Slow Cooker Chili

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
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Everyone loves a good bowl of chili, and this Slow Cooker Chili is one of the best! Filled with lean ground beef, veggies, and beans, this chili recipe is super hearty, secretly healthy, and so easy to make. 

The Perfect Set-It-and Forget-It Chili Recipe!

I love a good set-it-and-forget-it recipe, don’t you? The crockpot is the perfect tool to make hearty, hands-free meals, like this easy chili recipe. This chili recipe is versatile and uses a lot of pantry staple ingredients to hopefully save an extra trip to the store. You can load it up in the morning (or even the night before) and let it go while you take care of other stuff. Dinner? Done! All you need are your favorite toppings and a slice of sweet cornbread.

Plus, a big batch of chili is actually super versatile. You can serve it one night as-is, with toppings of your choice. Then serve the leftovers a few nights later with baked potatoes or over hot dogs. Yum. And if freezing extra meals is your jam, this is perfect for that, too.

Close-up shot of chili with veggies and beef.

Is Chili Better in a Slow Cooker?

Well, it depends on what you mean by “better.” You can make a pretty mean chili on the stovetop (check out my Stovetop Chili, Homemade Keto Chili, and Chunky Beef Chili, just for starters)! Still, there’s something about slowly simmering your chili to really allow the flavors to meld and deepen. Nothing beats a crockpot for that!

From top: Ground beef, onion, chili seasoning, beef broth, kidney beans, pinto beans, corn, carrots, bell pepper, garlic, salt and pepper, diced green chiles.

What You’ll Need

  • Ground Beef: Extra lean ground beef is my go-to, but you can use any kind.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Onion: Dice up some yellow onion. If you don’t have yellow onion, you can use any kind of onion.
  • Bell Pepper: I used green bell pepper, but again, you can use any color.
  • Carrots: Carrots add a touch of sweetness and a little extra veggie power.
  • Chiles: Some real chiles add the perfect touch to this chili recipe. You could use your own roasted chiles, but a can of diced mild green chiles makes this step extra easy.
  • Corn: Canned sweet yellow corn, drained. Frozen corn would also work great.
  • Tomato Sauce: Make sure to use sauce, not paste – tomato paste is much more concentrated and won’t work for this particular recipe.
  • Beans: Both pinto beans and kidney beans add protein and fiber – plus, they’re delicious. Rinse and drain before adding to the chili.
  • Seasoning: Homemade chili seasoning is great, or you can use a packet of store-bought mild chili seasoning works too. If using store bought, I love this brand of chili seasoning.
  • Beef Broth: This adds some flavor and also allows the chili to cook up to the right texture over the long, slow cook time.
Close-up shot of chili with corn, beans, and beef.

How to Make Slow Cooker Chili

While cooking in your slow cooker is super easy, there is one extra step I highly recommend: browning the ground beef and sautéing the veggies before adding them to the crockpot. It only takes a minute, but it makes the overall dish taste perfect.

  • Brown the Ground Beef. Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray (or grease it lightly with cooking oil) and place over medium heat. Add the ground beef, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Break the meat apart as it browns. Once no pink is left, drain any excess grease.
  • Saute the Veggies. To the skillet with the beef, add your onion, bell pepper, and carrots. Cook for another 5 minutes to slightly soften the veggies.
  • Add Everything to the Crockpot. Transfer the cooked beef and veggies into the (cold) crockpot. Add the green chiles, corn, tomato sauce, pinto beans, kidney beans, mild chili seasoning, and beef broth. Give everything a stir, and cover.
  • Slow Cook. Cook the chili on HIGH for 4 hours, or on LOW for 6 hours. If you can, stir the chili every hour or so. The chili will thicken as it cooks.
  • Check on the Chili. After 4 hours of cooking, taste the chili and adjust the seasonings as desired.
  • Enjoy! Serve your slow cooker chili with all of your favorite toppings, such as sour cream, cilantro, chips, cheese, red onion, etc.
Overhead shot of slow cooker chili.

Can You Overcook Chili in a Slow Cooker?

While it might seem surprising, you can actually overcook chili in a slow cooker. It’s not exactly easy to do – this recipe can cook on HIGH for 4 hours, or LOW for 6 hours. But you may find that going over those time limits will make your chili a little overdone, with dry or crumbly beef.

