Vegan Skyline Chili

Why vegan skyline chili? I don’t know if it’s all the moving around my husband and I have done for the past 16 years or that this is the last year of my 30’s, but I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately; movies, music, amusement parks and food.

I am aware amusement parks is a random throw in…I’m an adult kid when it comes to rollercoasters. Love them!

I grew up in Ohio and remember visiting Cincinnati back when Skyline Chili wasn’t a canned food or frozen box in your local grocery store. It throws me for a loop every time I see it in an aisle.

It’s Been At Least 16 Years Since I’ve Eaten Skyline Chili

And now I’m a Vegan! To be fair, I have been Vegan for over 7 years now but that doesn’t mean that nostalgic taste of a Skyline Coney or the smell of the chili leaves my senses.

Why haven’t I tried to make it before? I have no idea… but maybe it’s the nostalgia that’s been playing with my mind lately making me want to now.

The History Of Skyline Chili

When searching for an ingredients list that I could replicate but in a vegan way, there was no ingredients list to be found from Skyline Chili. It’s a secret recipe. What I did find was a story…

To summarize, Cincinnati Chili originated with immigrants from Greece in 1922. Two brothers, Tom and John Kiradjieff, began serving a stew they called, “spaghetti chili.”

It was made with traditional Mediterranean spices and served in their hot dog stand called Empress.

After customer feedback, the chili, which was once cooked with the spaghetti, was changed to be more of a sauce to top the spaghetti and hot dogs.  Grated cheese was later added.

The “Way” system was also originated by these 2 brothers, Tom and John, to make ordering more efficient. From what I gather the secret recipe stayed a secret but amongst the restaurant Empress and everyone who created a business out of their original recipe thereafter.

In 1949, a former employee of Empress, Nicholas Lambrinides, started Skyline Chili. He was 70 years old. Many other Cincinnati Chili type restaurants came from Empress, including Gold Star Chili.

How Did I Create My Recipe

After reading the labels on the canned Skyline Chili, the frozen boxes, the Skyline website, other peoples versions of the recipe and Wikipedia, I found that I was going to have to combine and edit all of these ingredients.

For instance, homemade versions of Skyline Chili tends to be soupier, have cocoa in it and no paprika.

As we all know, who have actually been to Skyline Chili, their chili is NOT soupy–like I mentioned earlier–it’s more of a topping. Cocoa was never put in the original recipe. And paprika is on the ingredients list from the canned/frozen product.

Please people, do not call it Skyline Chili if you really aren’t doing it at least semi-right….

Vegan Skyline Chili
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4.32 from 67 votes

Vegan Skyline Chili


  • 1 bag Gardein Beefless Ground or approx 3 1/4- 3 1/2 cups of a meatless ground
  • 1 cup onion, diced about 1/2 a large onion
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 16 oz tomato sauce, canned
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vegan worcestershire
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp paprika, ground
  • 1/8 tsp all spice, ground
  • 1/8 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1 bay leaf


  • In a soup pot, over medium/high heat, add ALL of the ingredients! ...except for the bay leaf
    Skyline Chili mise en place
  • Stir Well. Once the chili starts to boil stir again then turn temperature down to low. Now add the bay leaf to the top and push in. If you stir it in right away, you risk the leaf breaking since it's dry. Cover with a lid.
    Skyline Chili Pot
  • Chili will be simmering for a total of 60 minutes. Set timer & stir at 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it, stirring more often the last 15 minutes of cooking time. 
    Skyline Chili is NOT meant to be soupy. It should have a little liquid left at the end of cooking but be more of a topping. If it is looking really soupy, leave uncovered the last 10 minutes & continue to stir. 
  • Turn off heat & allow to cool. >Scoop out the bay leaf and discard<


:: For the BEST tasting Skyline Chili, allow to cool, refrigerate overnight & warm up the next day. This allows the flavors to continue to marry. 
Tried this recipe?Mention @VeggL_VeganEatsOpens in a new tab. and let us know how it turned out!


Which Way Do You ‘Way’ It?

Skyline Spaghetti


  • 2 Way : Spaghetti topped with Chili
  • 3 Way : Spaghetti topped with Chili & Grated Cheese
  • 4 Way : Spaghetti topped with Chili, Onions & Grated Cheese
  • 5 Way : Spaghetti topped with Beans, Chili, Onions & Grated Cheese


  • Cheese Coney : Hot Dog topped with Mustard, Chili, Onions & Grated Cheese


  • Dice extra onions for topping when prepping ingredients for Chili
  • Traditionally, oyster crackers are added to the top of the spaghetti (see pic above)
  • The BEST grated cheese we have used is from the Daiya Medium Cheddar Block. When grated, this Vegan Cheese has been the most like the fluffy grated Skyline Chili we remember loving.
  • If making a Coney, place your hot dog in bun then microwave for 20 seconds. The bun becomes much softer to eat. Add toppings after.
  • And the MOST IMPORTANT tip to remember is Skyline Chili Spaghetti is eaten by Cutting It! There will be none of that wrapping your spaghetti around the fork.

I have had omni & vegan reviews from those that KNOW Skyline. I’m told this is LEGIT. I agree!

Cheese Coney

VeggL (Jen and Ryan)

VeggL is the passion project of Jen & Ryan. Both vegan (Jen since 2012, Ryan since 2018), they wanted to help other vegans & plant based folks through an incredibly frustrating process--trying to figure out what you can eat & where in the US. Pictured w/ our pups, Mia & Chompers.

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