Slow Cooker Beef Chili

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An EASY, classic Slow Cooker Beef Chili that takes no effort at all and is a perfect winter meal your family will love! Make crockpot chili for dinner or for a game day treat!

Bowl of Slow Cooker Chili with beef and kidney beans

crockpot chili is Easy and Healthy

Slow Cooker Beef Chili is a family favorite of ours for game day party offerings. With a big crowd, the last thing I want to be doing is nursing a pot on the stove and making sure the bottom of the pot of chili doesn’t burn.

Making chili in a slow cooker is one of the easiest ways you can make it and with a low and slow cook time the meat and beans melt together into a perfectly wonderful, hearty dish.

I’m a huge fan of beef chili recipes and often eat chili as a quick and healthy meal, even with takeout like my Wendy’s Chili (Copycat). Lower in fat than most red meat dishes and with a high fiber content thanks to the beans, this Slow Cooker Chili is a hearty meal that you can enjoy even when you’re trying to eat healthily.

crockpot chili topped with sour cream and onion

Some Slow Cooker Chili tips:

  • I use kidney beans and white beans, but you can certainly use other beans as well like navy beans or black beans. I like the firmness of the skin of the kidney bean, it holds up well even in the slow cooker and the creaminess of the white beans.
  • HEAT! If you like things spicy definitely add in the jalapeno and kick up the chili powder.
  • Careful with chili powder, different varieties can have different heat levels.  This recipe uses standard supermarket chili powder.
  • Brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker, it helps for both texture and flavor.
  • I only used 1/4 cup tomato paste in this recipe, if you have leftovers you can freeze them in small ziploc bags or in ice trays so you don’t waste a whole can.
  • If you want a deeper beef flavor, add in a spoonful of beef base to the recipe too. I don’t recommend beef broth as it would thin the chili too much.
  • I use Beef Base in addition to or in place of beef stock/broth. I can double up on the intensity without waiting for beef stock to reduce to intensify flavor.

crockpot chili with scallions on top

Looking for more Slow Cooker Recipes?

PS, tomorrow I have an awesome Southern Cornbread for you to enjoy with this crockpot chili. It isn’t that normal super sweet cornbread you see in your regular grocery stores!

Tools Used in making this Slow Cooker Chili:

Slow Cooker: Love this slow cooker and how programmable it is, it has been a workhorse for me… until…
My New Slow Cooker: This recipe was made in this slow cooker. I brown the meat in the insert without losing a bunch of the flavor by transferring the meat and leaving the browned bits behind. If you’re thinking of a new slow cooker, consider it if your budget is open.
Cast Iron Skillet: If you don’t have a slow cooker with a stovetop friendly insert, this is my most used pan in my kitchen, heavy, keeps heat well and gives the BEST sear ever.



Slow Cooker Beef Chili

4.98 from 38 votes
  • Yield: 8 Servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
An EASY, classic Slow Cooker Beef Chili that takes no effort at all and is a perfect winter meal your family will love for dinner or for a game day treat!


  • 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


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Cook the beef and onion together in a large pot or cast iron skillet over medium high heat until the beef is browned well.
  2. Add it to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Cook on high heat for 3 hours or on low heat for 6 hours.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8 Servings, Amount per serving: 281 calories, Calories: 281g, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 660mg, Potassium: 760mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1155g, Vitamin C: 14.8g, Calcium: 68g, Iron: 4.8g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Slow Cooker Beef Chili
An EASY, classic Slow Cooker Beef Chili that takes no effort at all and is a perfect winter meal your family will love for dinner or for a game day treat!
RICH, HEARTY, thick beef stew with chili powder, beef, onions, tomatoes and more simmered low and slow for chili perfection!

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  1. I have three pounds of beef I want to use up and curious how much I should increase everything else. I love this recipe so much as is and I want more to freeze! Thanks!

    1. You can use the slider tool (hover over the servings) and adjust until you see the ground beef change to 3 pounds. Enjoy!

  2. I have made this several times. My biggest problem is there are no leftovers!! Everyone who has tried it absolutely loves it. Thanks for such an awesome recipe.

