Crock Pot Chili is the perfect main dish for family dinners, as a Game Day recipe, or when you’re craving some hearty comfort food. With just a few main ingredients such as ground beef and canned beans, you can focus on ramping up the flavor with homemade chili seasoning. Delicious as-is for the whole family, while being easy to customize for those who live life more on the spicy side with this slow cooker recipe.
The Best thing about Chili
While I don’t know if there is truly one best thing about chili, I can certainly think of at least five! Chili is one of those dishes that everyone has a secret family recipe for. Being packed full of protein and flavor, it is the epitome of classic comfort food. It can be made on the stove-top, the Instant Pot, or simmering all day in the Crock Pot like this one.
Crock Pot chili is so easy to make that it’s likely to show up on your meal plan more than once per month. While I’m sure you’re going to love this chili recipe with ground beef, feel free to change things up with our White Chicken Chili. Either way you decide to make it, you’ll need this cornbread recipe to serve with it.
Ingredients and Variations
Use 80/20 or 85/15 when choosing ground beef from the butcher. You can also use ground turkey, ground chicken, or unseasoned ground pork.
We’re using kidney beans here but you can substitute almost any bean you have in your pantry. Beans really add a heartiness to a dish, but do not lend much in the way of flavor, which is super helpful for using up that can of beans that have been in your pantry since last fall.
Onions & Garlic
This is where you can really start to change the flavor of this dish. Using yellow onions is standard and delicious, but if you’re going to crank up the heat in this chili, you may want to consider Vidalia onions that are a bit sweeter and would act as a balancing agent to the heat.
Canned Tomatoes & Sauce
Canned tomatoes vary in sizes as well as flavors. You can use standard canned diced tomatoes, fire-roasted, or even diced tomatoes with green chilis for more of a Mexican chili.
Beef Broth or Water
For more flavor, always opt for broth.
Cumin, Chili, Garlic, Paprika, Salt, and Pepper are the MUST have spices when making a homemade chili. You can easily add more spice with seasonings such as Adobe, Chipotle Chili, and even a Tablespoon of molasses.
How to cook chili in a slow cooker
Step 1: Brown the beef
The best beef to use for chili is full of fat and flavor. You can purchase this as 80/20 or 85/15. Because it’s so high in fat, we do want to make sure to brown it in a skillet and drain of the excess fat before adding it to the slow cooker. This will keep your chili from becoming too oily.
Step 2: Sauté the onions
Retain a few tablespoons of that fat to saute the onions in. Onions in the slow cooker tend to not break down well. So this is another step to do on the stove-top to ensure we don’t have crunchy onions in our chili.
Step 3: Add the seasonings
The trick to developing deep flavors, in just about anything, is not adding raw seasonings to the dish. Just as your burger and onions are about done, add in the dry spices and cook for a minute or two. This is a method calling “cooking out” that removes unwanted bitterness from your dried spices.
Step 4: Add all ingredients to the Crock Pot
Now dump everything into a Crock Pot and stir with a wooden spoon. Cover and allow to cook until your ready to serve.
How long to cook chili in a crock pot
As a general rule of thumb, cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. I highly recommend keeping it on low for 6-8 hours if you can. This really gives the flavors a chance to develop without risking the burning of your liquid to the side of the crock-pot.
Tips for success:
- An easy way to make this a chili everyone loves is with a chili topping bar. Include little bowls and spoons of ingredients such as cheddar cheese, hot sauce, sour cream, cilantro, parsley, scallions, saltines, and more!
- Be sure to have the right tools for the job. A 12-inch skillet and this spatula make browning burger a breeze!
- Do not overload your Crock-Pot. Be sure to use a 6-quart slow cooker for this recipe. Too big of a slow-cooker and your chili will get too hot too quickly and burn to the side of your Crock Pot. Too small of a slow-cooker and you risk overfilling and again the chili not heating evenly.
What to make with leftovers
If you love chili and have anywhere from 1 cup to a whole second batch of chili hanging out in your fridge, you’ll want to try one of these delicious recipes.
- Chili Cheese Dip – Replace the can with 1-1/2 cups of slow-cooker chili.
- Rotel Dip – Use about 2 cups of this chili in place of the ground pork sausage.
- Spoon over these How To Cook Hot Dogs In the Crock Pot for chili cheese dogs!
Even if the recipe doesn’t call exactly for chili, you can use the chili as a substitute for ground beef. BONUS: this will help you with meal planning too! Plan this slow-cooker chili for Sunday and work leftovers into an easy dish on Monday.
Other Crock-Pot recipes you’ll love
- Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Slow Cooker Mississippi Roast Sandwiches
- Crock Pot Ravioli Lasagna
- 4-Ingredient Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
- Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Crock Pot Chili Recipe
- 6-quart slow-cooker
- 12-inch skillet
- paper towels
- cutting board
- garlic press
- measuring spoons
- 2 lb Ground Beef
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 30 oz kidney beans two 15oz cans, drained and rinsed
- 30 oz diced tomatoes with their juice
- 1 cup beef broth or water
- 14 oz tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp cumin powder
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté beef breaking it up with a spatula.
- Add onion to the skillet and sauté until tender (4-5 minutes). Add minced garlic and seasonings: cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, smoked paprika. Cook another 30 seconds stirring constantly. Transfer to a 6 Qt slow cooker.
- Add remaining ingredients into the slow cooker: rinsed and drained beans, diced tomatoes with their juice, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and water. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
- Serve with toppings – cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream, saltine crackers, etc.