like cinnamon and clove as well as the various “ways” it can be served.

The “Ways” to Serve Cincinnati Chili

  • 2 way Chili served over a beef hot dog.
  • 3 way Chili served over a beef hot dog with shredded cheddar cheese.
  • 4 way Chili served over a beef hot dog with diced onions and shredded cheddar cheese.
  • 5 way Chili served over a beef hot dog with red kidney beans, diced onions, and cheddar cheese otherwise known as “the works.”

Other options

The Kiradjieff brothers traditionally served this chili over spaghetti but that is not the only way one can enjoy this meal. You can also eat it like a traditional chili in a bowl or follow our recipe and serve it on a beef hot dog making it a Coney!


4-6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white onion finely chopped plus one more onion for topping
  • .5 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • .25 oz ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 6 oz chicken broth
  • 6 oz tomato sauce
  • 4 oz Lawson’s Finest Mad River Maple
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1 lb ground beef (85/15)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Hot dogs
  • Hot dog buns
  • Yellow mustard
  • Finely shredded cheddar


  • Cook bacon then put the bacon grease in a dutch oven with olive oil over a medium-high heat.
  • Add one finely diced onion to the dutch oven. Sweat down onion for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Stir in finely chopped chocolate, minced garlic, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves for one to two minutes until super fragrant.
  • Add broth, tomato sauce, Mad River Maple, vinegar, tomato paste, maple syrup, and Worcestershire.
  • Stir in ground beef.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let thicken for at least 30 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Continue to reduce if necessary to achieve thick consistency.
  • While you wait for the chili to thicken, cook the beef hot dogs.

To Serve

  • Split open hot dog bun, add yellow mustard and finely diced onion.
  • Add hot dog split down the middle.
  • Top with heaping ladle of chili.
  • Add a mountain of finely shredded cheddar cheese.