    1. This chili hit the spot….we all loved it. I did have to substitute Ritz crackers for the saltines because someone, (namely husband), had pigged out on the crackers I thought I had, but it was still delicious. I plan on trying a lot of your other chili recipes as well!

  3. this was the best!!!..had our meal then froze in portions for the 2 of us (love my Foodsaver)..second time from the freezer to the pot was just like fresh ty for this..huggzz

  4. Fantastic chili recipe! Love the full and robust flavor, as well as the basic simplicity…. After having made it a few times, I’ve modified it a bit…… I use 2.25 lbs. of ground beef – I insert 1 beef bouillon cube – I add a 7 oz. can of little green chilies – I omit the jalapeno pepper – I add a dash of Chili de Arbol powder – I add a pinch of ground cinnamon – I add about a cup of beer.

    I love to make and put on about 11 p.m., just before bed. It cooks all night and is ready when I wake up… I transfer to a cast iron dutch oven, stick in the fridge – then reheat when I get home for dinner that night.

  5. I love this chili, it’s amazing… but! How is this 281 calories per serving? The 2lbs of 80/20 ground beef is 288 calories per serving on it’s own. I think it’s more like 360.

    1. The nutritional info is calculated automatically by the ingredient list on my site. If you’re watching calories or anything else, it’s best to double check like you did to ensure it fits within your dietary needs. So glad you enjoy it so much!

  6. I recently moved out on my own and got a crock pot for Christmas. I decided to try your recipe for my first chili attempt. It came out great!! My parents tried it and said it was delicious and asked to take leftovers. Thanks so much for the recipe! 🙂

  7. I had to add olive oil or the meat would have stuck to pan. I added a little extra of the garlic and spices and topped with sour cream, chives, cilantro and lime juice with a few toasted crostini on the side. Perfect. Was ready in 2 hours on high heat (I didn’t use a slow cooker). Very simple and good.

    1. I like to add a scoop of beef base to deepen the beef flavor. If you want to add stock, you’ll just need to eyeball it as it’ll cause your chili to be thinner, so I usually don’t add it. My suggestion is to start with a small amount and then add on to your liking.

    1. You’ll want to make sure to use a large enough slow cooker and then you may need to add an additional 30 minutes of cook time. Enjoy!

  8. I’ve made this more times than I can count. I double the recipe (double everything except for the beef and only 1.5x the beans – mostly because that’s the max I can fit in the slow cooker) and freeze in portions for easy dinner/ lunch. I follow the recipe exact except I’ve never added the crackers. Definitely try the white kidney beans and brown the meat, as suggested. Love it! Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. Reading all the comments and I’m confused. Starting to make this now but wondering why everyone said water or beef broth I do not see this in the recipe at all. Am I missing something?

    1. You aren’t missing anything, there is no water or beef broth in my recipe. Some folks are adding beef stock concentrate (not broth) for extra beefy flavor, but it is not necessary. Hope this helps!

  10. Awesome!! Our family loves football and I have been looking for just the right chili to please everyone on a game day. This dish did not disappoint and was a hit with everyone, The beef base was a great addition and the only addition I made was to chop up a green pepper and add it mid-way through browning the ground beef with the onions. Also, my children have a thing with tomatoes and “skins” so I substituted pureed tomatoes for the diced and it still came out great. It worked out great and added a little texture and color. Thank you! This will surely be a regular go-to.

  11. I followed the recipe exactly, including using one of those little pots of Knorr beef stock pots (not water) BUT I ended up putting in only 2 tablespoons of chili powder (one mild, one hot). It was perfect for me but it was too spicy for my daughter so I ended up putting in two tablespoons of maple syrup! That’s the only tweak I made. My husband said it was the best chili he’d ever had. Great recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! And that you were able to make it milder for your daughter. 🙂 Thanks for coming back and letting me know!

    1. Sorry I didn’t see this earlier. You don’t want to add water, it will thin out the chili too much. I do not add the grease to the slow cooker.

  12. Made this today but tweaked it a little. Added a little (half cup) of beef stock disolved in water. Didn’t want to lose flavor by just adding straight water. I like a thinner chili and add crackers as I eat. Added a couple stalks of celery and a green pepper. Great recipe. I just personalized it to my taste a bit. Thanks.

