6-Hour Slow Cooker Chili {my family’s favorite!}

Everyone should have a go-to chili recipe. Don’t you agree?

I still think Mom makes the best chili in the world. Part of the reason is that I love how she seasons it and how she adds a little brown sugar to give a hint of sweetness. But it took me a long time to figure out that it was her use of fresh canned tomatoes that put its flavor over the top. For all those years growing up, I just took it for granted. How I now yearn for her chili filled with summer preserved goodness.

For a long time, I struggled to find a chili recipe that both Blake and I wanted to call “ours”. But then he had something very distinct to say after I tried the 6-Hour Slow Cooker Chili recipe from the Williams-Sonoma catalog back in 2004. He said, “Never make chili any way but this way again.” It’s true. I even wrote down his quote on the page I tore from the catalog…

“Never make chili any way but this way again.” Blake, 12.04.04

It might seem that this was a monumental moment of our relationship. If chili can really make that happen for a couple, I’m not completely certain. But I do know that this recipe, since December 4th, 2004, has provided the base for our family’s go-to chili recipe. And I always get compliments on it. Especially from The Big Guy.

6-Hour Slow Cooker Chili {my family’s favorite!}

Yield: 10-14 servings


  • 3 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 14-oz. cans chopped tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 14-oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 3/4 c. ketchup
  • 2 c. low sodium beef stock
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 c. cornmeal
  • 3 to 6 T. medium chili powder, to taste
  • 2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c. brown sugar, to taste
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


* Please note that this recipe is highly adaptable, and I encourage you to play around with the kinds and quantities of herbs and spices to fit your own tastebuds.

* And...this recipe makes a large quantity. You will need a slow cooker with a minimum capacity of 5 quarts.

In a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat, brown the beef. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a slow cooker. Pour out any fat left in the saute pan. Add the ground turkey to the saute pan, brown it, and transfer it to the slow cooker with a slotted spoon. Add all the remaining chili ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to blend. Cover and cook for 6 hours according to manufacturer's instructions. My slow cooker only has a "high" and "low" setting, and I usually cook on high for 5 hours and then turn it to low for the last hour.

Ladle chili into warmed bowls and garnish with sour cream, chopped red onion, grated cheddar cheese, and chopped cilantro. I also like to serve this chili with Fritos Scoopsand some fabulous cornbread muffins.

Heavily adapted from a recipe I tore out of the Williams-Sonoma catalog many years ago.


I’m linking up with the following:

Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish
sponsored by KitchenAidRed Star Yeast and Le Creuset!


58 Responses to “6-Hour Slow Cooker Chili {my family’s favorite!}”

  1. #
    Just One Donna — February 17, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for sharing this. It looks yummy and I will definitely give it a try. I make chili a different way every time I make it….a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I’ve never added cornmeal, but I bet it makes a difference. Pinning as well….

    • Brenda replied on February 18th, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Even with a recipe, mine still tastes a little different each time, too. Just depends on my mood…sometimes spicier, sometimes sweeter, sometime more beans…but always yum! Thanks for sharing!

  2. #
    Maria — February 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Perfect for a chilly day! Love that it is made in the slow cooker too!

    • Brenda replied on February 18th, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Nothing better than a snowy winter day, with a slow cooker of chili simmering away! Have a great weekend, Maria!

  3. #
    Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids — February 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    This looks delicious, and the pictures of it are just beautiful. A thumbs up from the hubs is always a good sign of absolute recipe perfection. :)

    • Brenda replied on February 18th, 2012 at 10:03 am

      My husband’s pretty black-and-white, so when he says something like that, I know he means business. ;) Thanks, Natalie.

  4. #
    Paula — February 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I love the fact that you still have this page of the magazine after 8 years! Your adapted chili looks wonderfully warm and hearty.

    • Brenda replied on February 18th, 2012 at 10:05 am

      It’s been my process, since I started blogging, that I get rid of any associated recipes in their paper form (minus ones from cookbooks, etc.). But I can’t quite throw this one away yet. ;)

  5. #
    Cassie — February 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I’m such a fan of chili. This just sounds so hearty and looks delicious!

    • Brenda replied on February 18th, 2012 at 10:11 am

      Thanks, Cassie!

