Slow Cooker Chili Recipe

Everybody has strong opinions on what makes great chili, but we think we can all agree that any time you can make a perfect batch without having to deal with slaving over the stove for hours is a win. This slow cooker chili enables you to put your own spin on it, like deciding what meat you want to use, and delivers slow cooker ease with minimal prep work. 

This slow cooker chili recipe was developed by blogger and food photographer Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska. "I just love a good crockpot recipe, so I wanted to develop an easy but delicious chili that would come together quickly but cook all day," she says. 

This slow cooker chili will serve up to four people and takes anywhere from four to eight hours to cook, depending on the slow cooker setting you decide to use. Read on for more details on how to prepare and enjoy this delicious chili all winter long.

Gather the ingredients for your slow cooker chili recipe

Before cooking anything, it's always a good idea to read through the entire recipe first, then make sure you have everything you need ingredients-wise. Then it's smart to measure it all out so when it's time to add it into the pot, pan, bowl, etc., it's ready to go and you don't waste any time (or let something burn) because you didn't have the next right ingredient prepped.

For this slow cooker chili recipe, you'll need a pound of the ground meat of your choice, chopped onion and chopped bell pepper, three cans of beans (you can choose any kind you prefer), a can of chopped tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic granules, and salt to taste. For the liquid that's added at the very end, you can either use water or the broth of your choice.

Brown the meat for your slow cooker chili recipe

For this slow cooker chili recipe, you can use ground beef, ground turkey, or something more exotic. Sampson says, "When making this crockpot chili, you can mix and match meat depending on what you have available to you. We get really fabulous locally made chorizo, so I like to use it in every recipe that needs a spicy kick!" We can't fault anybody for wanting to take advantage of a solid local chorizo hook-up. 

Regardless of the meat you use, it's always advised to brown meat before adding it to the slow cooker. In a large skillet or pot, brown the meat over medium heat for about one to two minutes, using a wooden spoon to break it up as you stir. There is no need to add oil or butter to the pan or pot since the fat from the meat will grease up the cooking vessel pretty quickly.

Stir onions and peppers in with the browned meat for this slow cooker chili recipe

After you've been stirring and browning the meat over medium heat for a few minutes, you can add the chopped onions and peppers to this slow cooker chili recipe. Stir them all together until the meat is completely browned. The onions and peppers should start to soften and smell fragrant. 

Sometimes, schedules only allow for people to cook in short timeframes. That's why crock pot recipes are so popular — you can just do everything in one dump and hopefully come back to a delicious meal. When you have to do a bit of cooking before the slow cooker does its cooking, the time required for the recipe doe goes up a bit. So for this slow cooker chili, if you need to do this step in advance, you can. Combine the meat, peppers, and onions as instructed on the stove, then refrigerate them until you're ready to add everything (including all the remaining ingredients) to the slow cooker.

Add the mixture to the slower cooker for this slow cooker chili recipe

Now it's time to start adding the slow cooker chili recipe ingredients to the slow cooker. First, put the mixture of meat, onions, and peppers into the crock of the cooker. Next, add the three cans worth of your preferred beans, which should be drained and rinsed at this point. Why do you have to go through the trouble of draining and rinsing canned beans? Not draining the beans can impact the ultimate flavor of the dish you're cooking beans in because the liquid preserving beans in those cans is basically just a whole lotta salt and starch. Of course, you can also use dry beans if you prep them ahead of time.

Stir the meat mixture with the beans before moving onto the next step, which involves your tomato-based ingredients followed by your spices and a final dose of broth.

Add tomatoes and spices to the slow cooker for this slow cooker chili recipe

At this point in the slow cooker chili recipe, you should incorporate the tomato-based ingredients. The recipe calls for one 8-ounce can of tomato sauce and one 15.5-ounce can of chopped tomatoes. Sampson uses fire-roasted tomatoes when she makes this chili but says that's not a requirement. "I do just because they seem to pack in a lot of flavor, but regular canned tomatoes work just fine," she confirms.

Once the tomato stuff has been poured in, you can add the remaining ingredients: chili powder, garlic granules, and salt. Garlic granules aren't as much of a pantry staples as, say, garlic powder or even fresh garlic. They're also not always easy to find at the store. If you don't have or can't find garlic granules, Sampson assures us,"You can absolutely sub in garlic powder or fresh garlic." We repeat: A lack of garlic granules should not stop you from executing this slow cooker chili recipe to perfection.

Pour broth into the slow cooker for this slow cooker chili recipe

If you haven't felt like this slow cooker chili recipe was super easy by this point, it's about to get even easier in this next step. All of the solid, bulk ingredients (meat, onions, peppers, beans, and spices) have been added to the crock pot. Now, it's time to add some liquid. This slow cooker chili recipes calls for two cups water or beef broth. It also notes that if you prefer a thicker chili, you can add less broth or water. It's really about your personal preference. For a lot of slow cooker recipes, you don't need to add a lot of liquid. When it's a soup, stew, or chili, liquid is necessary, but you don't want to add so much that you've got an excessive amount of it when the cooking time is up.

Cover and cook this slow cooker chili recipe

Once all the slow cooker chili recipe ingredients are added and everything's been stirred and combined, you'll secure the lid on the slow cooker. Then, the world is your oyster for the next four to eight hours. This recipe calls for the chili to cook on high for four hours or on low for six to eight hours. We asked Sampson if it makes a different, as in, is one way preferable even though you can technically do both? "I think cooking time really depends on what your personal schedule calls for," she says. 

It might be worth trying the recipe both ways. Lower and slower seems like it might be the most suitable route for chili, but since this one is fairly simple and you do a bit of cooking prior to the crockpot when you brown the meat and sauté the onions and peppers, we suspect higher temperature for less time will not have a negative effect on the final outcome.

Season and serve this slow cooker chili recipe

Whether you cook this slow cooker chili recipe on high or low, the recipe instructs you to taste it one hour before serving so you can decide if it needs more salt or spice. Then, let those extra spices marinate a bit before you eat it. It will then be time to enjoy your slow-cooked masterpiece. 

Oftentimes, the best part about chili is all the fixings you can serve alongside it. The toppings can make or break it. We asked Sampson what she likes to dole out on the side of (or on top of) this slow cooker chili, and she reports, "I like to serve this chili with a full complement of shredded cheeses, chopped green onions, sour cream, and either crackers or cornbread." A lot of folks also like hot sauce with their chili, so it never hurts to have a bottle (or six) lying around too.

Slow Cooker Chili Recipe
4.7 from 11 ratings
This slow cooker chili recipe enables you to put your own spin on it and delivers slow cooker ease with minimal prep work.
Prep Time
Cook Time
slow cooker chili
Total time: 6 hours, 10 minutes
  • 1 pound ground meat, beef, turkey, or chorizo sausage, etc.
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • 3 (15.5-oz) cans beans, black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans
  • 1 (15.5-oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules
  • ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
  1. Brown the meat over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, and then add the chopped peppers and onions.
  2. Cook and stir until the meat is browned.
  3. Pour the mixture into the crock of your slow cooker.
  4. Drain the beans and add them to the mix.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes, sauce, chili powder, and garlic.
  6. Add 2 cups water or beef broth and stir to combine (add less if you like it thick).
  7. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.
  8. An hour before serving, taste for salt and spice and add more as needed.
Calories per Serving 721
Total Fat 24.7 g
Saturated Fat 9.0 g
Trans Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 80.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 81.9 g
Dietary Fiber 20.9 g
Total Sugars 7.7 g
Sodium 893.4 mg
Protein 45.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe