Cozy up with crockpot chili with beans and keep warm! This slow cooker chili recipe is so simple, and it has just the right amount of ground beef, spices and beans in the perfect balance to become your new go-to recipe.
I don't mean to show my cards right away, but I know a thing or two about good chili. I am from Texas, after all. And you might say that Texans are known for not putting beans in their chili. While that is definitely true, I'm not one of those people. I love beans. Like, really really love beans. You might have guessed this, since you're on my site called Bean Recipes.
If you're a lover of my White Bean Chicken Chili, you are in the right place for the beefy, tomato-based version.
Beans are creamy, smooth counterparts to the ground beef in a chili. The same way that the kidney beans in Rajma soak up spices, the beef and the beans soak up the chili spice mixture differently. This makes every bite delicious!
Customize your chili with your favorite toppings, and you are on your way to becoming a chili cookout queen or king! This is my favorite thing to make with my crockpot, but my second favorite thing to make is this crockpot bbq pulled chicken.
Way to Customize this Chili Include:
- Swap out ground beef for Impossible meat to make a vegan chili that tastes nearly identical to a regular bowl of red.
- Instead of beef broth, use a bottle of amber beer.
- You can add even more spice with a chopped chipotle in adobo sauce, diced and stirred in at the same time as the canned tomatoes.
- If you have the absolute pleasure of traveling through the Southwest, pick up new chili powder blends to try in your crockpot chili. They vary region to region, and they will keep things so interesting.
- Add a few teaspoons of cocoa powder for a richer flavor. I have seen chili that wins competitions use this trick, and it's worth trying!
How to Make Crockpot Chili
This is not exactly a dump and set crockpot recipe. When it comes to chili, it really benefits from a quick sear of the ground beef. Cooking the beef in a skillet helps sear the outside of the meat and great a golden brown crust that brings so much flavor to the dish.
Th exception to this rule is if you have a crockpot that allows you to sear right in the crock. That is so great, but if not, do not worry--just use a cast iron skillet.
- Ground Beef. I use 2 pounds of ground beef that is 80% lean (or 20% fat). You can use leaner beef, if you prefer, like a 93% lean and 7% fat. I have also made this recipe using Impossible Meat, and it is delicious--you can hardly tell the difference because the spices are so strong.
- Onion. One large yellow onion, diced.
- Jalapeño. Optional, if you like it spicy, add one or two jalapeños. To slightly reduce the heat of a jalapeno, remove the seeds and white membranes. I highly recommend only touching the inside of a jalapeño with gloved hands--the oil can stick to skin for days.
- Garlic. One full tablespoon of minced fresh garlic
- Tomato Paste.
- Chili Powder. Chili powder is a blend of spices for chili. It is NOT the same as chilE powder. Chile powder is one variety of chile, dried and ground (and is often very spicy). Look for chili powder that has ingredients like smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and cumin.
- Oregano. Dried oregano is essential in chili, and I prefer Mexican dried oregano for its lemony notes (as opposed to Italian oregano which has a lot of mint undertones).
- Ground Cumin. Ground cumin is essential for giving chili its smokiness.
- Crushed Tomatoes. I like crushed tomatoes, because the only chunks in my chili are beef and beans; if you like a super chunky chili, replace the crushed tomatoes with diced and use all of the juices from the can.
- Kidney Beans. I prefer light red kidney beans for my crockpot chili with beans. The skins are super soft and the beans are more tender than regular dark red kidney beans, but use whatever you like best!
- Beef Broth.
- For serving: top your chili with corn chips, grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro or sliced scallions.
- Gather all ingredients, and have your 6 quart slow cooker ready. If you have a slow cooker that allows you to sear or sauté in the bottom, you can brown the beef in it and save a pan to wash!
2. In a large skillet (or the bottom of your slow cooker that has a saute function), heat the oil, and then turn the heat to medium-high. Add the ground beef, and cook while breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook the ground beef until almost all the way done, stirring occasionally, and then add the diced onion, jalapeño, and minced garlic, and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, cumin, and salt to the skillet. Cook the spices into the meat mixture for about 5 minutes, until fragrant.