  6. #
    Harriet — February 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    It does look amazing! Do you think this would work with vegetarian mince? I live with a vegetarian and because its cheaper for us all to eat together we just have vegetarian mince in everything, in lasange and in spagetti bolognaise. But we haven’t had it in chilli before.

    • Brenda replied on February 18th, 2012 at 10:13 am

      So, you had me looking up “vegetarian mince”…I’m sure it would work just fine in this chili. Let me know how it goes, please!

      • Harriet replied on February 18th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

        Yeah its a funny kind of substance, mycoprotein I think. I wouldn’t eat it on its own but it tastes no different than minced beef when its in a lasange so we just have it cos its cheaper and easier!

        • Brenda replied on February 21st, 2012 at 10:02 am

          Well, I’m always learning something from you over there!! :)

  7. #
    Angela @ angelaskitchen.com — February 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    That quote from your hubby is so sweet! That same type of reaction from any of my family guarantees that I make a recipe again… and often! :) And the chili looks YUM!

    • Brenda replied on February 21st, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Well HELLO, my dear! So nice to hear from you! :)

  8. #
    Robyn | Add a Pinch — February 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    This looks like a delicious chili for a blustery day!

    • Brenda replied on February 21st, 2012 at 10:11 am

      Thanks, Robyn! :)

  9. #
    Living The Sweet Life — February 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Chili is a complete comfort food!! and simmering for 6 hours – – well I can just imagine the intensity of taste. I must make this … and soon :)

    • Brenda replied on February 21st, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Hope you like it, have a great day! :)

  10. #
    Julia {The Roasted Root} — March 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Hey lady, this chili looks delicious! I am a big proponent of the crock pot – put everything in the morning and ready by dinner! Plus, the volume you can make is awesome for leftovers. I love the recipe, thanks for sharing!

    • Brenda replied on March 6th, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      Hi Julia, nice to meet you! I live for leftovers, so this is a great recipe for that!

  11. #
    donna — April 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Heavily adapted? They’re both in a crockpot for 6 hours.. I think it ends there.

  12. #
    Robee — October 25, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Try using (any) beer instead of beef stock and add chopped cilantro…float 1 or 2 whole jalapenos in your chili while it cooks (don’t break open!) and you get the flavor without the heat. I’m famous for my chili and it is a LOT like yours!

    • Brenda replied on October 27th, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Thank you for the tips – they both sound excellent, and I’ll definitely give them a try!

  13. #
    Lesley — November 30, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I made this tonight and only made a few additions of my own – I added a can of corn and 1 tsp Nutmeg. I used about 5 T chili powder and the heat was pretty good, if not a little too mild (might add some Sriraca next time). Thanks for the recipe, me and my boyfriend loved it!

  14. #
    K — January 10, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Hi Thanks for the recipe, I’ve been looking for a good chili recipe.

    Do you think I could do this in Low heat setting instead of high and cook for longer? 6 hours is too long to make this after work, not long enough for me to put it on in the morning to have it ready by dinner time.

    • Olivia replied on October 22nd, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Has anyone tried this? I too am wondering with the same dilemma.

      • Brenda replied on October 22nd, 2013 at 8:59 pm

        Yes, cooking on low for longer would definitely work, too.

  15. #
    janelle — March 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    i made this today and it was a hit! i had never made chili before, and I have to say it turned out awesome. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Brenda replied on March 24th, 2013 at 7:50 am

      That’s awesome to hear, Janelle – thank you so much for coming back to let me know!

  16. #
    Kendall — August 29, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I found it two nights ago on a google search for a hearty thick chili recipe. I made it yesterday in the slow cooker. Now, I’ve made A LOT of slow cooker chilis in the past 6 years, but both my husband and I agree that this recipe far exceeds any other recipe we’ve ever tasted. Reminds me of my favorite pub chili. Thanks again. I pinned this. ;)

    • Brenda replied on August 29th, 2013 at 8:59 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this chili, Kendall! It’s a big pot of yum that I always look forward to. Sometimes I scoop out a meal’s worth right away, into a bowl and freeze it. Makes for a super quick meal on a cold day when I’m running short on time. Thank you so much for coming back to comment, I appreciate it!

