This Slow Cooker Chili recipe has been in my family for years! It’s an easy, homemade chili that’s cooked in the crockpot and packed with flavor. Garnish with your favorite toppings for all the delicious fun!

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

Our Favorite Slow Cooker Chili

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!” He loves that this recipe is heavy on the ground meat (I use a combo of ground beef and turkey), not-so-heavy on the beans, and loaded with layers of rich chili flavor.

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

Recreating My Mom’s Chili

I still think that Mom makes the best chili in the world. She seasons it just right. And I’ve always liked how she sprinkles in a little brown sugar to give it the slightest hint of sweetness.

But there’s something else that makes her chili so wonderful, and it took me a long time to figure it out. Mom adds her fresh canned tomatoes to chili, and this puts her chili over the top. All those years growing up, I sadly took this 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 at the grocery store – I personally love Red Gold tomatoes!

So I’ve modeled this Slow Cooker Chili to match my mom’s chili as much as possible! >>> You’ll find great seasoning and beautiful tomato flavor with this “dump all the ingredients in the Crockpot and walk away” recipe. The Crockpot melds all the flavors together in a magical way!

crockpot chili, shown in a white bowl

How to Make Chili in the Slow Cooker / Crockpot

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. 

Here’s how to make it:

Brown the ground beef: 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.

Add everything else to your 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 to cook and walk away: 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 Goes with this Beef Chili?

I like to make a batch of Honey Cornbread Muffins to serve with chili. The muffins are the perfect chili dippers, with a bit of sweetness that contrasts with the savory chili. 

And the bonus that goes with making honey cornbread muffins? Our girls love when there are leftover muffins for breakfast the following morning. Hatti and Tessa warm them up and eat them with a little butter and jam. It’s pretty fantastic!

crockpot chili and Fritos corn chips

So what else goes with chili?!

I grew up eating chili with saltine crackers. But 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’ variety, which are awesome for just scooping up the chili, no spoon needed. So much of our fun with food deals with dipping and scooping, don’t you agree?!

I also recommend adding a good sprinkle of cheese – it’s a classic chili topping. Cheddar, Monetary Jack, Pepper Jack – whatever your favorite kind of cheese is, odds are it will be fantastic all melted on top of a bowl of steaming chili.

More ideas for you: Top your chili with a spoon of sour cream, freshly chopped green onion or red onion, and/or diced avocado. If you like fresh lime (like I do!), squeeze a lime wedge over the top of your bowl. Delish!!

And what can you do with leftover chili? To create a whole new kind of meal, top perfect baked potatoes with chili. Offer shredded cheese, sour cream, and green onions for extra topping fun. We love this chili makeover meal!

slow cooker chili and cornbread muffins

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

This slow cooker chili can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.

To reheat, scoop the desired amount of chili into a small saucepan and reheat it on the stovetop, and stir regularly. However, you can also reheat it in the microwave. Just make sure to pause the the timer and give the chili a good stir about halfway through – otherwise the chili will not be heat evenly.

Tips for the Best Slow Cooker Chili

  • Use good quality beef and turkey. Always keep in mind that your finished dish is only as good as the ingredients that you use to make it!
  • Use the best canned tomato products you can find. I use and recommend Red Gold Tomatoes.
  • Be sure to drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the chili.
  • Adjust seasonings to suit your tastes. If you like heat, increase the quantity of chili powder or add a spicier chili powder. You could also add a seeded, minced fresh jalapeno pepper along with the onion and garlic!
  • I recommend the 6 hours of slow cooker time to achieve the best melding of flavors.

Can I Make this Chili on the Stovetop?

If you don’t have a slow cooker, then use a large heavy-bottomed pot on the stovetop.

Sauté the onion over medium heat in a tablespoon of oil until onion is softened; remove onion to a plate. Then add ground meat(s) to the pot and brown. Drain fat. Then add the sauteéd onion and remaining ingredients to the pot, stirring to combine. Stir occasionally, until chili is thoroughly warmed. Then turn heat down to low and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

Can I Freeze Crockpot Chili?

Yes! This chili freezes REALLY well. I do it all the time!

Just let the chili cool completely, then place it in an air-tight, freezer-safe container. Make sure you leave about an inch of space on top so that the chili has room to expand as it freezes.

When you’re ready to eat your chili, simply thaw it in the fridge and reheat as described above.

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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
  • 3 T. 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.