This slow cooker beef chili is reminiscent of the chilis I devoured growing up in the Midwest, but with an amplified, rich flavor thanks to a slew of secret ingredients. In my opinion, there is absolutely NO BETTER meal to snuggle up with every snow day, game day or plain ‘ole Sunday. (New VIDEO below!)

Overhead shot of two bowls of beef chili, with a slow cooker and toppings alongside.

Slow cooker chili

When it comes to chili making, the slow cooker is queen. Her gentle heat softens and melds the various flavors, coaxing them into a cohesive dish that’s way more delicious than the sum of its parts. Even better, you can leave the slow cooker to do her thing—she’ll care for your dinner while you spend the day working, skiing, hiking, or cheering on (ahem, or screaming at) your favorite team. This recipe comes from my new book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker: Reinvent the Slow Cooked Meal (Storey Publishing, 2019). The book features a slew of vibrant slow cooker meals, from classics like this chili (as well as our favorite vegetarian version!), Beef Mole Tacos, Moroccan Braised Halibut, Vegetable Massaman Curry and so much more! 

Book cover of Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker.

Best crockpot chili recipe

This slow cooker chili recipe gets its incredible flavor thanks to a slew of secret ingredients, most of which are pantry staples. Here’s the run-down:

These ingredients are easy-to-find but transform the chili into something seriously special.

Close-up side view of a bowl of chili with a spoon.

Slow cooker turkey chili

You can absolutely make this chili using ground turkey if you prefer. Just go for dark meat turkey, which is juicier and will stand up better to the bold flavors. 

Can you make the chili ahead?

YES! This chili gets even better with time, so go ahead and make it today for tomorrow’s party (though that being said, it’s also delicious straight out of the slow cooker!)

Overhead shot of beef chili in the slow cooker.

How do you serve the chili?

I like to arrange several toppings for people to sprinkle over their bowls. Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, scallions and pickled jalapeños are just some ideas; you could also go for diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, hot sauce, or whatever you and your family love. I serve this chili with these Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins (which are also in the book!). The slightly sweet and cheesy muffins are PERFECT for sopping up the spiced chili. 

Bowl of chili with jalapeno cheddar cornbread muffins alongside.

Tips for making crockpot chili:

  • You’ll need a 4- to 7-quart slow cooker for this recipe (I recommend this 6-quart model). Different models cook at different rates, so use the times as an approximation (but don’t worry; this is a very forgiving chili!). 
  • It’s important to sauté the beef first for two reasons. First, it allows you to drain off the fat (otherwise you’d end up with a greasy, heavy chili). Secondly, it helps to build flavor.
  • The ingredient list might look long, but these are mostly things you’ll already have in your pantry and spice cabinet. 
  • If you’re gluten-free, be sure to use a gluten-free beer (I use Omission Pale Ale). You can also swap out the beer for chicken broth, if you prefer.
  • Strained tomatoes give the chili body. I use Pomi brand (which comes in a box). If you can’t find strained tomatoes, you can use canned tomato puree instead. 
  • You can swap in ground turkey (preferably dark meat) for the beef. 
  • I serve this chili with these Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins
  • Get a ton of other slow cooker recipes in my book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker!
Process shot divided into four quadrants showing the steps for making beef chili in the slow cooker.

Other slow cooker meals to try:

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Overhead close-up of a bowl of slow cooker beef chili.
5 from 1 vote
Print

The BEST Slow Cooker Chili

Adapted from Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker: Reinvent the Slow Cooked Meal, by Nicki Sizemore (Storey Publishing, 2019). This is my very favorite beef chili; it’s reminiscent of the versions I grew up with in the Midwest but with an amplified, rich flavor that I crave every snow day, game day or plain ‘ole Sunday. I know it looks like a lot of ingredients, but they’re mostly things you’ll have in your pantry and spice cabinet. A chipotle chili gives the chili a kick of spice, maple syrup lends sweetness, tamari imparts savory “umami-ness” and beer’s pleasant bitterness balances everything out. The chili is even better the next day. I love to serve it with these with Jalapeño Cheddar Spoonbread Muffins.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword slow cooker beef chili, slow cooker chili, slow cooker chili recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

Stovetop prep

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Slow cooker

  • 1 28- ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup strained tomatoes (such as Pomi brand)
  • 1 cup beer (lager or pale ale, gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 15- ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 canned chipotle chile, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

For serving

  • Toppings, such as: chopped tomatoes, sliced scallions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and/or pickled jalapeños
  • Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins (optional)

Instructions

Stovetop prep

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the meat in a colander or strainer set over a bowl (reserve the skillet).
  2. In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño, and cook 1 minute longer.

Slow cooker

  1. Scrape the vegetables into a 4- to 7-quart slow cooker and add the drained beef, diced tomatoes, strained tomatoes, beer, black beans, chipotle chile, tamari, maple syrup, chile powder, cumin, oregano and cacao powder. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve

  1. Ladle the chili into bowls and sprinkle with the toppings of your choice. Serve the Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins alongside, if you wish.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The chili can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Slow Cooker Jumpstarts:

  • Up to 1 day ahead: Chop the onions, carrots, garlic and jalapeño and refrigerate separately (or you can go ahead and cook them off).

Tips:

  • You’ll need a 4- to 7-quart slow cooker for this recipe (I recommend this 6-quart model). Different models cook at different rates, so use the times as an approximation (but don’t worry; this is a very forgiving chili!). 
  • It’s important to sauté the beef first for two reasons. First, it allows you to drain off the fat (otherwise you’d end up with a greasy, heavy chili). Secondly, it helps to build flavor.
  • The ingredient list might look long, but these are mostly things you’ll already have in your pantry and spice cabinet. 
  • If you’re gluten-free, be sure to use a gluten-free beer (I use Omission Pale Ale). You can also swap out the beer for chicken broth, if you prefer. 
  • Strained tomatoes give the chili body. I use Pomi brand (which comes in a box). If you can’t find strained tomatoes, you can use canned tomato puree instead. 
  • You can swap in ground turkey (preferably dark meat) for the beef. 
  • I serve this chili with these Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins
  • Get a ton of other slow cooker recipes in my book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker!

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product through a link you clicked on here, I receive a portion of the sale (at no cost to you). Thank you for supporting FromScratchFast!!

Stay Connected!

I’d love to hear what you’re cooking, and I’m happy to answer any questions! Be sure to tag any photos so that I can share! @FromScratchFast