This simple ground beef chili recipe is full of delicious hearty flavor and just a little spice.
The perfect chili for a chilly night. This chili is so easy to make and uses basic everyday ingredients. Ground beef, green peppers, and onions are quickly sauteed and then dumped into the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Set the temperature to low and walk away for 6 to 8 hours. That’s it.
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This is the best chili I have ever eaten. Everyone I have served it to has asked for the recipe. When I give it to them they can’t believe how simple this chili is.
Is it better to slow cook chili?
I prefer slow-cooked chili. I think the extra time gives the flavors time to meld. Also by cooking the chili in a slow cooker I don’t have to babysit it like I would on the stovetop.
Do you need to make chili for a crowd?
This recipe also scales really well. Last fall we made two huge roasting pans full of chili to serve at our son’s baptism. Feel free to double, triple, or even quadruple this recipe. The only limit is the size of your cooking vessel.
This easy crockpot chili has just a few main ingredients along with plenty of herbs and spices.
Ground Beef or Turkey
This chili tastes great with either ground beef or if you want to reduce the calories ground turkey. There are so many herbs and spices that I usually can’t tell the difference.
In this recipe, I use canned beans to keep it as simple as possible. But feel free to soak a bag of dry beans and use them instead. You can also try different varieties of beans like black or pinto beans.
If you have never cooked with dry beans before, check out this video from Everyday Food.
I like to use fire-roasted diced tomatoes to add a little extra flavor. Adding tomato paste also adds a rich concentrated tomato flavor.
If you have fresh tomatoes, you can substitute 2 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes for each 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes.
Chili is a great way to sneak in a few extra vegetables. Typically I add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. But you could also try adding whatever you have in your fridge like zucchini or mushrooms.
If you do add additional veggies that have a higher water content your chili will naturally have a little bit more liquid so you might want to precook them or leave the lid off the slow cooker for the last bit of cooking.
Using multiple spices gives this chili a nice depth of flavor. For heat, I use not just chili powder but cayenne pepper and paprika too. This recipe also calls for lots of cumin which I believe gives it that quintessential chili flavor.
- Saute Pan: My cast iron skillet is always sitting on my stovetop so it is usually my go to.
- Slow Cooker, Dutch Oven, or Roaster: Most of the time I make this chili in my 6-quart slow cooker. But you could also use an enameled cast iron dutch oven on the stovetop. If I am making chili for a large group I will cook it in this roaster.
Brown the ground beef or turkey in a large skillet over medium heat until it is mostly cooked through.
Add the onion and bell pepper. Saute until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds.
Drain the grease and pour the beef mixture into a 6-quart crockpot. Add the kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, cumin, chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
How long to cook chili in a slow cooker?
Cover the chili with the lid and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Toppings to try
Set up your own chili bar by providing little bowls of a variety of toppings so that everyone can customize their chili. Toppings usually vary based upon what I have in the fridge but here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Shredded Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Saltine Crackers or Oyster Crackers
- Corn Chips or Tortilla Chips
- Diced Avocado or Guacamole
- Raw Onion
- Sliced Green Onions
- Fresh Cilantro
- Hot Sauce
Serve over pasta to make chili mac or cook some hot dogs and make chili dogs. You can also ladle chili over tortilla chips and top with cheese to make amazing nachos.
This chili also makes a great topping for a baked potato, french fries or macaroni and cheese.
My family’s favorite way to eat chili is alongside peanut butter and jelly sandwichs.
- Don’t skip sauteing the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauteing adds a nice caramelized flavor and makes sure you don’t end up with crunchy vegetables in your chili.
- You can substitute ground turkey for the ground beef to reduce the calories. I have even used leftover shredded pork, which created some really yummy results.
- Cooking the chili low and slow gives all of the different flavors time to develop. I have left this chili to cook in the slow cooker for as long as 10 hours on low and it tasted great!
- Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving. Individual tastes will vary. This crockpot chili might need a bit more heat or salt to make it your perfect chili. Start with the minimum amounts listed in the recipe and add additional seasonings to your desired preference at the end of the cooking time.
- This chili is only a little spicy which makes it a crowd-pleaser. When I serve the chili I like to offer a couple of different hot sauces for people who like their chili spicier.
Can I put raw meat in the crockpot?
I don’t recommend adding raw meat to a crockpot for three reasons.
- There are some safety concerns when cooking raw meat. If the meat is not brought up to the proper temperature quickly enough there is the potential for bacterial growth.
- Browning meat in a skillet helps to develop flavor. Browning meat creates a delicious caramelization known as the Maillard reaction, which happens as the heat caramelizes the sugars in the meat.
- I prefer to drain some of the grease after cooking hamburger. The chili would be too greasy if the raw hamburger was cooked along with the other ingredients.
Can I make this chili on the stovetop?
Yes! If you don’t have a slow cooker this chili can also be made on the stovetop. After you have browned the beef and cooked the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 2-3 hours over low heat. Stirring occasionally.
How to freeze
This easy slow cooker chili freezes and reheats really well. I usually have a bag or two in my freezer for a quick and easy emergency dinner.
Chili will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Pour the completely cooled chili into a zip-top bag.
- Label the bag with the contents and date.
- Lay the bag flat in the freezer to freeze.
- Thaw the chili overnight in the refrigerator.
- Reheat in a pot over medium heat.
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