Bowls of chili

Slow Cooker Chili Recipes

Publish Date December 8, 2023

There’s nothing better than a comforting bowl of chili on a cold day. But sometimes our schedule prevents us from making dinners that require a lot of time in the kitchen. Luckily, one of the best ways to get rich, flavorful chili is to make it in the slow cooker.

Classic Slow Cooker Chili

Classic chili is a true crowd pleaser that tastes best after a long, slow simmer – the perfect job for a slow cooker.

Slow cooker chili is an easy and cost-effective way to feed the entire family. Most chili recipes have several pantry staples in them that you may already have, such as:

  • Canned or dried beans
  • Stock
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Tomato paste

You can always make your own chili seasoning recipe as well, using common household seasonings like:

  • Black or white pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder

Chili doesn’t have to always be the star of the show, either. Use leftover chili as a topping for hot dogs or burgers, to make nachos for a fun family movie night or to spice up a baked potato.

No matter how you’re serving your chili, we’ve got you covered with a few of our favorite time-saving slow cooker chili tips and recipes.

Shop Chili Ingredients

How Long to Slow-cook Your Chili

The traditional method of making slow cooker chili is to first use a skillet to brown the beef. Make sure to drain the fat after browning, then add onions and any other flavors you like. Then add your meat into the slow cooker, along with your other chili ingredients. If you’re using dried beans, you can add them here. If you’re using canned, then wait to stir them in right before serving to keep them from getting overly done. You can cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Though it’s fine to put raw meat in your slow cooker, browning the meat beforehand creates a richer, bolder flavor. If you don’t have time or want to avoid the extra cleanup, you can skip this step in most chili recipes. When serving, it’s fun to create a chili toppings bar so everyone can customize their own bowl. Try adding sour cream, fresh herbs, chips and crackers (for added crunch), cheese or jalapeños.

The Basics of Beef Chili

Chili with beef can be as classic or kicked-up as you want. It’s also a great food to experiment with once you learn the basics. You can easily switch up seasonings and ingredients to create something completely new. If you like a thicker consistency, consider adding more beef or beans to the mix. For something thinner, cook for less time and add more broth. Adding grains can be a fun way to update an old standby recipe. For those days when you have a bit more time, check out our favorite tips on how to make the best chili without using a crock pot.

Change Up Your Chili Protein

For most chili recipes, chicken, turkey or even pork can be used in place of beef, giving you an endless array of options. For a healthier alternative, swap ground beef for ground turkey or chicken. Try this Slow Cooker Turkey Chili recipe or experiment with the Mediterranean flavors in this Greek White Chicken Chili. Once you get comfortable with the basics, switching up your chili game and experimenting can be a fun way to add a variety of delicious flavors to your meal plans.

Venture into Vegetarian Options

Now you can finally use some of those dried bean you have hidden in the back of the pantry. When making vegetarian slow cooker chili, just remember that most vegetables aren’t going to take as long to cook as the ingredients in a traditional chili. Mushrooms can add a meatier texture while grains work well to fortify and add protein to your dish. If you’re looking for inspiration, try this Sweet Potato and Chickpea Chili recipe.

No matter how you like your chili, making it in the slow cooker is an easy way to save time while enjoying a homecooked meal.

More Chili Recipes

Get Cooking

Ready to get started? Read more about how to make chili and get cooking with this healthy, hearty favorite recipe of ours. For more inspiration, visit our Game Day Shop.