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.


Save Recipe

Slow Cooker Beef Chili

  • Yield: 8 Servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina
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: 23.1g, Vitamin C: 17.9g, Calcium: 6.8g, Iron: 26.9g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Slow Cooker Beef Chili
Save Recipe
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’d love to try that slow cooker chili, it looks awful delisoush? And when i was a little girl my mom used to make chili every weekend? What size slow cooker did you cook your chili in? I have a 5 or 6 qt. pot? I love to have all of your recipes to try if possible, because i love to cook?

    1. I used a 6 qt slow cooker for this recipe. There’s a link you can click on above in the “Tools Used” section to see the exact one I used. I absolutely love it!

        1. It would depend on whether your one setting is considered high or low. I would suggest looking at the manual or researching it online to see what temp it gets up too and decide whether it’s considered low or high. Hope this helps!

    1. Same time should work. With chili its all just about the flavors coming together. I’d do 1 1/2 times the liquid to be on the safe side, you can always add more later if you see it is drying out.

    1. I didn’t mean to confuse you, so sorry. I just meant that I like to add a scoop of the base to intensify the flavor. No need to make broth or add any liquid to this recipe.

  2. I never cooked chili before and I have a chili contest on Sunday at my church and I signed up to be in th contest because I want to make something I never made before , I love to cook and I’m up for a nice challenge . No water needed , the liquid come from all the sauce correct? Will that be enough for a big crowd or should I double the ingredients? If I do double it does the cooking time doubles as well ? I want to cook it overnight on low heat so the flavors is nice and tasty . For a first time cooking this what do you recommend? Thanks , any tips and advice helps i really want to win this contest and be proud I made a delicious chili using your recipe but without the jalapeños because I don’t like spicy food ?

    1. I’m honored that you’d use my recipe for the contest!! To answer your questions….you are correct, there isn’t any water need for this recipe 🙂 Also, I think that this recipe should be enough for the contest considering most people will just have a taste and aren’t getting a full bowl. If you do decide to double it, I would suggest making it in two slow cookers as I’m not sure double the ingredients would fit into one slow cooker. Good luck!!

  3. Going to make this for Super Bowl!! Sounds yummy. Do you actually include saltines in pot for cook time? Or are they used for top of chili when you serve it?
    Thank you

    1. Sorry I don’t have the nutritional facts for recipes on the site but I know there are a lot of free resources on the internet from when I’ve cooked for clients with low calorie diets.

  4. It says 8 servings. Approximately how much in each serving serving? I’m making this for a football game on Sunday and want to make sure there is enough for everyone! Would a double batch of this fit in a 6qt cooker?

    1. 1 serving size is approximately 1 cup. I’m not sure if a double batch would fit in a 6qt so I would recommend using 2 slow cookers to be sure.

  5. I’m making this today for the very first time. I’m also making homemade cornbread and cinnamon rolls to go with it. My family is very excited to try this.

    1. No broth is needed for this recipe. I like to add a spoonful of beef base to intensify the flavor without thinning out the chili with too much liquid from broth/stock. Hope this clears up any confusion.

    1. I just tossed the garlic in with the other ingredients into the slow cooker but you can cook it with the onion and beef if you prefer. I hope you enjoy it!

  6. Waaaaay too much chili powder. My boyfriend and I could not eat any of it because there was so much in it. 3 tablespoons was definitely too much

  7. My family doesn’t like tomatoes in chili, would this recipe work without tomatoes? Should I substitute some tomatoe sauce?

        1. I clearly needed more coffee before commenting. You’re right, everything gets added in in the beginning. Thanks for catching that!

  8. First off, I didn’t follow the recipe verbatim – but there’s good reason. I didn’t realise that my crockpot was far too small for this – so I wound up making it on the stove in a dutch oven. I also omitted the saltines and added half a bottle of beer.

    I made this the night before having company over. Simmered it for an hour on the stove then let it cool before putting it away. I reheated it in a smaller pot before eating and I’m firmly convinced that this is one of those dishes where the flavours develop the longer you let it sit.