  17. #
    Elizabeth Fitzmaurice — October 28, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    This sounds so good. I love chili but in my case, I’d have to cut the recipe in half (for a single gal like me) and cook it low and slow over a burner since I don’t own a slow cooker. That still ought to work and come out just as yummy, don’t you think? I hope!

    • Brenda replied on October 29th, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Yes, you’ll be fine Elizabeth. Enjoy!!

  18. #
    Tara — November 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    This recipe is a keeper. I’ve made many different chili recipes and this one is perfect. I actually used 3 pounds of ground bear meat and otherwise didn’t change a thing. I think the beef stock is what makes this chili so good and hearty.

    • Brenda replied on November 14th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      That’s wonderful to hear, Tara. I get so many compliments on this chili, and think the beef stock is a big contributor to its greatness, too. Bear meat? Now that’s something I don’t think I’ve ever ate. How did you get it?

  19. #
    Winnie — March 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    This looks yummy,I make beef chili, and turkey chili but never combined the two. I will give this a try for sure. Thank you.

  20. #
    Laura — April 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    This is absolutely delicious, I just lessened the sugar amount and halved it, put only beef in and left out the tomato sauce. Absolutely delish

  21. #
    tonya ramsey — September 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Hey I was wondering what the cornmeal did in this recipe. I currently do not have any in the house and would hate to have to go the store. Plz let me know..

    • Brenda replied on September 17th, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Hello Tonya – it thickens the chili a bit, and adds some corn flavor. You could definitely make it without.

  22. #
    donna — October 13, 2014 at 11:12 am

    my slow cooker died – a lot of sites give opinions and are paid for the opinions of slow cookers. could you please advise – non biased as to a safe – no burn, no chip, no cracks – slow cooker. Thank you

    • Brenda replied on October 16th, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Hi Donna – I have two slow cookers and like them both – Set & Forget Programmable 6-qt. Slow Cooker by Hamilton Beach and the Cuisinart Cook Central Multi-Cooker 7-qt. I like them both for different reasons. They have very different price points. I don’t have any experience with any others.

  23. #
    Kendall — October 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I found this recipe on Pinterest a year ago now, and have been making this chili every time since I found it. It is the best chili my family has ever had. I shared this recipe with my in-laws and now it’s the only chili recipe they make too. I posted a link to this page from my facebook today because everybody needs to try this! So good! And the consistency comes out different every time, but the flavor is always spot-on! Also, after we freeze the leftovers and eat them a week or two later, they are better flavor and texture-wise than freshly made. I also use it to make chili-mac with pasta. So good! And topped on a loaded baked potato. Making it tonight in fact! Thanks for sharing this amazing fall/winter treat. :D

  24. #
    Stephanie — April 4, 2015 at 6:47 am

    This is excellent!!! My larger crockpot stopped working, so I had reduce this for my little one. I left out a can of beans and 1 can of chopped tomatoes and it still was delicious. This will be made again! I also lowered the garlic, but because of the less tomatoes and some sensitivity. It also froze well, of course.

    • Brenda replied on April 12th, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      I’m so glad you liked this! It’s a favorite meal at our house, and one that I like to freeze, too.

  25. #
    Bobford — October 26, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Trying this for a potluck at work Friday. Sounds wonderful.

  26. #
    Sherry — November 11, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Do you think that the ketchup can be eliminated?


  1. Pingback: Crockpot Chili and the wine to go with it | A Good Time With Wine

  2. Pingback: 100 Best Super Bowl Party Recipes | the little kitchen

  3. Pingback: 50+ Award Winning Chili Recipes & GIVEAWAYS!

  4. Pingback: 17 Traditional and Alternative Crock Pot Chili Recipes

  5. Pingback: Chilly Chili | Crock-a-Dile Pot

  6. Pingback: Football Food Favorites • Cooking | Add a Pinch

  7. Pingback: 31 Easy Crock Pot Chili Recipes | Blended

  8. Pingback: 10 Slow Cooker Soups and Stews {#FarmgirlFaves} • a farmgirl's dabblesa farmgirl's dabbles

  9. Pingback: Football Food Favorites! – Add a Pinch

  10. Pingback: 20 Game Day Chili Recipes - Balancing Motherhood

Leave a Comment