Slow Cooker Chili

February 2, 2019  ·  Published February 14, 2013

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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.

Love this recipe? Be sure to try my highly rated White Chicken Chili too!

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: 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 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! 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 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour onions into a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker.

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

  • 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.

Adding browned beef to slow cooker to make chili.

  • 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.

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

  • Stir in beans: Add in dark and light red kidney beans and allow to heat through, about 2 minutes.
  • Serve warm 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 Crockpot Chili?

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

How to Freeze 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 for the Best Crockpot Chili:

  • Don’t skip sautéing onions before adding to 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 is 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 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.
  • 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!

Best homemade Chili in a crockpot.
4.9 from 309 votes

Slow Cooker Chili

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
Prep15 minutes
Cook6 hours 10 minutes
Ready in: 6 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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:

    Instructions

    • 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.
    • 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.

    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, 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.
    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.
    Post originally published February 10, 2013. Photos updated February 2, 2019, text and recipe notes last updated December 15, 2019.

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    1,092 Comments

    • Jack Stephen H

      I used carne asada beef cuts and pulse processed 4 dates but kept spices and processes the same . I also used my Instapot set on beans to cook and transferred to stove top to heat with the beans.

    • Laura

      Made this tonight, very delicious! Added black beans and some orange pepper. Will add some cayenne pepper for some more spice next time.

    • Annette Brown

      I’ve made chili countless times on the stovetop. Today, I needed a recipe I could make ahead and put in crockpot. This was DELICIOUS! Meat was really tender. Thank you for posting.

      p.s. I didn’t have three cans of tomato sauce — just one. I used the one I had and added a generous squeeze of ketchup.

    • Steven

      Great recipe. I added an extra 2.5 Tbs of chili powder, 1 tsp of cumin a d 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. Tuned out amazing.

    • Tiana B

      Just made this and OH MY GOODNESS it is *chefs kiss* so good. I cut down on the onions because I’m not a fan and used both mild and hot diced tomatoes. It is perfect and my kitchen smells delicious. Will definitely use this again.

    • Craig

      Today I made my third or fourth batch. This was the best by far. I always think you’re a bit and frankly the last one was a little thin. Don’t recall why but I knew what I had done at the time! I used 20 oz of 80% lean burger and 12 oz of pork sausage we get from the farm. The big difference is this time I used Hans pasta sauce instead of tomato sauce. I took a chance and it worked out really well. I had mistakenly bought a whole case of this pasta sauce thinking it was tomato sauce and that was a month or so ago. So I found a use for it, at least some of it. I always add a small can of mushroom stems and pieces, and this time I also added green and red bell peppers about 15 or 20 minutes before the last addition, being the light and dark red beans. Oh yes. I added about a teaspoon of pretty hot green chilies, would have liked to have added the whole can. But I got away with it, my wife enjoyed it for dinner. Great recipe. Thanks.

    • Pat

      Yum!!! Made your recipe tonight and will definitely be making it again! My husband and I think it’s the best chili I’ve ever made! Thank you very much for sharing.