Slow Cooker Chili


This Slow Cooker Chili is one of my all time most popular recipes and for good reason! This is the best chili around and a long time family favorite! It’s the perfect comforting soup. Perfect over baked potatoes too.

Slow Cooker Chili | Cooking Classy

In my home during the cold winter months I make chili about once every other week.


It’s one of my favorite dinners, topped with cheese and sour cream of course. I also love to serve it over baked potatoes or with a side of cornbread.

Want to see how to make this easy slow cooker chili recipe? Watch the video!

Slow Cooker Chili | Cooking Classy

This also makes really good leftovers.

I ‘m usually not a big fan of leftovers of but I even freeze this chili and it’s still perfectly delicious even a month later!


Slow Cooker Chili | Cooking Classy

This slow cooker method is my favorite for chili.

The flavor of the chili is rich and robust and the texture of the beef is so tender, basically perfect and the way the ground beef in chili should be.

Six hours of slow cooking creates the best chili ever.

And have I mentioned how easy this chili is to make? It’s a total breeze, so this will likely become a recipe you won’t want to lose!

slow cooker chili

I do like to saute those onions first to remove their harsh bite, plus no one wants slightly crunchy onions in their chili.

slow cooker chili

Then of course brown the beef before adding to the slow cooker.

I like to either brown it in two batches or just add it in a few larger portions so it really has a chance to brown on bottom. And only stir occasionally.

slow cooker chili

Then add the other ingredients, while waiting until the end to add the beans. Otherwise they will turn out mushy and way over-cooked.

slow cooker chili

Cook over low heat for 6 hours and voila, best chili ever!!!

slow cooker chili


Slow Cooker Chili

4.84 from 108 votes

One of my most popular recipes and for good reason! This is the best chili I've ever tasted! Slow cooking it allows for the flavors to meld and the most tender beef. Try it tonight and see why everyone loves this!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keyword: easy chili recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 7 servings
Calories: 359 kcal
Author: Jaclyn


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion , finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic , finely minced
  • 2 (14.5) oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies*
  • 3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water or beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Serve topped with:
  • Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese , sour cream, chopped red or green onions, cilantro, roasted peppers, or hot sauce

Optionally serve with:

  • fresh cornbread or biscuits , baked russet potatoes, saltine crackers or tortilla chips


  1. Heat olive oil in a large and deep non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onion and saute 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour onions into a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker.
  2. Return skillet to medium-high eat, add beef and cook stirring occasionally until beef has browned. Drain most of fat from beef, leaving about 2 Tbsp in with beef (this is optional, I think it ads flavor but you can drain it all if you'd prefer). Pour browned beef into slow cooker.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1/2 cup water or beef broth, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa powder, sugar, coriander and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Stir mixture, cover with lid and cook on low heat for 5 - 6 hours.
  4. Stir in dark and light red kidney beans and allow to heat through, about 10 minutes (if you want the soup to have more liquid you can add in another 1/2 cup water or beef broth). Serve warm with desired toppings (I say the cheese and sour cream is a must, everything else is optional).
  5. *If you don't like heat then you can use canned tomatoes without green chiles since they are a little spicy.
  6. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy
Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Chili
Amount Per Serving
Calories 359 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 80mg 27%
Sodium 1196mg 50%
Potassium 1084mg 31%
Total Carbohydrates 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 10g 40%
Sugars 10g
Protein 37g 74%
Vitamin A 31.9%
Vitamin C 22.9%
Calcium 10.6%
Iron 40.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • Katie Honeycutt: WOW! This was the BEST chili recipe I’ve found. This will be my new go to recipe. Thank you for sharing it! October 14, 2013 at 7:13pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you think it’s the best you’ve found Katie :)! Thanks for your comment! October 14, 2013 at 7:47pm Reply

  • Christi: Hi, Thanks for a great recipe. I have been craving Chili for the longest but when I make it it doesn’t taste quiet right. I can toss this together before work and dinner will be done. I will be making it this coming fall. Thank you so much! August 30, 2013 at 7:46am Reply

    • Jaclyn: You’re welcome Christi :)! September 1, 2013 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Christie: Hi, when do I add the beans in? At the end? Also, is this okay to be in the crockpot for 8 hours rather than 6? Thanks! May 15, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: You add the beans in after it has cooked the 6 hours. It would be fine to do the 8 hours, my Mom said she cooked hers about that long and it was a little more dry so you will likely want to add in 1 cup of beef broth or chicken broth. Hope you enjoy! May 15, 2013 at 1:05pm Reply

      • christie: Thanks!! May 15, 2013 at 2:02pm Reply

      • D: Trying for first. See if the my Wife and boys like it. Thanks for the note about the beans, wasn’t totally sure when to add but it seemed like at the end made sense so they’re not overcooked.

