This slow cooker beef chili is easy as can be to make, satisfying beyond words to taste. All you do is dump the familiar chili ingredients in a crockpot. And just like that, dinner is done.
This slow cooker beef chili is a lifesaver on hectic weeknights as well as when it’s your turn to feed a crowd, whether you need something for after soccer practice or that school potluck tonight that your second grader forgot to mention until this morning. No slow cooker? No problem. This chili turns out just as tasty when made on the stovetop—you’ll find those instructions in the variation just beneath the recipe.–Angie Zoobkoff
Slow Cooker Beef Chili Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 5 H, 20 M
- Serves 6 to 8
- For the slow cooker beef chili
- 2 pounds (908 grams) lean ground beef (preferably 93%)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (17 grams) tomato paste
- 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion or 130 grams)
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium pepper or 120 grams)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon or 15 grams)
- 1 cup (237 ml) water
- Two 15-ounce (425-gram) cans no-salt-added beans, whether black, pinto, kidney, white, or chickpeas, rinsed and drained (the author suggests 1 can black beans and 1 can chickpeas)
- One 10-ounce (283-gram) can diced tomatoes, preferably with mild green chiles, undrained
- One 8-ounce (227-gram) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons (4 grams) ground cumin
- 1 to 3 teaspoons (3 to 9 grams) chile powder
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) sweet paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon (2 grams) garlic powder
- 2 bay leaves
- For the cilantro sour cream
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) sour cream (the author recommends light but we say go full-fat)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Squeeze fresh lime (optional)
- For the slow cooker beef chili toppings
- 1/2 cup (57 grams) grated sharp Cheddar cheese (the author recommends lowered-fat Cheddar but we say go full-fat)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (about 30 grams)
- Crushed tortilla chips (optional)
- Make the slow cooker beef chili
- 1. Place a large deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, salt, and pepper to taste. (If you’re using beans and tomato sauce that are canned with salt, you may wish to reduce the amount of salt to 3/4 teaspoon.) Cook, using a wooden spoon to crumble the meat as it cooks, until no trace of pink remains, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain all the liquid from the pan and discard. (But don’t pour it down the drain! You definitely want to let it cool and then toss it in the trash.) Add the tomato paste, onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes.
- 2. Transfer the beef mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the water, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 7 to 9 hours.
- Make the cilantro sour cream
- 3. Combine the sour cream, cilantro, and cumin in a small bowl and, if desired, add a few drops freshly squeezed lime. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Serve the slow cooker beef chili
- 4. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste the chili and adjust seasoning to taste, adding more chili powder, salt, and pepper if desired. Ladle the chili into individual bowls and let each guest help herself or himself to a dollop of the sour cream mixture and some cheese, red onion, and, if desired, tortilla chips.
Stovetop Beef Chili Variation
- To make this slow cooker beef chili on the stovetop, in step 2, leave the beef in the pan and add the water, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium low, cover, and gently simmer for about 1 hour. Continue with step 3.