Spicy Slow Cooker Chili Colorado Recipe

Prep time: 45 minutes. Cook time: 3 hours and 30 minutes. Servings: 6 to 8.

A Tex-Mex favorite, chili colorado — aka "red chili" — is a hearty stew made with meat cooked in a distinctly thick, spicy, smoky gravy. This beef-centric dish is not the typical American chili featuring ground beef, vegetables, and beans. It gains its deep, bold flavors from cooking down rehydrated dried chilies and blending them into the stew itself. The dense red sauce that sets this chili apart from others is often considered "the essence of Mexican flavor."

This slow cooker version effectively melds authentic Mexican flavors with a little help from your trusty slow cooker. It's the kind of recipe that requires some initial prep, after which you can sit back and relax while the dish cooks itself. Three types of dried chilies — New Mexico chilies, ancho chilies, and chilies de arbol for some serious heat — are rehydrated with hot water and blended into a thick puree used to flavor the chili's signature red sauce. Onion, garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and beef broth lend irresistible aromatic accents. At the end of a few hours' cooking time, you're rewarded with a beef chili that's thickly coated in vibrant saucy perfection.


Shopping list

  • 4 to 5 dried New Mexico chilies
  • 2 to 3 dried ancho chilies
  • 1 to 2 chilies de arbol
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ¾ pounds stew beef, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • juice of ½ lime
  • brown rice, queso fresco, avocado, and tomato for serving (optional)


  • large pan
  • slow cooker

Prepare chilies

Place the dried chilies in a large pan over medium-high heat and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the seeds and stems and transfer the chilies to a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water and set aside to soak for about 30 minutes.

Sear beef

While the chilies soak, season the beef all over with as much salt and black pepper as desired. Heat the pan from the chilies over medium-high heat and (working in batches) if necessary, sear the beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to the slow cooker.

Puree chilies

Transfer the softened chilies along with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the soaking water to a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker with the beef.

Cook chili

Add the onion, garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and beef broth to the slow cooker with the chilies and cover with the lid. Cook on high for about 3 hours.

Season chili

After 3 hours, add the parsley and honey to the slow cooker. Season with more salt and black pepper as desired. Stir to combine, cover with the lid, and continue to cook until the meat is completely tender, about 30 minutes more. Serve with brown rice, queso fresco, avocado, and tomato if desired.