Slow Cooker Chili is one of my all-time most popular recipes, come fall and winter thousands of people make it every day! And for good reason, because this is the best crockpot chili around! It’s incredibly flavorful, it’s packed with protein and perfectly hearty—plus it’s a dinner everyone can agree on.
Love this recipe? Be sure to try my highly-rated White Chicken Chili too!
The Best Crockpot Chili Recipe Ever!
Chili is actually one of my favorite fall foods and I make it all the time. It’s a recipe everyone in the family loves and it’s just good for the soul; a perfect comfort food. Everyone needs a go-to easy chili recipe for fall! This easy slow cooker chili uses simple ingredients that you can adjust based on how you like your chili (spicy chili? sweet chili? meaty chili?) or your family’s dietary needs.
This slow cooker method is my favorite for easy chili—low effort and high reward. The flavor of the crockpot chili is rich and robust, the texture of the beef is so tender, and it turns out perfect every time! All it takes is a few minutes of prep work earlier in the day, and you’re ready to enjoy a delicious bowl of chili for dinner.
Watch How Easy it is!
What Ingredients Go into Crockpot Chili?
- Olive oil: use for sauteeing. Vegetable oil will work too if that’s what you have on hand.
- Ground beef: I recommend using 85% lean. It has a good ratio of fat for browning but not too much.
- Yellow onion and garlic: aromatics that add lots of flavor. Use fresh garlic for best results.
- Canned tomatoes with green chilies: if you can’t find the size listed then you can use 2 (14.5 oz) cans of tomatoes then add a 1 (4 oz) can of diced green chilies.
- Tomato sauce: this gives it a nice tomato-flavored base and makes it stew-like.
- Beef broth: this thins it out, if you don’t want it soupy at all then you can omit it. If you prefer more of a soup texture, add a little more broth.
- Spices (chili powder, cumin, paprika, sugar, coriander, S&P): the key to great chili. This recipe isn’t skimpy with them.
- Cocoa powder: this secret ingredient adds depth. Don’t worry—it’s not going to taste like chocolate.
- Dark and light kidney beans: if you don’t have both shades just use two dark.
How Do You Make Slow Cooker Chili?
This chili is so easy to make, the slow cooker does most of the work! Here’s how you’ll prepare it:
- Saute aromatics, add to slow cooker: Heat olive oil in a large and deep non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion and saute for 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute for 30 seconds longer. Pour onions into a 6 or 7-quart slow cooker (I have several and prefer this one HERE).
- Brown beef: Return skillet to medium-high eat, add beef and cook stirring occasionally until beef has browned.
- Drain fat, add beef to slow cooker: 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.
- Add liquids and seasonings: Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa powder, sugar, coriander and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook low and slow: Cover with lid and cook on low heat for 5 – 6 hours.
- Stir in beans: Add in dark and light red kidney beans and allow to heat through, about 2 minutes.
- Serve warm with desired toppings.
Can I Make This Easy Chili in an Instant Pot?
Here’s the instant pot method for this Chili recipe HERE.
Can I Make This Easy Chili on the Stovetop?
If you don’t have a slow cooker this can also be made on the stovetop. Brown the onion, brown the beef, add the other ingredients except the beans then simmer for 2-3 hours over low heat. Then stir in beans just before you’re ready to eat.
What Should I Serve with Crockpot Chili?
How to Freeze Chili
This chili freezes really well and reheats really well. I almost always have some in my freezer.
It’s great for meal prep! I freeze small batches for my kid’s school lunch, then pack it in a thermos for them. Or I’ll sometimes make a double batch (using two slow cookers) and freeze a batch for dinner the next week.
What Can I Make with Leftover Chili?
When I have leftover chili, I love to serve it over Navajo Tacos. Just strain the liquid using a slotted spoon to serve.
Tips for the Best Crockpot Chili:
- Don’t skip sautéing onions before adding to the slow cooker. If you do you’ll end up with crunchy onions in the chili.
- Use good quality ground beef. I like to use 85% lean Angus beef. Avoid the beef in the tubes, as this is poor-quality beef.
- For even more flavor, you can bloom the spices before adding them to the chili. To do this, just saute them with the onions during the last 1 minute.
- If you have time, cook beef in two batches. Cooking 1 pound of beef at a time allows more room for it to brown rather than just steam. And of course, browning adds incredible flavor.
- Avoid cooking on high heat. Cooking this low and slow allows time for those flavors to develop and meld together, and it makes the beef more tender.
- Wait to add the beans until the end. Canned beans are already cooked so if you add them in the beginning they end up way too mushy.
Possible Easy Slow Cooker Chili Variations:
- Add a diced red or green bell pepper along with the veggies when sautéing.
- If you like spicy chili, add a seeded jalapeno or two along with the veggies.
- Serve with grated cheddar, sour cream, diced avocados, tortilla chips, or saltine crackers.
- Always use airtight containers.
More Delicious Chili Recipes to Try!
- Instant Pot Chili
- Turkey Chili
- Vegetable Chili
- White Chicken Chili
- Quinoa Chili
- Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
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Slow Cooker Chili
- slow cooker (I use this Crock-Pot 6-quart Cook and Carry)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies*
- 3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz) can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving
Optionally serve with:
- Heat olive oil in a large and deep non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and saute 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour onions into a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker (I like this one HERE).
- 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.
- Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa powder, sugar, coriander and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover with lid and cook on low heat for 5 - 6 hours.
- Stir in dark and light red kidney beans and allow to heat through, about 2 minutes. Serve warm with desired toppings.
- Look for tomatoes with "mild" green chilies. You can also use 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes and 1 (4 oz) can green chilies, drained.
- If you want beef to brown better then sear in two batches. Only crumble and stir occasionally.
- To add even more depth of flavor you can bloom the spices by sautéing them with the aromatics, add them during the last minute of sautéing the onions.
- If you want to thin the chili at the end you can add in another 1/2 cup beef broth. If you like a really thick chili you can omit the beef broth altogether.
- Other topping ideas include sour cream, chopped red or green onions, roasted peppers, or hot sauce.
- If desired serve with baked potatoes, cornbread, biscuits, saltine crackers or tortilla chips.