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Homemade Healthy: Turkey Barley Chili

Homemade Healthy: Turkey Barley Chili

By JulieVR

I love a bowl of hearty chili in the middle of winter; this version, made with turkey in place of the usual ground beef, is also made with barley – a whole grain that’s particularly high in fiber, yet underused beyond beef and barley soup. The barley soaks up all the flavors of the chili, blending right in while boosting nutrients and fiber. Between the beans and barley, this chili will provide a significant fiber boost while the lean ground turkey provides a healthy dose of protein. It’s simple to stir together and let simmer; double the recipe if you want to freeze a batch for another night.

If you like, serve your chili in individual bread bowls by slicing the top off crusty rolls and pulling out their soft insides; serve the chili topped with grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.

Some more interesting posts:

Turkey and Perfect Gravy

Perfect Winter Turkey Lasagna

Rosemary Garlic Roast Turkey

Turkey Chili with Barley


  • Canola or olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper (white pepper, if you have it)
  • 1 can chicken stock, undiluted
  • 1 28 oz. (798 mL) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup salsa, hot or mild (optional)
  • 2 19 oz. (598 mL) cans white kidney or navy beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup pot or pearl barley


  1. Low fat sour cream and fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  2. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, until softened. Add the turkey and jalapenos and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for another minute.
  3. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, salsa, beans and barley and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. By then the barley should be cooked through.
  4. If you want to serve it right away, let it simmer for another 15-20 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasonings. Otherwise, let it cool and then refrigerate overnight; reheat on the stovetop over medium heat after a day or two. Add some extra stock or tomatoes if the barley has absorbed too much liquid and it has become too thick.
  5. Serves 8.