Slow Cooker Chili

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Slow cooker chili is my number one, go-to recipe when I’m not sure what to make for dinner. 

This simple chili recipe is protein packed and hearty with not one but three kinds of beans. It’s a prep and pour kind of recipe and that’s exactly what I like in a slow cooker dinner.

Below I’ll share the ingredients for the best slow cooker chili as well as the steps to make it. You’ll also find some variations and tips for making this chili recipe your own.

Slow Cooker Chili: A bowl of beef chili with cheese on top

Slow Cooker Chili Ingredients

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Chili (see list below)

(Serves 6)

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can chickpeas
  • 14 oz. can black beans
  • 14 oz. can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth or water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to your taste level
  • 1 large jalapeno (optional)
  • 1 small chipotle pepper with 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (optional)

Quick Tip To Avoid Mushy Vegetables

Chopped Bell Peppers

Many slow cooker recipes end up with vegetables that no longer have a nice texture once cooking is finished. This can be the case with the bell peppers in this slow cooker chili recipe, so I’ve come up with a solution.

Since they’re sitting in the slow cooker hot tub for several hours, I don’t sauté them beforehand. I add them, raw, on top of all my other ingredients before I turn my slow cooker on. They’ll melt into the other ingredients as everything cooks, but won’t become too soft.

Slow Cooker Chili Instructions

Earlier I said this was a prep and pour recipe. The prep steps take the longest, but there are so few that it’s still a simple chili recipe. 

1. Prepare The Vegetables

Chopped Peppers, onions, and beans

Start by dicing up the onion into small, ½ inch pieces. 

Remove the core and seeds from the bell peppers and dice them into ½ inch pieces, about the same size as the onions.

Drain the beans and rinse them in a large colander. Set all of the vegetables aside. 

2. Brown the Meat

Ground Beef being fried in a pan

Pour olive oil into a skillet over medium heat and add the chopped onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and then add the ground beef. I also add a pinch of salt and pepper at this step.

Cook over medium heat until the ground beef is cooked thoroughly and has browned, about 8 minutes. 

Use a slotted spoon to drain the meat mixture and get it into the bottom of your slow cooker.

3. Add the Flavor

Ground beef with chili powder, garlic powder, cocoa powder, oregano, and cinnamon sprinkled over it

Sprinkle the chili powder, garlic powder, cocoa powder, oregano, and cinnamon over the meat mixture.

Beans in slow cooker

Pour in all of the rinsed beans and add the can of diced tomatoes over everything and then the broth or water. 

Chopped Bell Peppers

Add your raw bell peppers on top of everything and top with salt and pepper. As mentioned above, this keeps the peppers from softening too quickly.

If you really prefer softer peppers you can absolutely stir them in. And if you prefer the peppers to retain some of their crunch, you can add them to the top halfway through the cooking process.

4. Stir Everything and Set the Timer

Beef chili being cooked in slow cooker

Set your slow cooker to low heat for 7-8 hours or cook on high heat for about 5-6 hours. If I’m at home, I normally do the high-heat method. But if I’m going to be out all day, I’ll do low and slow. 

Best Slow Cooker Chili Toppings

Yummy cheese toppings on slow cooker beef chili

One of the best parts about beef chili is that you can get creative with the toppings and make it your own. Some of my favorites include:

  • Greek yogurt, I prefer this to sour cream but sour cream is a fan favorite
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Cornbread croutons
  • Oyster crackers
  • Corn chips
  • Avocado
  • Green onion

Slow Cooker Chili Variations

As with toppings, you can make this classic chili recipe your own by how you prepare it. Try some variations to find which one fits your taste and cooking style best.

Stovetop

This recipe can be made on the stovetop instead of a slow cooker. The steps are the same, except you will sauté the bell peppers along with the onions before adding the ground meat.

I find that I need about 1 cup more broth or water when I cook this on the stovetop. This method requires a bit more babysitting, but it still turns out delicious. 

Hot and Spicy Chili

Above I listed a jalapeno and a chipotle pepper as optional ingredients. This chili has quite a bit of flavor with its original ingredients, but the spice level is mild.

To spice things up, you can remove the seeds (the more seeds you keep, the hotter the flavor will be) from one jalapeno and finely dice it, adding it to the onions when you sauté them.

You can also dice up a small chipotle pepper and add that at the same time as the crushed tomatoes into the slow cooker.

Vegetarian

Since this recipe has three beans, it is an excellent vegetarian slow cooker chili option. Follow the steps above, omitting the meat. 

I recommend that you still saute the onions before adding them to your slow cooker for a richer flavor and softer texture.

Other meat options

If you don’t eat beef or prefer a leaner option, this slow cooker chili recipe is great with ground turkey or ground pork. They are cooked in the same way as the ground beef, so no changes to the recipe are needed.

Keto Friendly

The carbs are mainly coming from the chickpeas and beans. These are pretty healthy carbs, but they don’t work on a low carb diet.

I recommend substituting the chickpeas and beans with chopped mushrooms. You probably should only put about half as much mushrooms as you had beans and chickpeas. So 21 oz of mushrooms.

Just Add Less Ground Beef

If you’re not feeling particularly carnivorous, this recipe works well with less ground beef (ie. 1 pound.) Everything else stays the same, it now serves 4-5 people and is a bit less “meaty”.

Slow Cooker Chili Tips

  • If you do end up cooking 2 pounds of ground meat, brown it in batches to avoid steaming it for the best flavor.
  • One of my favorite ways to eat slow cooker chili leftovers is on toasted sourdough bread with an over easy egg on top.
  • Slow cooker chili is safe in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • You can freeze chili by letting it cool completely and then spooning servings into freezer-safe bags. I like to do bags of 4 servings or single servings. Lay the bags flat in your freezer and keep for up to 6 months. 

Now It’s Your Turn

Beef Chili being served

If you need a quick and easy weeknight recipe, this is the best slow cooker chili recipe to try. It’s got loads of flavor with minimal effort and you can make extra to freeze for later. 

Now that I’ve shown you how to make chili, get your slow cooker out of the cabinet, start thinking about your toppings of choice, and get to cooking! 

Print

Slow Cooker Chili

 

  • Author: Beatriz Garcia
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Texan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can chickpeas
  • 14 oz. can black beans
  • 14 oz. can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth or water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to your taste level
  • 1 large jalapeno (optional)
  • 1 small chipotle pepper with 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (optional)

Instructions

1. Prepare The Vegetables

Dice the onion into small, ½ inch pieces. 

Remove the core and seeds from the bell peppers and dice them into ½ inch pieces.

Rinse and drain the beans.

Set all of the vegetables aside. 

2. Brown the Meat

Sauté the chopped onions for 2-3 minutes in a skillet and then add the ground beef. Add a pinch of salt / pepper to your taste.

 Cook the ground beef thoroughly (about 8 minutes). 

Drain the meat mixture and place into the slow cooker.

3. Add the Flavor

Sprinkle the chili powder, garlic powder, cocoa powder, oregano, and cinnamon over the meat mixture.

Pour in the beans, add the can of diced tomatoes over everything, and then the broth or water. 

Add your raw bell pepper and top with salt and pepper.

4. Stir Everything and Set the Timer

Set your slow cooker to low heat for 7-8 hours or cook on high heat for about 5-6 hours.

If I’m at home, I normally do the high-heat method. But if I’m going to be out all day, I’ll do low and slow. 

 

Tried this Recipe?

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