    My boyfriend loved it so much that as he was eating the last bowl of it, he asked me to make another batch. Highly recommend.

  9. Made this tonight. It was fantastic!! We made 6 bowls and we have two large Tupperware containers completely full. I was nervous in the beginning about not adding any liquid other than the juice of the tomato can. But in the end there was a good amount of liquid. Can’t wait to make this again!

  10. This was way, way, WAY too much garlic for my taste. The recipe is great, and fairly simplistic, but I think it would be much better with 1/2 garlic clove.

  11. Is the only liquid from the canned tomatoes? Mines in the crock pot right now and there’s very little liquid to it. What could I add? I don’t want it soupy, but it doesn’t look much like chili right now. 🙁

      1. I’m excited to make this for Super Bowl Sunday…would that be 28 oz cans if you’re using both types beans? – one kidney and one white beans?

        1. So sorry I missed your question, it got caught in my spam filter. You’ll want to use 28-32oz worth of beans, whatever combination you’d like to use. Hope you enjoyed it!

  12. Way too much ground beef (2 lbs.) and 2 cans of kidney beans for one 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes in the crock pot. So glad I bought 2 28 oz. cans of the tomatoes because there just wasn’t enough liquid for all the beef and beans. I also had to increase the garlic and spices for the recipe. The saltine crackers were pointless and I should have used my better judgement and not bought a box of them that we will never eat. For anyone making this recipe- 1/2 cup of the crackers is approximately 15-I used my food processor to finely grind them. I suggest you don’t bother-they didn’t add anything to the recipe. If I made this recipe again-I would use 1 lb. ground beef instead of two. =

    1. The crackers weren’t supposed to go in the recipe but just on top. I was confused about this too. Can the original recipe write make that more clear in the instructions please?

      1. Sorry about the confusion. To be clear, ALL of the ingredients go into the slow cooker. You can use more crackers at the end for a garnish (completely optional).

  13. Just wanted to let you know that I used this recipe for a chili cook off for a church function and won first place! I followed the recipe to a T including adding a spoonful of beef base. I didn’t add the jalapeño though. Thank you!

  14. Delicious chili!! Made half the receipe in my 2 1/2 qt slow cooker. I used crushed tomatoes and added a dash of chipotle chili pepper, cumin and ancho chili pepper to the receipe. Also, jalapeño pinto beans instead of red beans. Cream of corn and cheddar cheese cornbread was also a hit!!!

  15. I’ve made this twice now, and it’s been such a hit!! I didn’t use any saltine crackers, and the chili still had great consistency! Thank you for sharing! (Ps. I added the white beans, and it was yummy!)

  16. I’m making this recipe right now and I used a bag of kidney beans and it seems as though it’s drying out . What can I use ?

  17. I just make this an house ago i cut the recipe in half. It smelled so good I had to try it before it was done. OMG amazing! This will be my go to from here on out! Thank you so much for sharing! Can’t wait for the family to get home and dig in

  18. Delicious. I made this yesterday. My husband even enjoyed it. He’s not a big fan of kidney beans either. So I just used 1 can. Everyone that came by enjoyed it too. I found that adding the vinegar, after cooked, really gave it a nice bite. Thanks. ?

  19. Daaamn. I’m always a little hesitant of following blog based recipes bc a lot of the comments and reviews are based off of the photos and the theoretical taste of the food. I just made it and it was sooooo goood. Perfect flavor and heat. Thank you!

  20. Not bad but not brilliant. Felt it was too dry and needs more liquid. To make it tastier add 200ml of beef stock. An extra onion Diced red pepper and diced mushrooms and a tin of white beans.

  21. Hi, did u add the crackers into the slow cooker or is that for after when being served? It said add all ingredients to crock pot so I just wanna make sure, never heard of this but it may be the secret I’ve been looking for… haha!

    1. I added them to the mixture. It helps to give it a good thickness, slow cooker recipes have a tendency to be watery. I also have a new non slow cooker chili recipe on the blog if you’re looking for a classic non cracker recipe. 🙂

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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!!

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

    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!

  31. 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?