An EASY, classic Slow Cooker Beef Chili that takes no effort and makes a perfect meal the family will love. Perfect for dinner or game day!
Slow Cooker Recipes make for easy dinners on busy, cold days. A hearty meal like the similar Slow Cooker Beef Stew, the incredible Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken, or the Ultimate Slow Cooker Pot Roast will warm up the entire family.
As the weather cools, there’s nothing more comforting than a steaming bowl of chili. It’s a hearty dish that can be customized in countless ways and is perfect for cozy evenings at home or large gatherings. Slow Cooker Beef Chili is a recipe that stands out for its deep flavors and ease of preparation. The combination of lean ground beef, onions, and a blend of spices in a tomato sauce creates a rich base for this hearty dish. A variety of beans and diced tomatoes add texture and layers of flavor, making each bite a delight. The unique addition of saltine cracker crumbs helps thicken the chili, resulting in a perfectly hearty consistency.
Another major plus for this recipe is how easy it is to make! Using a slow cooker means that after an initial sauté of the beef and onions, the remaining ingredients can be added and left to cook without the need for constant supervision. This makes it a great dish for those busy days when you want a delicious meal but don’t have the time to spend hours in the kitchen.
This recipe’s origins can be traced back to the Tex-Mex tradition, where chili is a staple dish. However, this version has been adapted for the slow cooker, making it a perfect blend of tradition and convenience. Whether it’s a casual weekend dinner or a crowd-pleasing dish for a game-day get-together, this Slow Cooker Chili is sure to impress. Serve with corn chips or homemade Skillet Cornbread for a filling meal fit for royalty!
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Chili
There’s something incredibly satisfying about making your own chili at home, and this Slow Cooker Chili recipe with a short prep time makes it easier than ever. Check it out!
- Step One: Start by cooking the beef and onion together in a large pot or Cast Iron Skillet over medium-high heat until the beef is well browned.
- Step Two: Transfer the beef mixture and onion to your slow cooker, adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Step Three: Set your slow cooker to high heat for 3 hours or on low heat for 6 hours. Let the slow cooker do its magic!
- Step Four: Once the cooking time is up, give everything a good stir to combine. Your comforting and delicious Slow Cooker Chili is ready to serve! Top with green onions and sour cream!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, browning the beef adds depth of flavor to the chili. It also allows you to drain off any excess fat before adding the beef to the slow cooker.
Absolutely, you can substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef if you prefer. Keep in mind that these meats have a milder flavor than beef.
Yes, you can substitute the beef with a plant-based meat substitute or add extra beans for a vegetarian version.
If you don’t have saltine cracker crumbs, you can substitute with bread crumbs or crushed tortilla chips.
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Key Ingredients in Slow Cooker Beef Chili
Creating this Slow Cooker Chili is straightforward, and the ingredients are simple, but each plays a vital role in building flavor. Here’s a rundown:
- Ground Beef: The protein base of the chili. Opt for lean ground beef to avoid excess fat. However, you can substitute with ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version.
- Onion and Garlic: These aromatics form the flavor foundation of the chili. Don’t skip these; they add a depth of flavor that can’t be replicated. The 3 cloves garlic are really healthy too!
- Red Kidney Beans: They add texture and are a great source of protein and fiber. Feel free to experiment with other beans such as black beans or pinto beans.
- Diced Tomatoes: These add a tangy sweetness that balances the heat of the chili. If you prefer a less tomato-heavy chili, you can reduce the quantity or use fresh tomatoes instead.
- Chili Powder, Cumin, and Jalapeno: These spices bring heat and complexity to the chili. Adjust the quantities to suit your taste for spiciness.
- Saltine Cracker Crumbs: An unusual ingredient, but they help thicken the chili to the perfect consistency. Substitute with bread crumbs if necessary.
Stovetop Slow Cooker Beef Chili
While the slow cooker method is convenient and helps develop deep flavors, you can also make this chili on the stovetop. Follow the same process of browning the beef and onions, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer the chili on low or medium heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally making sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Can Slow Cooker Beef Chili Be Made Ahead of Time?
Absolutely! Chili is a dish that tastes even better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld together. Make sure to let it cool down before storing it in the fridge. Reheat it on the stove over low heat, adding a splash of water if it’s too thick.
Substitutions in Slow Cooker Beef Chili
- Ground Beef: For a lighter version, substitute ground turkey or chicken. For a vegetarian version, use a plant-based meat substitute or add extra beans.
- Red Kidney Beans: Feel free to use black beans, pinto beans, or a combination of your favorite beans.
- Saltine Cracker Crumbs: If unavailable, bread crumbs or crushed tortilla chips work well as a thickening agent.
Variations on Slow Cooker Beef Chili
This Slow Cooker Chili recipe is versatile and can be adapted to suit your taste. Here are a few variations to consider:
- Spicy Slow Cooker Chili: Add extra jalapenos or a dash of hot sauce for a spicy chili with an extra kick.
- Vegetarian Slow Cooker Chili: Replace the ground beef with a plant-based meat substitute or add extra beans and veggies, like green bell pepper and baked potatoes.
- Three-Bean Slow Cooker Chili: Use a combination of kidney beans, black beans, and white beans (like pinto beans) for a variety of textures and flavors. Bean chili is a delicious crockpot chili!
How to Serve Slow Cooker Beef Chili
Slow Cooker Beef Chili pairs well with a variety of sides. Consider serving it with a side of Skillet Cornbread to balance out the heat, a fresh green salad for some lightness, or over a bed of rice for an extra-filling meal. Top with shredded cheese If you’re in the mood for a fun dessert, why not try this Sheet Pan Apple Crisp recipe?
PS, you’ll also want to try this awesome Southern Cornbread to enjoy with this crockpot chili. It isn’t that normal super sweet cornbread you see in your regular grocery stores!
How to Store Slow Cooker Beef Chili
- Serve: This chili can be safely left out at room temperature for up to two hours before it needs to be refrigerated.
- Store: Once cooled, store your leftover chili in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove over medium heat, adding a splash of beef broth or water if needed.
- Freeze: This chili freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stovetop.
- 2 pounds lean ground beef , 80/20
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 16-ounce cans red kidney beans , rinsed and drained
- 29 ounces canned diced tomatoes , not drained
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 minced jalapeno , optional (if you want it spicy)
- 1/2 cup saltine cracker crumbs , finely ground
- Cook the beef and onion together in a large pot or cast iron skillet over medium high heat until the beef is browned well.
- Add it to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients.
- Cook on high heat for 3 hours or on low heat for 6 hours.
Photos used in a previous version of this post.