Classic Slow Cooker Chili Recipe

A Comfort Food Favorite

Classic Slow Cooker Chili Recipe

The Classic Slow Cooker Chili is a quintessential comfort food, beloved for its hearty and warming qualities. Revered in kitchens across the globe, this dish stands as a testament to the simple joy of home cooking. Its popularity stems not only from its delicious taste but also from its ability to bring people together, serving as a centerpiece for family dinners, friendly gatherings, and cozy nights in. The slow cooker chili is more than just a meal; it’s a symbol of comfort, tradition, and the simple pleasures of a well-cooked, home-prepared dish.

The Basics of Slow Cooking Chili

Slow cooking is the cornerstone of creating the perfect chili. This method is crucial for flavor development, allowing spices and ingredients to meld harmoniously over time. The slow cooker, a staple in many kitchens, gently simmers the chili, infusing the dish with depth and complexity that can’t be achieved through quicker cooking methods. The benefits of using a slow cooker for chili include:

  • Enhanced Flavors: The prolonged cooking time allows for a richer, more developed taste.
  • Tender Meat: Slow cooking ensures that the ground beef in the chili becomes exceptionally tender.
  • Convenience: It offers a ‘set and forget’ approach, ideal for busy lifestyles.
  • Even Cooking: The consistent low temperature ensures that every ingredient in the pot is perfectly cooked, eliminating the risk of under or overcooking.

For more insights into the benefits of slow cooking, especially for meat dishes, visit Beef Nutrition.

Key Ingredients for Your Chili

The magic of a classic chili lies in its ingredients, each playing a pivotal role in creating the final flavor profile:

  • Ground Beef: The foundation of the dish. Lean beef (90/10 or 93/7) is preferred for its lower fat content, but richer cuts can be used for a more indulgent chili.
  • Beans: Kidney and black beans are traditional choices. They should be rinsed and drained for the best consistency. Other varieties like pinto or navy beans can also be used for different textures and flavors.
  • Tomatoes & Tomato Sauce: Canned diced tomatoes and tomato sauce form the base of the chili, providing moisture and a tangy flavor. The type of tomatoes used can vary, from fire-roasted for a smoky taste to plain for a more traditional flavor.
  • Spices: Essential spices include chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. These create the quintessential chili flavor that is both robust and comforting.
  • Optional Ingredients: For customization, consider adding corn, bell peppers, or different types of beans. Spices can also be adjusted for heat preference, and ingredients like cocoa powder or coffee can be added for depth.

Each ingredient contributes to the rich tapestry of flavors that make classic slow cooker chili a beloved dish in many households.

Understanding the health benefits and nutritional values of beans can help you appreciate this ingredient more. Check out Healthline’s article on kidney beans for more information.

Step-by-Step Cooking Process

Creating the perfect Classic Slow Cooker Chili involves a few essential steps:

  1. Preparing the Ingredients: Start by gathering all your ingredients. Measure out the spices, rinse and drain the beans, and chop any fresh vegetables you’re using.
  2. Browning the Beef and Sautéing Onions: In a skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat until it’s no longer pink, ensuring it’s crumbled for even cooking. Add chopped onions to the skillet and sauté until they’re translucent and fragrant.
  3. Combining Ingredients in the Slow Cooker: Transfer the browned beef and onions to the slow cooker. Add the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and all your spices. Stir everything together to ensure the ingredients are well mixed.
  4. Cooking Times and Temperatures: Cook the chili on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. This slow cooking process allows the flavors to develop fully and the beef to become tender.

Serving Suggestions

The beauty of chili is in its versatility when it comes to serving. Here are some popular options:

  • Toppings: Enhance your chili with shredded cheese, diced onions, sliced avocado, sour cream, or chopped cilantro.
  • Side Dishes: Serve your chili with a side of warm cornbread, over rice, or alongside a crisp green salad. For a heartier meal, spoon it over baked potatoes.