        Thank you! October 26, 2017 at 10:23am Reply

  • Martina: Have made this twice since finding recipe it is very good my family love it March 19, 2013 at 3:09am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Martina – I’m so glad to hear your family loves this chili! Thanks so much for your comment! March 19, 2013 at 9:43am Reply

      • Danielle: Do you put the slow cooker on low or high? October 22, 2017 at 11:54am Reply

  • Kim: What type of “tomato sauce” is supposed to be used in this recipe?

    Thanks :) February 27, 2013 at 3:25pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Just a plain tomato sauce. I used the kind that has salt (NOT a no salt added version). February 28, 2013 at 1:16am Reply

      • Jeanette: Could you expand a bit more on “tomato sauce” please? In lots of places in the world, tomato sauce is what you call “ketchup” in the States. Are you meaning a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce? October 27, 2017 at 8:36pm Reply

        • Jaclyn: It is a tomato puree that is lightly seasoned with a few seasonings like onion and garlic powder. If you can find puree that would be the next best thing or tomato paste mixed with about 2 parts water to equal the same amount of sauce called for. October 27, 2017 at 8:41pm Reply

        • Suzan: My husband and I, did try it with the sugar.He said lets try it make it just how the recipe is so we did, and we did not care for it, so I just make this without the sugar.I do add 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, which my American neighbor told me to try and that was good,and carrot and celery. Thanks anyway for the advice. :) February 6, 2018 at 11:13am Reply

      • Suzan: I’m sure she means that tomato sauce that comes out of the can and not the bottle. February 6, 2018 at 11:15am Reply

  • Four Ingredient Crock Pot Cola Chicken (Plus 10 More Delicious Crock Pot Recipes!): […] Slow Cooker Chili (also check out 15 Must Try Chili Recipes!) […] February 26, 2013 at 6:05am Reply

  • Angela @ Another Bite Please: i love slow cooker meals…I make one usually once a week since I work late on Tuesday and love that hubby can have meal ready for the kiddos….and he loves chili so this would be perfect…and serving over a potato sounds so good! February 15, 2013 at 3:27pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Angela! February 16, 2013 at 12:06am Reply

      • Rikki: Do you drain the olive oil from the onions before adding to the crock pot? August 31, 2016 at 9:32am Reply

  • Jessica@AKitchenAddiction: We eat a lot of chili during the winter months, too! I love the idea serving it with baked potatoes and extra cheese! February 15, 2013 at 1:49pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It is the best winter meal. Thanks for commenting Jessica! February 16, 2013 at 12:07am Reply

      • Suzan: WHY IN GOD’S NAME Would you ever add sugar and make it sweet ? No way dose sugar ever belongs is tomato base recipe.To acidity add salt but not sugar. January 4, 2016 at 3:02pm Reply

        • Shellina: Suzan why are you making such a big deal about a tsp of sugar. I add brown sugar to my tomato meat sauce that I use for pasta or lasagnas all the time … and everyone that has my lasagnas says its the best they have ever had. Don’t knock it till you try it and its only a tsp … if you don’t like it don’t use it … simple as that.

          Jaclyn … I have saved & pinned 5 or 6 of your soup recipes & I can’t wait to try them & will try out your chill recipe … sound delish :) <3 January 7, 2016 at 2:02am Reply

          • Jaclyn: I hope you love the recipes Shellina! January 7, 2016 at 10:39am

          • Alessandra: I have made this chili at least 5 times. My family loves it. The sugar is necessary in my opinion and every time I make a recipe with a lots of tomatoes I will always add sugar. I makes all the difference. October 27, 2017 at 5:48am

          • Eri: Suzan you got servvvved! December 31, 2017 at 8:26am

          • Trent: Sugar doesn’t belong in tomato sauces used for Italian cooking. My grandmother would kill me if I ever did that. Whoever said brown sugar lasagna tastes good is either weak or has a pallete that’s been ruined by fast food. February 21, 2018 at 3:25pm

        • Tiffany: There are lots of tomato base recipes thay call for sugar! This recipe is my families go to chili recipe! It’s amazing and there is never any left overs!!! January 10, 2016 at 8:37pm Reply

        • Sarah: Suzan, you need to spell check before you start bashing someone’s recipe ingredients. This recipe looks amazing and I will be making it today for sure! Have a nice day, sounds like you really need one. January 24, 2016 at 7:43am Reply

          • Suzan VanWilgen: Sarah Well for one English is not my first language and another point is I was not bashing any one what ever that means I was making a comment alike you all were. I made this and was good I just left the sugar out. June 18, 2016 at 10:42pm

          • Suzan Vanwilgen: Sarah your telling me I need to use spell check what did I miss spell ? If anything you should of told me to check for my sentience structure, that is where I went wrong I don’t see misspelled words. By the way yes the chili was really good and have made it a few times since my last post, but I did omit the sugar.I’don’t think any one needs the extra sugar,and I just think it gives it a sweet taste. I also have made this for a community fundraiser,and it was a hit. October 2, 2016 at 4:31pm

          • Marilynn: Spell check: No way DOES sugar…. Not Dose! February 6, 2017 at 8:40am

          • Juanita: what does someone’s spelling have to do with what they’re saying. this is incredibly rude. maybe the person speaks another language or possibly is someone with special needs. you don’t know and there’s no reason to attack someone’s speech. shame on you. September 17, 2017 at 9:50am

          • Kris: @Juanita.

            Umm, when someone is communicating through the written word, then it has everything to do with what they are saying… I’m not professing that we need grammar Nazis trolling message boards, because we don’t, but your statement taken at face value is absolutely false. February 4, 2018 at 7:35am

        • Amy: Suzan, the best Italian meat sauce I have ever had was made by a little old Italian lady and her secret weapon: sugar. January 30, 2016 at 1:12pm Reply

          • Eli: There is a huge difference in sugar content among some foods like potatoes and tomatoes. Some potatoes, for example taste very sweet, while others have almost no sweetness whatsoever. The same is true of tomatoes, and canned tomatoes as well. Some varieties of tomatoes benefit from a pinch of sugar for reasons others have already stated, while others do not. Maybe taste your tomatoes first to see if they could benefit from a pinch of suggah. November 14, 2017 at 4:20am

        • Kathy: Tomatoes can be bitter so adding sugar cuts the bitter! January 31, 2016 at 8:18am Reply

          • MZ: exactly! March 10, 2018 at 9:22am

        • Suzan, Suzan, Suzan…MY GOODNESS!!! April 1, 2016 at 12:47pm Reply

        • Mari: The sugar is to counterbalance the acidity. It does not make it sweet! That’s why it’s only a tsp. July 31, 2016 at 6:43am Reply

          • Theresa: Absolutely correct!???? November 14, 2017 at 3:47pm

          • Betty: Exactly Mari, I hate acidity taste of tomatoes wasn’t totally satisfied with my chilli or spaghetti till and old Italian family member told me her secret. Just a Lil sugar. Tastes so good and everyone always wants my recipe.. try it you’ll like it. February 26, 2018 at 12:06pm

        • Teresa: Suzan, being from the South we always added sugar to anything that had a tomato base. Hint: sprinkle a little sugar in your chicken salad and it will make all the difference in the world. August 22, 2016 at 11:15am Reply

          • Suzan Vanwilgen: Teresa I know you will probably take this wrong, but just your from the south doesn’t mean your way is always the right way like mine is not always the right way.My Italian aunt by marriage,always used salt or baking soda. I’m sorry but I don’t like sugar in my chicken salad I have had it that way. October 2, 2016 at 4:50pm

