Slow Cooker Chili

02.02.2019

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 so flavorful, its packed with protein and perfectly hearty, plus it’s a dinner everyone can always agree on.

Best homemade Chili in a crockpot.

The Best Chili Recipe Ever!

Chili is actually one of my favorite 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, perfect comfort food.

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!

Watch How Easy it is!

 

 

Two servings of chili in white bowls set over a marble surface. Servings topped with cheddar, sour cream and green onions.

What Ingredients go into Chili?

  • Olive oil – for sauteeing
  • Ground beef – I recommend using 85% lean Angus. 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 want it more soup add a little more.
  • 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.

Ingredients needed to make chili shown here.

How do You Make Chili?

This chili is so easy to make, the slow cooker does most of the work!

  • Saute onions and garlic, add to slow cooker.

Showing the steps to making chili. Adding sautéed onions to crockpot for chili.

  • Brown beef and add to 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).

Adding browned beef to slow cooker to make 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.

Adding tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices to slow cooker for chili.

  • Stir in beans, heat through (chili should be really hot so they should warm through quickly).
  • Serve with desired toppings.

Adding kidney beans to chili after is has cooked on low heat 5 - 6 hours.

Can I Make This Chili in an Instant Pot?

Here’s the instant pot method for this Chili recipe HERE.

Can I Make This Chili on the Stovetop?

If you don’t have a slow cooker this can also be made on the stove top. Brown the onion, brown the beef, add the other ingredients except the beans then simmer 2 – 3 hours over low heat. Then stir in beans.

What Should I Serve with Chili?

Serve with a side of cornbread or serve in baked potatoes.

Can I Freeze This Chili?

This chili freezes really well and reheats really well. I actually almost always have some in my freezer.

I freeze small batches for my kids school lunch then pack it in a thermos for them. Or I’ll sometimes make a double batch (using two slow cookers) then freeze a batch for dinner the next week.

Large batch of chili in a Slow Cooker.

What Can I Make with Leftover Chili?

When I have left over chili I love to serve it over Navajo Tacos. Just strain the liquid using a slotted spoon to serve.

Tips and Variations for this Recipe

  • Add a diced red or green bell pepper along with the veggies.
  • 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.
  • Leave to cool completely before storing in the fridge or freezer. Always use airtight containers.

Overhead image of bowl of chili topped with cheddar, sour cream and green onions.

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Slow Cooker Chili

4.82 from 168 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! Recipe makes about 12 cups.

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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 cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup 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
  • 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:

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large and deep non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add onion and saute 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour onions into a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker.

  3. Return skillet to medium-high eat, add beef and cook stirring occasionally until beef has browned.

  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  6. Cover with lid and cook on low heat for 5 - 6 hours.
  7. Stir in dark and light red kidney beans and allow to heat through, about 2 minutes. Serve warm with desired toppings.

  8. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Recipe Notes

  • 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.
  • If you want beef to brown better then sear in two batches. Only crumble and stir occasionally.
  • 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.
Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Chili
Amount Per Serving
Calories 415 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 22%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 73mg 24%
Sodium 595mg 25%
Potassium 1410mg 40%
Total Carbohydrates 38g 13%
Dietary Fiber 11g 44%
Sugars 8g
Protein 32g 64%
Vitamin A 27.5%
Vitamin C 23.9%
Calcium 11%
Iron 47.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keyword: Slow Cooker Chili
Calories: 415 kcal
Author: Jaclyn
Post originally shared Feb. 2013. Photos updated Jan. 2019.

634 comments

  • Sandy: Could I use white and red kidney beans? November 6, 2018 at 1:09pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes that would be fine. November 9, 2018 at 2:32pm Reply

  • Nancy: I would like to use a combination of (dry beans) for my chili. How do I modify this receipt? November 5, 2018 at 6:59am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I would cook them separately then add at the end still. November 5, 2018 at 8:14am Reply

  • Sara: Had to add more of all spices because it was so bland. November 4, 2018 at 5:55pm Reply

  • Mindy: If I don’t have the cocoa powder is it a big deal to leave out? Do I need to add anything else?
    Everything is in the crockpot now so I can’t wait to try this! November 4, 2018 at 8:11am Reply

    • Jaclyn: It will still taste great it just gives it a little something so add it next time :). November 4, 2018 at 9:19am Reply

      • Bitch Harlow: I substituted Ghirardelli hot chocolate mix once, omitting the sugar as a result. It came out great. November 4, 2018 at 9:43am Reply

  • Kristen: For the cans of diced tomatoes, do you drain the first or just put the entire can contents in? November 3, 2018 at 3:14am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Don’t drain just add as is. Hope you love it! November 3, 2018 at 8:10am Reply

  • Bill Shobe: And season mixture??? November 1, 2018 at 11:55am Reply

  • Ashley: Can I add black beans? Also, how long before it’s done do I add the beans? I almost put them in with everything. Why don’t I do that? October 31, 2018 at 9:10am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Canned black beans would be fine here as well. I like to wait until the end to add them so they don’t get mushy. November 9, 2018 at 2:52pm Reply

  • Corey: I could never find a good chili with a good heat, not overbearing, until now. It has a nice kick but doesn’t linger so you can’t enjoy the taste of what you are eating. Thank you October 27, 2018 at 3:28pm Reply

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