  13. Good recipe. Made a few modifications.
    1) used canned tomatoes with green chilies.
    2) added about 2 cups of beef broth; 1 cup into the slow cooker at the start of cooking and another after the first hour so that the chili would not be dry.

  14. Made it this weekend and it was DELICIOUS! It’s going to be a staple around here all fall/winter. I added the beef base and the saltines definitely added a little thickness… similar to adding corn tortillas to a tortilla soup. My husband asked if I would make a batch and freeze it in individual servings for him to grab for lunches when he needs/want it… and if you knew how picky he is – you would know how big that is! Hahaha

  15. I’m obsessed with making slow cooker chili. This is my new favorite recipe. Thank you for the beef base tip / this chili is on a new level.

    1. You could adjust a few things depending on the flavors you’re going for. I suggest adding jalapeño, cayenne pepper and/or chipotle pepper for a spicier kick. For the sweet side you can add brown sugar or ketchup. You’ll want to play around with it and find the perfect combination for your taste buds. Good luck!

  16. This is my fave chili recipe. I prefer it with the extra spice but still delicious without the jalapeno, I’ve made it both ways. Awesome recipe and super easy.

  17. Perfect Beef Chili! My son can’t wait to get home from his baseball game tonight! Chili & cornbread it is!

  18. This is the best chili ive ever had. I made it with ives imitation ground beef instead and it was absolutely fantastic. I just added 1/2 teaspoon coriander.

  19. i love this recipe and have made it once before, im going to make it again tonight, my one questions is, how much is 1 serving? 1 cup? just wondering for us calorie counters. overall this is a relatively healthy meal which i love. thanks!

  20. I’ve made this a few times. First time was the exact recipe as here minus the pepper. I’ve also done it with half amount of each ingredient for a smaller pot that I can eat when it’s just me. I eat it over rice, so a small amount goes a long way. Both times I cooked on low for 6 to 7 hours.

    This time I’m doing it with 3lbs of beef and adjusted the other ingredients to match. Cooking it on high this time so that Me and my girlfriend can eat a little earlier. Also added a whole green pepper as well as a red pepper.

  21. I make this chili for me and my boyfriend All. The. Time. It’s amazing. I follow the recipe exactly but I haven’t tried adding beef base or jalapenos. I use one can of red kidney beans and 1 can of cannelini beans. The first time I made it I was worried because it looked dry, but by the end of cooking it always has the perfect amount of liquid. I’ve tried it 3 hours on high and 6 hours on low and both work just fine. Highly recommend, best chili I’ve had!

      1. What would be the cooking time if I decided to NOT brown the meat first and put it into the crock raw? I know some recipes cook the Chili that way but I don’t know what the proper cook time would be. Thanks.

        1. I would not recommend that – it will cook the beef but it will have more of a boiled texture. And you will miss the browning of the onions, so that will affect the flavor. If you decide to do it, break the beef apart small.

          It will work but again, it wouldn’t be to my taste. Let me know if you try it!

  22. I cooked this on low for about 6.5 hours a few nights ago, and it came out awesome. I went light on the chili powder and no jalapenos. Also no crackers, since my son and I like to eat chili over steamed rice (jasmine is good). We like a little more moisture to our chili. Other than that, I went by your recipe. Tasted so good that it was gone fast. I just put a pot on tonite with a little less ground beef, and used one can each of kidney and white beans. We will see how this comes out, but thank you for a great recipe!

  23. I made this last night and it was delicious, very hearty! …I definitely had to add some tomato sauce as it was very dry. I only cooked it on LOW for 3 hours, at high it was starting to stick to the bottom of the slow cooker after only 20 minutes. I would not bother adding the crushed saltines next time. If I had gone out and left it on high it would have been a disaster! A piece of garlic bread was a great addition along with shredded cheddar cheese on top!

    1. So glad you checked it when you did. I know every slow cooker is different and it sounds like yours runs hotter than mine. I’m happy you enjoyed it.

  24. This was the most delicious chili I’ve ever made. I made my own chili powder blend and added 2 minced corn tortillas at the beginning so the flavor would be infused.

    And ot came together so easily and quickly. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  25. Definitely trying out this recipe! But do you put crushed saltines in? What texture does this give the chili? I’ve never tried it before.

