This recipe for The Best Crock Pot Chili gets better as it cooks low and slow in the slow cooker. Ground beef, seasonings and tons of flavor!
A DELICIOUS SIMPLE, HOMEMADE CHILI
For me, there is nothing more comforting on a cool fall day than some delicious chili and warm cornbread straight out of the oven! I actually won a chili cook-off with this recipe so I can promise you that it is one that most people love without it being too spicy or overwhelming with strong flavors. Most of us want to enjoy the flavor of the chili – not just spiciness and heat.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
I have two actually. A can of refried beans and Worcestershire sauce. The refried beans really give the chili a nice thick texture (and flavor!) and the Worcestershire adds just a tiny background flavor that people can never quite put their finger on but makes all the difference!
In general, the longer the chili gently simmers, the better and deeper the flavors get. See my question below about overcooking.
Strictly speaking, not really. You could technically put in a very lean meat in with your other ingredients and let it cook then break it up as you go or at the very end. However, I have found through lots of trial and error that it really is best to brown the meat first. It makes a difference in the overall final dish and helps to keep the chili from getting too greasy.
The refried beans in this recipe are going to help thicken it. You can also use cornmeal. Start with a tablespoon then stir for a few minutes. Continue adding cornmeal and stirring it in until you reach your desired thickness. You could also use an extra can of kidney beans or pinto beans and mush them up really well then add to the crock pot. Allow the mixture to continue to simmer for about an hour and you should see the chili start to thicken.
When you’ve cooked chili and stored it in the refrigerator overnight, then go to pull it out the next day to reheat, it always seems to taste better, right? Basically that time it is hanging out in the refrigerator is giving time for those chili flavors to really deepen without overcooking. It is creating its’ own unique flavor that you just can’t get from the chili while it is still cooking. So save those leftovers!
Absolutely! Just pop your leftovers back into the slow cooker and (depending on how quickly you need it) set it on a high or low setting for a couple of hours until warmed through.
As I stated above, chili is wonderful when stored in the refrigerator overnight. So store leftovers in a lidded container (allow the chili to cool slightly before doing this.) Chili can also be frozen. Just make sure you are storing it in an airtight container that is freezer safe.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)
- ground beef – you can also use turkey, chicken or a meat alternative (like Impossible beef) for this recipe.
- celery and onion – if you don’t like celery then you can leave it out or switch it out for a green pepper.
- chili powder and cumin – I use these as the main seasonings. You could use a pack of chili seasoning if you prefer.
- garlic – the jarred garlic is fine in this recipe.
- petite diced tomatoes – we like the smaller bits of tomato in our chili but if you like them larger, just go with the regular diced.
- tomato sauce – as with most ingredients in this recipe, if you need low or no sodium options, please use those where possible.
- dark red kidney beans – if you don’t like them then just leave them out or switch out with another canned bean.
- beef broth – I think this is what really gives it that deeper flavor but not a super strong taste.
- refried beans – these are actually going to not only add flavor but they will help thicken up the chili as well.
- Worcestershire sauce – you don’t taste this as a separate ingredient, it just adds a nice background flavor to complement the other flavors happening in the chili.
HOW TO MAKE CROCK POT CHILI
In a skillet, brown and crumble ground beef with celery, onion and garlic over medium high heat until meat is completely brown and vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. If you have a slow cooker with a sauté setting, you can do this part directly in the slow cooker. Just don’t forget to drain the grease before continuing with the rest of the recipe. Drain excess grease and pour beef mixture into a 4 quart (or larger) crock pot.
Open cans of tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans (do not rinse or drain) and refried beans, beef broth and dump those into the crock pot along with the chili powder, cumin, Worcestershire sauce then mix thoroughly.
Cover with lid and cook on low for 4-6 hours (the longer, the better.) Taste before serving and add more salt and pepper as necessary.
Serve with your favorite toppings.
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Originally published: January 2011
Updated photos & republished: October 2023
The Best Crock Pot Chili (+Video)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 ½ Tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ Tablespoon minced garlic
- 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 15 ounce can dark red kidney beans
- 15 ounce can beef broth
- 15 ounce can refried beans
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper, to taste
- shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions, green onions sour cream
- In a medium skillet, brown and crumble ground beef with celery, onion and garlic over medium high heat (until meat is completely brown and vegetables are tender.) Season with salt and pepper.
- Drain excess grease and pour beef mixture into a 4-quart or larger crock pot.
- Open cans of tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans (do not rinse or drain), refried beans, beef broth and dump those into the crock pot. Make sure you break up the refried beans a bit after putting those in the pot.
- Add chili powder, cumin, Worcestershire sauce and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and cook on low for about 4-6 hours (the longer, the better).
- Taste before serving and add more salt and pepper as necessary. Top each serving with your favorite toppings.
- Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
- This recipe can be doubled. Just make sure you have a large enough crock pot.
- If you want to spice up your chili, you can add a jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced to the pot. Or, you can just add a few shakes of hot sauce.
- Also, try adding other types of beans along with the kidney beans. Pinto beans and black beans would be great in here.
- If you like your chili even thicker, add a bit of cornmeal. Or use an extra can of kidney beans or pinto beans and mash them up really well then add to the slow cooker. Simmer for an additional hour.
- Diced green peppers can also be added to this chili if you enjoy them. Sauté them along with the ground beef, celery and onion.
“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.