        • Lucy: You spell does(does) not dose October 7, 2016 at 12:23pm Reply

          • Ressa: Thank you. Haha. December 26, 2016 at 11:54pm

          • Lauren: This is too funny. I’m making this chili tonight in my pressure cooker. But I have to respond to the grammer that everyone is talking to Suzan about. Suzan, you use “should of” in a response. It should be “should have”. Everyone remember that Suzan is allowed to speak her opinion. Now lets get to the business of tasting this great chili, and if you don’t like sugar in it, simply leave it out. Have a great day all and be kind to someone today. December 30, 2016 at 5:13am

          • Darlene: Keep reading down…grammar is spelled wrong January 15, 2018 at 1:31pm

          • Nydia: What the heck is this people? An English class? We’re here about the chili recipe, not the spelling. Grow up. No need for this.. and by the way, I agree with all those who use sugar. ( Brown or white… Whatever is clever). Sugar is the trick to many recipes. Happy cooking peeps. God bless you all. January 18, 2018 at 2:37pm

        • Rashid: Suzan i guess you are not of American decent which means that you do not observe the same traditions as most Americans. But that’s ok though. You make your chili how you like it but I will also say that you should be a little more open to trying new things and see how you like it. And then after that lets see how you feel about it. I particularly love my chili with sugar in it because it just makes it taste so much better by countering the salty flavor. I really hope you would it. I think you would be please. Just my two cents. October 25, 2016 at 10:48am Reply

          • Romy Kettlewell: Rashid, the use of sugar in tomato sauce didn’t originate in America, it originated in Italy. Southern Italians use sugar in their marinaras, unless it’s a seafood marinara. October 20, 2017 at 12:07pm

          • Jake: Rashid, Most Americans aren’t of American descent and their traditions are more varied than the colors of the rainbow. January 22, 2018 at 8:12pm

        • Jessica: I add sugar to chiming before I read this recipe and to spaghetti sauce and meat loaf.its really good. November 19, 2016 at 4:11pm Reply

          • Sheri: Me too! You wouldn’t want to know how much sugar I put in my chili and spaghetti sauces! Lol… I have to put it in my bowl only though. . Otherwise i j put a spoonful in and add more to my own. December 29, 2017 at 1:26pm

        • Dorothy hodgens: Adding a little sugar helps lessen the acid of the tomatoes. A little sugar goes a long way. January 16, 2017 at 9:00am Reply

        • Kimmy: If you don’t have anything nice to say, just shut your big mouth because no one wants to hear or read it.

          If you want to criticize, you do it in a positive way. Don’t be rude. March 4, 2017 at 2:29pm Reply

        • Kiran: It doesn’t make it even remotely sweet. If anything adds sweetness it is the cocoa powder. I make this ALL the time. I make the recipe exactly as is, just less chilli powder. And my parents LOVE it. This recipe is absolutely wonderful. May 18, 2017 at 10:52am Reply

          • Jaclyn: Thanks Kiran! May 25, 2017 at 11:29am

        • Em: One of the biggest reasons LaRosas Pizza is famous is for their “sweet” pizza sauce, which includes sugar!

          Cincinnati resident over here but I felt it was appropriate! Nothing wrong with a little sugar! Plus its her recipe! Follow it or not but she can do how how likes with it, and it seems many people agree! May 21, 2017 at 1:35pm Reply

        • Shannon: My great grandma used sugar for spaghetti.. she was Italian and I have yet to find a better tasting spaghetti.. August 4, 2017 at 11:55am Reply

        • Gundocwife1993: My mom ALWAYS put the very same amount of sugar and cocoa in her chili and it was amazing!!! Don’t knock it till you try it!! The sweet and acidic create a beautiful balance. August 16, 2017 at 5:58am Reply

        • Chad: I always add sugar to any meat sauce. If not it is very unbalanced. Learn to cook properly before making negative comments on any recipe please. September 3, 2017 at 4:07pm Reply

          • Kiran: Amen Chad. September 3, 2017 at 9:00pm

        • Science guy: Sugar helps to cut the acid of the other ingredients. September 22, 2017 at 8:59am Reply

        • Brooke: Sugar actually cuts the acidity from the tomatoes. It is used in most meat sauce recipes. September 27, 2017 at 9:24am Reply

