Crock Pot Chili and Beans is an easy, hearty stew that will warm and fill you up on those chilly nights. The crock pot does almost all of the work, making this a great weeknight meal.
Update: This recipe was originally posted in October 2012. The recipe and photos have been improved for reader enjoyment as October 2020.
I've always found it amusing that a hot food is called chili (chilly), but that's because the recipe comes from chile con carne which is a stew made of meat, tomatoes and chili peppers.
Did you know that chili is one recipe that completely varies in ingredients depending on where you are eating it? Many states have their own versions and for those states that hold chili cookoffs, there are even rules about what constitutes as chili and what's a knockoff!
🥘 Ingredients for this recipe
- ground beef - 1 ½ to 2 pounds and a lean version, otherwise you'll end up with greasy chili
- kidney beans - light or dark red kidney beans go great in chili
- diced tomatoes - for this recipe I used a combination of homemade and canned. You can use whatever you have on hand. I like using a jar of Rotel because it adds in more flavor.
- tomato sauce - 15 oz is what I use for the recipe, but for a thicker chili, use an 8 oz can
- onion - medium diced
- jalapeno - seeded or not, your choice. (I don't seed jalapenos when I'm cooking them in the crock pot)
- Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano - when cooking in a crock pot, flavors can get lost, that's why I use a variety of spices and a decent quantity of them. If this were a stovetop recipe, I wouldn't go this heavy on spices.
- salt and pepper - you can never take salt out of a recipe, so this is the only ingredient I go light on until the chili has fully cooked and I can do a taste test.
- optional toppings: cheddar cheese, pickled jalapenos, sour cream
🔪Instructions for this recipe
- Cook the ground beef. Add ground beef to a skillet and crumble, cooking until browned. Drain fat and set aside. (See image below for my draining grease from meat tip!)
- Add ingredients to the slow cooker. Combine kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, jalapeno and spices to the slow cooker. Add in the ground beef and stir to combine.
- Cook the chili. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Eat! Divide into bowls and add optional toppings.
FAQ's about crock pot chili
- Can you put raw meat into a crock pot? You totally can! In this recipe, I brown the ground beef on the stove first. But if you use a lean ground beef, you can add it directly to the crock pot.
- Can I cook chili in a crock pot overnight? Yes. Chili should cook for at least 8 hours and the flavor only increases the longer it cooks.
- How long can cooked chili sit in a crock pot on warm? Two hours is best practice. After that, you'll want to transfer it to a container in the fridge.
- What's a secret ingredient in chili? Some people add in cornmeal to thicken up their chili. Ohers add honey for sweetness or cinnamon and chocolate to really enhance the flavors.
- Do you drain the canned kidney beans? Personal choice. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
Serving Suggestions for crock pot chili and beans
- buttered saltine crackers - how I had chili as a kid
- mix in cooked macaroni pasta and shredded cheddar for a play on chili mac
- serve over spaghetti noodles to be Cincinnati-style
- garden salad, roasted broccoli or other green veggies
This recipe can also be made with ground turkey. If you prefer a turkey chili, check out my spicy two-bean turkey chili recipe.
- Ground beef can be replaced with ground turkey
- Add in more veggies like bell peppers or green chiles
- Switch up the spices: replace the cayenne with paprika or skip it all together. Add in some cinnamon or chocolate!
- Skip the beans or add in more
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Crock Pot Chili and Beans
- crock pot, 6 quart or larger
- 1 ½ lbs ground beef lean
- 2 15 oz kidney beans canned
- 2 15 oz diced tomatoes canned
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1 whole jalapeno diced (seeded or not)
- 3 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon oregano dried
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- Add kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, jalapeno and spices to a crock pot (optional: use a slow cooker liner).
- Add ground beef to a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook, crumbling, until browned.
- Drain grease from meat and transfer meat into the crock pot. Stir ingredients until combined.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Top with shredded cheese and pickled jalapenos.