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.



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