        • BOB: REALLY! NO SUGAR, I ALWAY USE BROWN SUGAR IN PASTA SAUCE OR CHILLI. October 6, 2017 at 7:13am Reply

        • Romy Kettlewell: “belong in a tomato-based recipe.” And sentience is being able to percieve and react, it’s not a sentence. But yes, sugar does enhance tomato flavor. It also helps to bring out the flavor of the onions and garlic. I also add bell peppers to my chili. October 20, 2017 at 11:38am Reply

          • Penina: I before E, except after C February 3, 2018 at 5:57pm

        • Alecia: While grandmas have been doing so for as long as they can remember as well as their children and grandchildren, there’s actually a reason behind it. Sugar, when heated, reacts in many different ways depending on what you’re using. In this instant, the tomatoes which are highly acidic. When sugar and acid are combined, the sugar cuts through the acidic molecules making them less harsh. Which is why in many salad dressings etc it has sugar in the ingredients as to reduce the harshness of vinegar on our pallettes as well as our stomachs. So chill. November 27, 2017 at 2:45pm Reply

        • Lovely: Adding sugar to any bean based soup is an old southern style recipe that actually helps cut gas that the beans cause. Its a secret trick, no one will ever know that sugar has been added. December 10, 2017 at 10:38pm Reply

        • HappyCali: Sugar the secret ingredient and FYI it’s in EVERYTHING! December 19, 2017 at 3:26pm Reply

        • Loki: I know this convo is from long ago lol! But I add in VH honey garlic sauce, medium strong, into this and other beef tomato combos. It’s brown sugar, honey and garlic soy sauce and my Dutch parents have used it forever- probably since 1970- and it’s still sold in walmart. December 23, 2017 at 11:41am Reply

        • Gori: That’s one thing that is a must in tomato based recipes, sugar. To control the acidity and it gives a subtle flavor too that is very flavorful to the palette. But of course, each to their own. January 10, 2018 at 8:59am Reply

        • B: She doesn’t like the “dose” of sugar… just quoting her WHAT DOSE SUGAR.. blah blah January 17, 2018 at 9:06pm Reply

          • Jean Leyshon: Can anyone tell me what the three cans of tomato sauce are, im not American, in Britain we call ketchup, sauce, so i just want to get it right. March 19, 2018 at 12:16pm

        • Johanna Itani: sugar balances the acidity and you can not even taste a sweetness it is for a balance to the acid in the sauce, lots of ppl use a bit of sugar in their sauces January 19, 2018 at 7:07am Reply

        • Sara: Suzan, I put a little sugar in my spaghetti ALL the time.. the sugar will actually absorb the tomatoes acidity.. not add to it. Helps those who are not fans of very acidic meals.. like everyone says.. don’t knock it til you try it! January 31, 2018 at 11:15am Reply

        • Laura: What is marinara sauce then lol? February 6, 2018 at 9:20am Reply

        • Syd: My husband’s family recipe for spaghetti sauce calls for about 1/8 th cup of raisins to cut the acid. Works great ! February 18, 2018 at 11:54am Reply

        • Mama38: Sugar adds the right amount of perfect sweetness, in some Filipino recipes, they use sugar and a sweet seasoning for some of their recipes. You know what they say, opinions vary. March 5, 2018 at 11:31am Reply

        • Nikki: Everybody does there own thing. Not really a right way. My mom had always put sugar in hers (a recipe passed down for years) and I love it! Everyone has different things they like March 12, 2018 at 3:08pm Reply

        • Jojo: I add sugar all the time, especially when making spagehtti sauce. March 28, 2018 at 4:24pm Reply

        • Doug: Totally agree, the sugar makes the taste great. May 27, 2018 at 8:34am Reply

        • Chef phil: You add sugar to fight against the bitterness off the tomato puree. Go to chef school for a day and you will learn. June 13, 2018 at 8:26am Reply

    • Sally: I learned a long time ago that adding just a smidgen of sugar in any recipe w tomatoes make it taste so very good! November 7, 2016 at 5:35pm Reply

    • Dawn: Looks fabulous!!! Making this tomorrow and putting over baked potatoe sounds great!!! November 9, 2017 at 4:34pm Reply

    • Virginia: Sounds and looks great. Making it now. January 16, 2018 at 9:29am Reply

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