Slow Cooker Chili

February 2, 2019

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, 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.

Best homemade Chili in a crockpot.

The Best Crockpot 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 crockpot chili is rich and robust, the texture of the beef is so tender, and it turns out perfect every time!

It’s just 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 it 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 Crockpot 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 Slow Cooker 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.

It’s great for meal prep! 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 Crockpot Chili

  • 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.

More Delicious Chili Recipes to Try!

Slow Cooker Chili

4.88 from 213 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


  • 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:


    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*
    Fat 14g22%
    Saturated Fat 5g31%
    Cholesterol 73mg24%
    Sodium 595mg26%
    Potassium 1410mg40%
    Carbohydrates 38g13%
    Fiber 11g46%
    Sugar 8g9%
    Protein 32g64%
    Vitamin A 1375IU28%
    Vitamin C 19.7mg24%
    Calcium 110mg11%
    Iron 8.5mg47%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    Course: Soup
    Cuisine: Tex-Mex
    Keyword: Slow Cooker Chili
    Author: Jaclyn
    Post originally published Feb. 2013. Photos updated Jan. 2019.

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    • Ashley McGeary

      Wow thank you for this recipe. I made it after trick or treating and it was so good. This was only my second time making chilli and first time was using my stepmoms recipe. I did almost everything the same except I cooked onion and garlic with meat after sauteeing. I used 1 1/2 cans petite diced tomatoes w/o chilies, 2 tsp brown sugar, and I had the big 40oz cans of kidney beans so I used a little over half of them so probably 25 oz, and I didnt need the beef broth. I always have to make a recipe my own if using someone elses. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. This is a keeper and will be the recipe I use

    • Brittany

      Can’t wait to try this! Question: I want to half the recipe for a single person. Would this alter the cook time? Has anyone tried half batch?

    • Danielle C

      Made this for Halloween. It could be called awesome, delicious, crowd-pleasing chili. Everyone loved it and went back for more. I set up a chili bar with this chili, all the toppings, fritos, and crock pot hot dogs. A great setup for a no-stress hosting night. This will be my go-to chili recipe from now on.

    • Renee from TX

      Making this for the second time, following the recipe as is, except that I used a combination of dark red kidney beans and black beans. I also cooked it on the stovetop on low for 2 hrs instead of in the crockpot, and it tasted great. I had a nice amount of leftover chili to freeze. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Amy

      Sounds good & plan to try this weekend… just leery of using the cocoa powder. How would it be if this was omitted? Thanks!

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        It would still be good without but I highly recommend trying it, you won’t notice cocoa flavor in the chili it just adds some depth.

        • Amy Biblewski

          I made this for Sunday football. Excellent flavor! I had to adjust based available ingredients: could not find tomatoes with chilies so I used 1 can of pinto beans with chilies and 1 jalapeno. Also did not add the coriander.
          Very tasty and just a hint of spicy heat at the end. I’ll definitely make this again. Husband loved it and said I should not change a thing…. but I might add 3-4 oz of chopped mushrooms. ;)


      Thoughts for using tomato soup vs. tomato sauce? I ask because sometimes the “sauce” makes things a big too tangy.

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        Tomato soup usually has added sugar and flavorings, plus the consistency is different so I don’t recommend using soup.

    • Dayna

      Has anyone tried cooking on low for 3 and high for 1.5? I need to cut the length of the cook time but don’t want to alter taste.

    • Dawn

      Can I prep this the night before a party? Still follow all ur directions except put it in the fridge overnight?

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        I recommend cooking fully the day before then just rewarm on the stovetop the following day since soups aren’t to be reheated in a slow cooker for food safety.