  • Can I make this chili spicy? Absolutely! Increase the chili powder or add chopped jalapeños or cayenne pepper for extra heat.
  • Can I use different types of meat? Yes, ground turkey, chicken, or pork are great alternatives to beef.
  • How long can I store the chili? Properly stored in the refrigerator, the chili will last for 3-4 days.
  • Can I freeze slow cooker chili? Yes, it freezes well. Cool the chili completely and store it in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months.
  • Tips for the perfect chili consistency? If your chili is too thick, add a bit more broth. If it’s too thin, let it cook with the lid off for the last 30 minutes to reduce.

Nutritional Information

This Classic Slow Cooker Chili is not just delicious but also nutritious. It’s rich in protein from the beef and beans, high in fiber, and contains essential vitamins and minerals. It’s a wholesome meal that’s both satisfying and beneficial for your health.


In conclusion, the Classic Slow Cooker Chili is a timeless dish that combines ease of preparation with deep, comforting flavors. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner, this recipe is sure to yield delicious results. Remember, the key to great chili is patience and quality ingredients. So, gather your ingredients, set your slow cooker, and get ready to enjoy a bowl of hearty, flavorful chili that’s perfect for any occasion. Give this recipe a try and experience the joy of a homemade meal that’s both satisfying and nourishing.

Classic Slow Cooker Chili

Classic Slow Cooker Chili Recipe

This Classic Slow Cooker Chili is a hearty, comforting dish perfect for any season. It combines lean ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and a blend of spices, all simmered to perfection in a slow cooker. It's easy to make and customizable to suit various tastes.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people
Calories 400 kcal


  • Large skillet
  • Slow cooker (6-quart size recommended)


  • 2 lbs ground beef lean preferred
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cans 15 oz each kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can 15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans 14.5 oz each diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder adjust to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or cayenne pepper for extra heat


  • Brown the Beef: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until browned. Drain excess fat.
  • Sauté Onions and Garlic: In the same skillet, add the diced onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Combine in Slow Cooker: Transfer the cooked beef and onion mixture to the slow cooker. Add the kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and optional spices. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Slow Cook: Stir all the ingredients together until well combined. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Serve and Enjoy: Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with your favorite toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions, or avocado slices.


  • Spice Level: Adjust the amount of chili powder and cayenne pepper to suit your taste.
  • Meat Alternatives: Can be made with ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version.
  • Vegetarian Option: Omit the meat and add extra beans or vegetables like bell peppers and corn.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Reheat on the stove over medium heat or in the microwave, stirring occasionally.
Keyword Classic Slow Cooker Chili Recipe

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Karen Elliot

Written by Karen Elliot

Hi, I'm Karen Elliot is a food blogger who founded to make cooking easier. Growing up on a farm in Spain, Karen was inspired by exquisite dishes prepared using simple ingredients. Karen Elliot is particularly known for making anyone can cook.


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  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this Slow Cooker chili recipe it’s excellent I did drain most of the liquid from the tomatoes because I like my chili more thick than saucy but that’s the only tweak its delicious and will be my go to recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    This is not just the best chili I’ve made it is the best chili I’ve ever had! On my first try making chili! I’m going to make it today again. Thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    The consistency of the chili was perfect for eating from a bowl and mopping up juices with your crusty bread. I will definitely make this again. Since I didn’t have tomatoes with green chilies I added a can of pork and beans with a dash of red pepper flakes but it is your recipe that makes this the best chili recipe for family and friends.

  4. 5 stars
    This was the best chili I ever had and so easy! My family loved it!! The only thing I did differently was use two packets of chili mix from Publix instead of putting in the seasonings!

  5. 5 stars
    This is my absolute favorite chili. I’ve made it multiple times and every time it comes out better and better. I do I have one question, each serving size is 340 calories, what is the measurement of one serving size?

  6. 5 stars
    made the slow cooker chili recipe and as usual, it was fantastic. Halved the recipe, seeing it’s only me and my husband, and there was still plenty

  7. 5 stars
    This has now become my go to chili recipe! Every recipe of yours that I’ve made has been absolutely delicious…
    Thank you,

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