The Best Slow Cooker Chili

Yesterday is was breezy and some high clouds rolled by in the afternoon and for a minute it finally felt like fall. So I was grateful I had put chili in the slow-cooker for dinner earlier in the day! I tweak this recipe all the time depending on what’s in my pantry and how spicy I’m feeling at the moment.;) But it turns out great every time, and it could not be easier.


1 lb (-ish) of ground beef or turkey (OR you can cook up 1/2 cup of quinoa and add the last hour of cooking for a protein packed vegetarian option)

2 cans red kidney beans (light, dark, doesn’t matter), drained & rinsed

2 cans tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes (if you like your chili on the spicy side, use a can of Rotel instead)

1/2 of a yellow onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground paprika

2 tbs sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup of liquid (broth, stock, or water)


In a medium sized skillet, brown and crumble your ground meat. While that’s cooking, chop your onion and garlic, then add it to the pan and continue cooking until meat is cooked through and onions are a little translucent (5 min tops).


**This step can be done in advance, days before even. You can use leftover cooked ground beef that you’ve frozen and defrosted also (see my taco recipe here). Pour all the contents of your skillet into the bottom of your slow cooker.


Drain your beans and tomatoes and dump them in on top of your meat mixture. Then pour in your cans of tomato sauce. Add your seasoning and stir together. Pour in your liquid to the consistency you want, remember it will thicken up a little as it cooks. (Think thinner than a stew, thicker than soup…)

Set your slow cooker to LOW for 4-6 hours. Really the longer it cooks the better it tastes. Make sure to do a taste test at some point to make sure you don’t want to add more chili powder or salt. Serve with all your favorite toppings, we like cheese, sour cream & green onion. Use the leftovers on baked potatoes, in omelettes, on nachos…the possibilities are endless.


**A note about adding the sugar: The reason for the sugar is it helps counter the acidity of the tomatoes and get rid of the “canned” taste of tomatoes. If you are trying to avoid sugar, you can use a substitute like stevia.

**Make this meal vegetarian by adding quinoa instead of meat and using vegetable broth instead of beef or chicken broth.

Now you could have chili without cornbread, but that’s just silly. And I love any excuse to pull out my great grandma’s iron skillet and recipe to make corn bread. Tattered and food stained recipe cards are the best kind of recipes so I’ll just leave this for you here:


The only thing I change about this recipe is I use 1 cup flour (instead of 1/2) and I add an extra tbs of sugar. Oh and the “cornmeal measurement off box” is 1 cup… As a side note I also very lightly coat the bottom of my skillet with cooking oil and sprinkle with cornmeal so my cornbread has a nice cornmeal crust.:) (this also helps it not stick to the pan as much) You will notice there’s no baking time written down, that’s because my great-grandma used her nose, not a timer. I set my timer for 30 minutes, but my nose usually has me checking on it at about 25 min. It’s done as soon as a tooth pick comes out clean in the center. (don’t over-bake, or it will stick to the pan and be too dry)


I wish you many cloudy, chilly, yummy days ahead this fall! I stocked up on canned pumpkin today so I’ll let you guess what my next recipe post will be… 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s