Slow Cooker Chili
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Slow Cooker Chili is easy to make and full of flavor. This is the perfect crockpot meal for family dinners or for feeding a crowd! Try this classic homemade chili tonight.
Thick and hearty slow cooker chili is one of my favorite easy crockpot recipes. If you’re looking for the best chili recipe to make in your slow cooker, you’ve found it. This easy chili recipe is made with ground beef, onion, garlic, spices, beans and tomatoes. Plus a secret ingredient that makes this homemade chili the best ever!
I love making chili recipes in the slow cooker. As the chili simmers all day, the flavors meld together and you end up with a rich, full-flavored chili.
You also can’t beat the convenience of slow cooker recipes, since you get all of the prep work done ahead of time! In the evening all that’s left to do is serve your slow cooker chili, with your favorite toppings.
This slow cooker beef chili recipe is delicious served with my easy one bowl cornbread recipe or tortilla chips for scooping. A simple green salad is a healthy addition to the meal.
Slow Cooker Chili Ingredients
- Olive Oil – The olive oil is for sautéing the onion before adding it to the slow cooker.
- Onion and Garlic – These aromatic ingredients provide a base layer of flavor for your chili.
- Ground Beef – I recommend lean ground beef for a leaner chili.
- Bell Peppers – You can use any color bell peppers that you prefer. The bell peppers soften down as they cook and are hardly noticeable in the finished chili. Adding bell peppers is an easy way to sneak in extra veggies.
- Blend of Spices and Seasonings, including chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, paprika, salt and pepper.
- Brown Sugar – This is my secret ingredient for the best chili! The brown sugar balances out the acidity from the tomatoes and the spice from the spices. You’ll use just 1 teaspoon of sugar, so the chili won’t be too sweet.
- Tomato Paste and Diced Tomatoes – The tomato paste helps to thicken the chili. I prefer to use fire roasted diced tomatoes because they add great flavor.
- Beef Broth – You can substitute chicken broth if you prefer. I recommend using a low sodium broth so that you can control the amount of salt.
- Beans – My favorite chili beans are kidney beans and black beans. Pinto beans are another good option.
How to Make Chili in the Slow Cooker
To make this easy chili recipe, you’ll start by sautéing onion in a large skillet on the stove. Once the onion starts to soften, add the ground beef to the pan. Cook the beef, crumbling it up, until it is browned.
Browning the beef before adding it to your slow cooker gives much better flavor to your chili. It also keeps your chili from being greasy and prevents the beef from clumping together.
Next you’ll add minced garlic to the beef and onion in the skillet and cook for just 30 seconds. You want to cook off the raw garlic flavor but want to be careful not to burn the garlic.
Transfer the onion, garlic and browned beef to your slow cooker. Then add the remaining chili ingredients, except for the beans, to your slow cooker. Stir until everything is well combined. Finally, stir in the beans. I like to wait and stir in the beans last so that they don’t get broken up as I stir the other ingredients together in the thick chili.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high. Then serve the chili with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Read more tips for how to use a slow cooker to make the best meals.
What toppings are best for chili is personal preference. Here are some ideas, and if you have another favorite chili topping leave a comment below.
- Shredded cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey jack or pepper jack
- Sour cream
- Crushed tortilla chips
- Chopped onion, such as red onion or green onion
- Fresh cilantro
- A squeeze of fresh lime juice
Tips for this Slow Cooker Chili Recipe
- You can use ground turkey in place of the ground beef for a leaner chili.
- You can add more vegetables to this chili recipe. Try finely chopped carrot, small cubes of sweet potato, chopped zucchini, celery or corn.
- If you can’t find fire roasted diced tomatoes, you can substitute regular diced tomatoes or fire roasted crushed tomatoes.
- If you want to make chili in your Instant Pot, try my Instant Pot Chili recipe.
More Slow Cooker Chili Recipes
- Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
- Slow Cooker Turkey Chickpea Chili
- Slow Cooker Chili Mac
Slow Cooker Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef, or ground turkey
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bell peppers, red, yellow or orange, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chili powder, see note
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 cup low sodium beef broth, or chicken broth
- 28 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add the ground beef in the pan and cook until browned, crumbling with a spoon or spatula.
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow cooker.
- Add the bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, tomato paste, broth and diced tomatoes to the slow cooker. Stir.
- Gently stir in the kidney beans and black beans.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- Serve chili with toppings as desired.
- If you can't find fire roasted diced tomatoes, regular diced tomatoes will also work. You can also substitute crushed tomatoes for the diced tomatoes.
- I make this recipe using mild chili powder, and the chili is mildly spicy. If your chili powder is hot, you may want to reduce the amount.
If I was to double the recipe, would you add more time? Would doubling be better suited for the instant pot method?
Always enjoy your recipes! Thanks you!
It is difficult to say how much longer the cooking time might be for doubling slow cooker recipes. Most of my recipes make pretty large portions and doubling them may exceed the heating capacity of some slow cookers. If you have a smaller crockpot or if you add too much for your particular slow cooker, it could take a lot longer, hours longer. There can also be food safety concerns if the slow cooker is overfilled with cold ingredients that are too much for the heating ability of the slow cooker. See my complete slow cooker guide that explains this issue and others more thoroughly.
With the Instant Pot, when doubling the pressure cook time will remain the same but it may take longer to come to pressure. Try a chili recipe from my round-up of easy instant pot chili recipes.
I haven’t made chili in years so I had to go to the internet. I liked this slow cooker version. The spices were just right. Next time I make it I will a little more salt for my preference but overall, delicious!
I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. 🙂
We really liked it so. Much better than packaged mixes.
Truthfully, I’m convinced the large amount of green peppers really makes this dish.
Excited to try this recipe Kristine. I’ve not tried one of your recipes that I’ve not loved. Thank you for all the hard work you put into testing & posting these recipes so we can serve our families yummy meals. I so appreciate that.
(I love so many of your recipes but I think my favorite is your beef stew! Delicious!)
Thank you Gretchen!
Should the diced tomatoes be drained before adding to the slow cooker?
No, do not drain them. Add the tomatoes and all of the juices to the slow cooker. I hope you enjoy the chili!
This was the best chili I have ever made and I am old…?
Do you need to drain the beans?
Yes, you should drain and rinse the beans.
If making this as a freezer meal, should the meat still be browned before putting it in the freezer bag?
You don’t have to, but I like to brown ground beef before adding to a freezer meal because I think it improves the flavor and texture. If you do brown it, be sure to let it cool before adding it to the bag with the other ingredients.
How would omitting the bell peppers change other ingredients and/or cook time?
You can omit the bell peppers without making any other changes.
I am not fussy about the cumin
This is a very simple & quick recipe…(note )I’m a little heavy handed on my dry ingredients BUT that’s just me. I recommend this recipe very highly…😉