Lifting a ladle of crockpot chili out of a crockpot.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

As I developed this recipe, a few things stood out to me about the various ingredients and how to get just the right thick, hearty chili. Here’s what I learned:

  • Lean Beef: Using 93/7 extra lean ground beef makes this dish extra easy, because you don’t have to drain any extra fat. Why? There’s just not much to drain off when you use meat that lean! Of course, you can also use fattier meat. If you are using anything under 90/10, I would recommend draining.
  • Beef Substitute: You can also use ground turkey in this recipe – it’s a good substitute and turns out very tasty, although it may not be quite as “meaty” tasting.
  • Add Heat: This chili is mild, not spicy. However, if you want more heat, that’s easy to fix: just add some cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, to your taste.
  • Beans: You can use different types of beans depending on what you prefer. If you like a lot of beans, you can add an extra can of beans. This recipe is super flexible!
  • Bell Pepper: I love the distinctive flavor of a green bell pepper, but if you’d like a more subtle pepper flavor, swap the green for a red, yellow, or orange bell pepper instead.
A bowl of slow cooker chili with a cloth napkin and sliced limes.

What to Serve with Chili

Around here, we love serving chili as a stand-alone dinner with a side dish or two, or over hot dogs, baked potatoes, or even buttered noodles. Yum. For a few sides that work beautifully with slow cooker chili, check out these easy recipes:

  • Bread: Any type of cornbread is good with chili, but this Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is especially good with it’s chili pepper kick. This thick and dense Beer Bread is also incredibly delicious with a bowl of chili!
  • Sweet Potatoes: Continuing on with our sweet and salty theme, swap a regular baked potato for an Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potato. And if you want to add a little cinnamon and maple syrup to that potato, you go right ahead!
  • Chips: Ahh, tortilla chips and chili. A classic combination, especially if you’re throwing a little sour cream and cheese on there. These Air Fryer Tortilla Chips are one more reason to love air frying. So fresh and so good!
Overhead shot of chili in a white bowl.

Storing and Reheating Guidelines

Store any leftover chili in the refrigerator, tightly covered or packed into airtight containers. It should keep for 3 – 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds or so at a time, stirring between each time. You can also reheat on the stove.

Can I Freeze This Slow Cooker Chili?

Yes, you can definitely freeze this chili successfully. Slow cooker chili should be cooled down and then transferred to freezer bags or freezer containers. Seal ’em up, leaving a little room for the liquid to expand as it freezes. Store in the freezer for up to three months, and thaw in the refrigerator before sealing.

More Great Crockpot Recipes

A bowl of slow cooker chili with beans, corn and carrots.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 6 Servings

Slow Cooker Chili Recipe

Everyone loves a good bowl of chili, and this Slow Cooker Chili is one of the best! Filled with lean ground beef, veggies and beans, this chili recipe is super hearty, secretly healthy, and so easy to make.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion, about 1/2 a large onion
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 4 oz 1 can diced mild green chiles
  • 1 15.25 oz can sweet yellow corn, drained
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 15.5 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15.5 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 oz mild chili seasoning, or 2 tablespoons homemade chili seasoning
  • 2 ½ cups beef broth

Instructions 

  • Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add in ground beef and salt and pepper to taste. Break meat apart as it browns. Drain off excess fat if desired and place back into pan.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper, and carrot, and cook another 5 minutes to slightly soften the veggies. Pour into the bottom of a cold crockpot.
  • Add in the green chiles, corn, tomato sauce, pinto beans, kidney beans, mild chili seasoning and beef broth to the crockpot. Stir well and cover.
  • Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours. (If you can, stir every hour, or as you remember.) Chili will thicken as it cooks.
  • After 4 hours, taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  • Serve chili with any desired toppings such as sour cream, cilantro, tortilla chips, cheese, avocado, red onion, etc.

Notes

  • Store and Freeze: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Lean Beef: Using 93/7 extra lean ground beef makes this dish extra easy, because you don't have to drain any extra fat. Why? There's just not much to drain off when you use meat that lean! Of course, you can also use fattier meat. If you are using anything under 90/10, I would recommend draining.
  • Beef Substitute: You can also use ground turkey in this recipe – it's a good substitute and turns out very tasty, although it may not be quite as "meaty" tasting.
  • Add Heat: This chili is mild, not spicy. However, if you want more heat, that's easy to fix: just add some cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, to your taste.
  • Beans: You can use different types of beans depending on what you prefer. If you like a lot of beans, you can add an extra can of beans. This recipe is super flexible!
  • Bell Pepper: I love the distinctive flavor of a green bell pepper, but if you'd like a more subtle pepper flavor, swap the green for a red, yellow, or orange bell pepper instead.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 283kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 68mg, Sodium: 684mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 6g

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This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.