4. To the bottom of a slow cooker, add the crushed tomatoes and kidney beans.
5. Next, add the contents of the beef skillet to the crockpot, and stir to coat everything very well. Note: if you sautéed your meat in the slow cooker, use a paper towel to absorb some excess oil from the slow cooker before adding it to the tomatoes and beans. The goal isn't to have all of the oil gone, but just to remove most of it. If you sautéed your beef in a skillet, just try to scrape the beef mixture into the crockpot while leaving most of the grease behind.
6. Add the beef broth. Place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Best Garnishes for Chili:
- Sour cream is a must, especially to cool things down if you left the seeds in the jalapeño and your slow cooker chili is super spicy.
- Tortilla chips are welcome for crunch, as are corn chips.
- Extra sharp grated cheddar cheese melts and makes the chili slightly creamy.
- Fresh herbs: sliced green onions and cilantro leaves.
Yes, you can absolutely make this recipe without a slow cooker. Instead of adding everything to a crockpot, just place it in a dutch oven pan. Place the lid on the pan and either slide it in the oven on 300-degrees for 4-5 hours, or leave it on the back burner of the stove on super low for 4 hours, stirring every hour or so.
This recipe yields a thick, hearty chili that can be scooped up with chips or a spoon. If for some reason you want it thicker, you can reduce the amount of beef broth by ½ cup. If you've already cooked a different chili recipe and find it too thin, dissolve 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in ½ cup of cold beef broth with a whisk. Add it back to your chili and bring the mixture to a simmer to thicken.
This recipe calls for adding the beans at the same time as everything else--in the beginning of the recipe. I have found that kidney beans are sturdy enough and do not dissolve in this recipe. If you're using pinto beans, you might not stir them into the crockpot until the last 30 minutes of cooking time (just to warm through).
Crockpot Chili with Beans
Crockpot chili with light red kidney beans.
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 2 pounds of 80% lean ground beef
- 2 cups (1 large onion), diced
- 1 jalapeno, diced (with seeds and membranes removed to reduce heat)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup chili powder
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans of light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups of beef broth
- Chili Toppings: grated cheddar, chips, sour cream, green onions
- Gather all ingredients, including a 6 quart slow cooker.
- If your slow cooker has a sear or saute function, use it here. If not, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the ground beef, and cook while breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook the ground beef until almost all the way done, stirring occasionally, and then add the diced onion, jalapeño, and minced garlic, and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, cumin, and salt to the skillet. Cook the spices into the meat mixture for about 5 minutes, until fragrant.
- To the bottom of a slow cooker, add the crushed tomatoes and kidney beans.
- Pour the ground beef mixture into the slow cooker, and stir to combine.
- Add the beef broth. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Serve in bowls garnished with sour cream, chips, grated cheddar, and sliced green onions.
Ground Beef or Impossible Meat work here. I use 80% lean beef. You can use 93% lean, if you prefer.
Chili Powder: Look for chili powder that has ingredients like smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and cumin. It is NOT the same as chilE powder. Chile powder is one variety of chiles, dried and ground (and is often very spicy). You need chili powder.
Crushed Tomatoes: IIf you like a chunky chili, replace the crushed tomatoes with diced and use all of the juices from the can.
Kidney Beans: Two cans of light red kidney beans, but regular dark red work, too. So do pinto beans.
Beef Broth or beer can be used.
For serving: top your chili with corn chips, grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro or sliced scallions.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 606Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 1956mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 10gSugar: 10gProtein: 48g
Cocoa: how much and when is it added in this recipe?
This recipe as-written does not call for cocoa powder. It is a suggestion in a bulleted list to add a few teaspoons, if you like. Add it when you add the other spices.
OK - I'll rephrase my question. Have you ever added cocoa to chili?
IF you were adding cocoa to this recipe (which sounds delish as is and is posted in my kitchen to make soon) how much would you add to start? Is one teaspoon too little, four teaspoons too much?
And, I did understand it was listed as a suggestion. Because this is something different from what I have ever done I am asking for input from someone knowledgeable about food and recipes. Just as I would if we were sitting someplace chatting about cooking.
Oh, I hear you, Sheila. Thank you for clarifying. Add 2 tablespoons at the same time as the chili powder.