Crockpot Chili is the ultimate set-it-and-forget-it dinner recipe! Made with lean ground beef, kidney beans, and a richly spiced tomato sauce, this chili develops maximum flavor with minimal effort.
This Slow Cooker Chili is one of our favorite crockpot recipes. Made with an award-winning homemade chili seasoning and always served with a side of homemade cornbread, this classic beef and bean chili is hearty, flavorful, and incredibly easy to make.
When the temps begin to drop and I find myself reaching for a sweater, I begin to crave cozy, comforting, warming soups, like Lasagna Soup and Broccoli Cheddar Soup, and chilis, like Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili and this Beef and Crockpot Bean Chili.
But year after year, the very first recipe my family begs me to make when a chill hits the air is this recipe for Crockpot Chili. It has been in my family for generations and is simply the best recipe for classic chili and one of our favorite chili recipes of all time.
Why You Will Love Crockpot Chili
- Easy, Flavorful Recipe. After browning the meat, this recipe becomes completely hands-off. The chili simmers low and slow in a crockpot, developing a rich, deep flavor that good chili is known for.
- Made with Simple, Affordable Ingredients. This is a no-frills, no-fuss recipe made with humble ingredients that simmer together to create an insanely flavorful chili.
- Adaptable. While I feel this recipe for Crockpot Chili is perfect as written, it is adaptable. You can use ground turkey in place of ground beef; tomato sauce in place of diced tomatoes, or add a jalapeno to add some heat to this recipe. Bottom line, you can use this recipe as a starting point and adapt it to suit your dietary preferences or what you have on hand.
- Make-Ahead Recipe. Chili is one of those recipes that tastes better a day or two after it has been prepared. That means you can make Crockpot Chili over the weekend and reheat to enjoy later in the week.
Ingredients for Slow Cooker Chili
- Ground Beef: I recommend using 85/15 or 90/10 ground beef, which is lean enough to prevent the chili from being greasy but has enough fat content to add flavor to the chili.
- Kidney Beans: Chili is classically made with kidney beans. I like to use a combination of both dark and light kidney beans but feel free to use one or the other.
- Chili Seasoning: For the most flavorful, perfectly seasoned chili, I always turn to my Chili Seasoning Recipe. This homemade blend has the perfect ratio of spices to create the most flavorful chili.
- Tomatoes: I recommend a mixture of crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes for the perfect flavor and texture.
- Aromatics: Fresh onion and minced garlic always go a long way to adding an incredible depth of flavor to the chili.
- Swap out the beef. In place of ground beef, use ground bison, ground turkey, or ground chicken. Regardless of the type of ground meat you opt to use, I would still recommend sticking to an 85 lean/15 fat or 90 lean/10 fat ratio for the best results.
- No kidney beans? Feel free to use pinto beans or red beans in place of the kidney beans.
- Hate the texture of diced tomatoes? Use additional crushed tomatoes in their place.
- Like it spicy? Saute up to 1 finely minced, seeded jalapeno along with the beef and onions.
Tips for the Best Crockpot Chili
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Tip #1: Brown the Meat. You don't want to add raw ground beef (or ground meat of any kind) to chili without browning it. Browning the meat develops flavor, renders out the fat which can make the chili greasy, and allows you to break the meat into bite-sized pieces. I recommend adding the onion to the meat while you brown it. This will help to flavor the meat and mellow out the flavor of the onion.
Tip #2: Cook on Low. Once you have combined the ingredients together in the crockpot, it is time to cook the chili. While you can opt to cook the chili on high heat, this is one recipe that benefits from being cooked low and slow when time permits. It will give the dried spices time to infuse the tomatoes and beef with rich flavor. Don't worry, your chili will still be delicious when cooked on high heat, but I do recommend low heat when possible. dd browned beef mixture to the slow cooker.
Tip #3: Don't forget the toppings. Once the chili has simmered, it is ready to be devoured. However, adding shredded cheese, crushed corn chips, sour cream, or jalapenos makes this chili even better!
How to Store Leftover Chili
- Refrigerate: Allow the Crockpot Chili to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to airtight containers and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: Allow the chili to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to airtight, freezer-safe containers leaving 1 inch of space for expansion. Freeze the chili for up to 3 months.
- Reheat: If needed, defrost the chili overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat on low in the slow cooker, in a saucepan on the stove over low heat, or in heat-safe bowls in the microwave in 1-minute intervals until warmed through.
Creative Ways to Serve Chili
While everyone loves a bowl of homemade crockpot chili topped with shredded cheese served with a side of cornbread, I have a few suggestions for creative ways to serve chili. This is a great way to transform leftover chili into a new dinner!
- Serve the chili over cooked spaghetti noodles or Instant Pot Brown Rice or Instant Pot White Rice. This is a great way to stretch a batch of chili to feed a crowd.
- If you find yourself with a small amount of leftover chili, use it to top an Instant Pot baked potato or Instant Pot sweet potato with a bit of cheese.
- This chili also makes a delicious base for Tamale Pie. Simply pour the prepared chili into a baking dish, top with the cornbread batter, and bake as the recipe directs.
- Use this chili as a topping for nachos or as a topping for a hotdog.
- Replace taco meat with leftover chili for a creative spin on taco salad.
More Comforting Chili Recipes
- Instant Pot Chili
- Butternut Squash Chili
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
- Lentil Chili
- Crockpot Chicken Chili
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I hope that you enjoy this recipe for Slow Cooker Chili and would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
- 2 pounds lean ground beef or ground turkey or chicken
- 1 small yellow or white onion diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 29 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 16 ounces diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chili seasoning see note for recipe
- 2 cups dark red kidney beans 16 ounce cans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups light red kidney beans 16 ounce can, rinsed and drained
- In a large non-stick skillet, brown beef and onions over medium-high heat, breaking the meat up into small pieces, as it browns. Once the meat is fully cooked, add in the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer, just to toast the garlic.
- Remove the ground meat from the skillet and if needed, drain off any excess grease. Add the browned meat to the slow cooker.
- To the slow cooker, add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, drained beans, and chili seasoning. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
- Serve with cheese, sour cream, chips, cornbread, etc