  26. I’m making this chili today, just wondering if I need to drain the beef after cooking it on the stove or do I just add it straight to the crock pot?

    1. This original recipe doesn’t include any beef base but I prefer to add a scoop of beef base to almost all of my stews. I just love the bold flavor that it adds. It’s up to you and your taste. Hope this helps!

  27. I’ve made this three times now and it’s been delicious but looks nothing like the pictures (it’s much lighter than the pics). I leave it on for 4 hours on high because 3 is way way too short in my cooker, and even then it seems not thick enough. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. The most immediate ideas I’d have is that I really browned my beef pretty darn well as well as my onions and my chili powder is pretty dark. I also use a tomato paste that is pretty dark in color. The biggest reason is likely the beef/onion browning. When I sear for the slow cooker I sear pretty dark because I want it to preserve some texture even given how much it will sit in the liquids. Also if it isn’t thick enough I think the culprit is the brand of tomatoes, I really do think some brands sneak in way more liquids than other brands. You can absolutely cook for longer it won’t hurt it one bit or just add a bit more saltines.

  28. It was very good! I made it with lb ground turkey and added chopped potatoes. I didn’t have tomato paste but my can of “crushed tomatoes” was basically the consistency of paste. I paired it with homemade bread and it was a hit!
    Thank you for sharing!

  29. Easy and tasty recipe! Nutritional info is way off, though. By my calculation, for those of us who care about these things, this recipe serving 8 yields about 400 calories per serving, using 85/15 beef.
    % Daily Values*Total Fat 18.28g28% Saturated Fat 6.787g34% Polyunsaturated Fat 0.695g  Monounsaturated Fat 7.83g Cholesterol 77mg26%Sodium 730mg30%Potassium 540mg Total Carbohydrate 28.37g9% Dietary Fiber 7.4g30% Sugars 5.86g Protein 29.46g  Vitamin A 232%Vitamin C 206%Calcium 73%Iron 245%

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! I use a program that automatically computes the nutritional information for me. I’ll have to double check it, thanks.

        1. It didn’t pick up a few of the ingredients but based on my nutritional information, it looks to be around 280 calories for a 1 cup serving. Enjoy!

          1. I! I’m not sure if I’ll get a response in time but worth a try: I just made this and started it in the slow cooker about 5 minutes ago. It looked really thick right from the start so I did not add the saltine crackers. Does this recipe turn liquidy enough while it’s cooking? Or will it remain this thick? Adding the crackers sounds good but it’s so thick already. I’m hoping it will have some liquid develope in it. Advice pretty please 🙂 thank you. Ps it smells yummy! Thanks for sharing this.

  30. I am preparing this chili recipe now and I don’t have can beans. I have dry beans so do I increase the liquids…add liquids ?

    1. Dry beans need to be soaked overnight before using them in a recipe so they won’t work as a last minute substitution. Sorry.

  31. This is hearty and delicious! I didn’t use jalepeno (had to keep it mild for the kiddos), and I used one can of dark red kidney beans and one can of cannellini beans. Since my husband doesn’t like tomato chunks (weirdo), I used tomato puree instead of diced. The spoonful of beef base was a great tip.

    This is the first chili dish I’ve eaten that I didn’t have to add a bunch of sour cream or cheddar cheese to. It’s excellent by itself. Thanks so much!

  32. This Chili is the best Chili in the world, I literally just got done making it and trying it for the first time, and it was AMAZING!!! I did season the ground beef with salt, pepper, and garlic salt though, gave the beef a really good flavor, so that’s all I did different from the recipe. Over-all, insanely good Chili, and easy to make to boot not to mention inexpensive. I will be recommending this till the day I die.

  33. I’m making chili for the first time ever and this recipe is by far the best I’ve come across! And the comments have helped me to add/remove as I go!! Thanks so much for sharing this with us and I will let you know how it turns out!!

  34. I made this chili for my cats quincenera party. Everyone loved it! I used ground turkey and added a chopped poblano pepper and skipped the saltines. Easy and very delicious thanks Sabrina! Love your blog!

  35. I made this precisely by the recipe but it was very bland and way too thick without any sort of added liquid. Maybe I’ll try adding some beef base and another can of tomatoes.