Slow Cooker Chili – Our family’s favorite homemade classic chili recipe, made easy in a crockpot. Garnish with your favorite toppings for all the delicious fun!

chili shown in a bowl with Fritos, cheese, and sour cream

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

For a long time, I struggled to find a chili recipe that both Blake and I wanted to call “ours”.

Then about five years after we were married, I made this Slow Cooker Chili recipe. Blake said, “Never make chili any way but this way again.” 

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.

All I do know is that this homemade chili recipe has continued to be our family’s go-to. And I get requests for the recipe whenever I make it for guests. That’s a sure sign the recipe’s worth keeping around!

For fun chili recipes that wander a bit from the classic, be sure to try these recipes: My Creamy Enchilada Chili gives you all the flavors of enchiladas, without the tortillas. And End of Summer Chicken Chili is chock-full of fresh garden veggies and herbs – I especially love the fun pops of sweet corn kernels!

slow cooker chili

Slow Cooker Chili

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 touch of brown sugar to give a slight hint of sweetness.

But it took me a long time to figure out that it’s Mom’s use of fresh canned tomatoes that puts her chili flavor over the top. For all those years growing up, I just took it for granted. How I still yearn for her chili filled with summer preserved goodness.

While I simply don’t have the time or desire to can tomatoes at this stage in my life, it’s still pretty darn easy to find great canned tomatoes on the shelves of our grocery stores (I personally love Red Gold tomatoes.).

Cue the fabulous Slow Cooker Chili!

I love how I can just “dump and walk away” with this recipe – it’s the beauty of a Crockpot!

crockpot chili, shown in a white bowl

How to make crockpot chili

It’s easy to make chili in a slow cooker.

And I especially like this recipe because it makes a large quantity. It’s great for feeding a larger group or for freezing half for a future meal. Because, yes, this chili can be frozen with great results. 

Start off by browning ground beef or a combination of ground beef and ground turkey in a multi-cooker slow cooker. If your slow cooker doesn’t have a browning function, brown the meat in a skillet and transfer it to the slow cooker.

Then add all the remaining ingredients – some of which are diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef stock, beans, chili powder, and cumin – and stir to combine.

Set the heat to “high” and let the chili simmer away for six hours or so, stirring every couple hours if convenient. It’s really that easy.

a pan of honey cornbread muffins

What to serve with chili

I like to make a batch of Honey Cornbread Muffins to serve with chili.

And our girls love when there are leftover cornbread muffins to eat for breakfast the following morning. Hatti and Tessa warm up the muffins and eat them with a little butter and jam.

slow cooker chili and cornbread muffins

The muffins are the perfect chili dippers, with a bit of sweetness that contrasts with the savory chili. 

crockpot chili and Fritos corn chips

Our family also really, really, REALLY likes Fritos corn chips with chili. Sometimes I buy the regular ones, shown in my photos. And sometimes I buy the scoops, which are awesome for just scooping up the chili, no spoon needed. Either way, those salty corn chips are fabulous with chili. 

So much of our fun with food deals with dipping and scooping, don’t you agree?!

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pinterest image of slow cooker chili
crockpot chili, shown in a white bowl

Slow Cooker Chili

Yield: 14 servings
Cook Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes

This easy recipe simmers all day to give you bowls of fantastic classic chili flavor. Garnish with your favorite toppings for all the delicious fun!

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 (14.5-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. yellow corn meal
  • 3 to 6 T. medium chili powder, to taste (will depend on the heat of your chili powder and your own heat preference)
  • 2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I like a good amount of black pepper!)

Instructions

  1. Brown beef and turkey in a slow cooker with a browning function. Drain fat. If you don't have a browning function on your slow cooker, then: In a large, heavy skillet 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.
  2. While meat is browning, prepare and portion remaining ingredients. Add remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to blend. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours.
  3. Ladle chili into bowls and garnish with sour cream, chopped onion, grated cheddar cheese, and chopped cilantro. I also like to serve this chili with wedges of fresh lime, Fritos corn chips, and fabulous cornbread muffins.

* 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.

Notes

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

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 521Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 762mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 7gSugar: 11gProtein: 49g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

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This post was previously published in 2012. Some of the photographs and some of the text were updated in 2019.