(The Best) Slow Cooker Chili

(The Best) Slow Cooker Chili

Can you believe I spent the first 28 years of my life thinking I didn’t like chili? I had tried it multiple times, every time not really enjoying it and wondering what all of the hype was about. That was until my dear partner made a batch for himself. I took one curious bite and was blown away! So what was the difference between all of the other chilies and this magical one? Brown sugar and cocoa powder! I kid you not, those two ingredients make all of the difference. They add a touch of sweetness and depth that balance the other robust flavors. After some tweeks and experiments, we’ve come up with what I truly believe to be The Best Slow Cooker Chili.

  • Servings-12 cups
  • Total Time-8 hours
Chili- Must Love GArlic
Slow Cooker Chili

Slow Cooker Chili Ingredients:

  • Ground Beef– we’ve found that a fat ratio of 80/20 has the best flavor, but a leaner ground beef can also be used.
  • Red Onion– diced
  • Garlic– minced
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes
  • Canned Tomato Sauce– this is different than marinara. Tomato sauce generally comes in a can and can be found with the diced tomatoes and paste. It’s essentially a puree of cooked down tomatoes.
  • Tomato Paste
  • Jalapenos– jarred or fresh.
  • Beef Broth– beef broth adds to the strong robust flavor of the chili.
  • Spices– chili powder, ground cumin, sweet paprika, and ground coriander.
  • Brown Sugar– this is a must when making chili! It adds a sweetness that really balances the flavor.
  • Cocoa Powder– cocoa powder is the star of this show. It adds depth and complexity to your chili that will keep you coming back for more.
  • Canned Light and Dark Kidney Beans– kidney beans are hearty and firm, which means they stand up well when cooked into a chili. If you are unable to find kidney beans, go for any other firmer bean such as black bean or pinto.

Topping Suggestions:

  • Fritos– or any kind of corn chips. The salty crunch is a must.
  • Sour Cream– we love the contrast of the cold sour cream to the warm crock pot chili.
  • Shredded Cheese- our favorite is sharp cheddar!
  • Chives
Slow cooker chili plated in gray bowl with friots, shredded cheese, and sour cream.
Slow Cooker Chili

Equipment Needed:

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How to Make Slow Cooker Chili:

  • Brown Meat– In a frying pan, heat a touch of neutral cooking oil . Add ground beef and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook ground beef, breaking up with a spatula until gently browned and crumbled.
  • Set It & Forget It– Add ground beef along with remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Give it all a good stir and set it to cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  • Plate & Serve– Scoop out a generous portion of your homemade chili into a bowl. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, fritos, and chives.

Slow-Cooker Chili Leftovers:

  • Store– leftover chili will last in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days when properly stored in an airtight container. Chili can be frozen for up to 3 months. If freezing, allow chili to cool completely before adding to chosen freezer safe container (freezer bags for the win!) If using a freezer bag, press air out and flatten before placing long side down into the freezer.
  • Reheat- chili can be reheated on the stove top in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir and simmer until warmed through. If reheating frozen chili, allow to thaw before cooking.
Chili- Must Love Garlic
Slow Cooker Chili

Tips & Recipe Notes:

  • We like to add the fat from the ground beef into our chili. It adds quite a bit of flavor and keeps things moist. If you would like less fat in your chili, you can use a slotted spoon to scoop your ground beef from the frying pan to the slow cooker, or drain the ground beef on a paper towel before adding it in.
  • To thicken chili, remove slow cooker lid and allow to simmer on low for 20-30 minutes before serving. This allows some of the liquid to evaporate.

More Cozy Bean Soups & Stews You Will Love:

  • Black Eyed Pea Stew– creamy, slow simmer Black-Eyed Pea Stew with tender wilted collards and salty diced ham. A hearty, filling meal all year round.
  • Garlic & Bacon Brothy Beans– beans and broth simmered with garlic, shallot, bacon, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Easy Spicy Sausage & White Bean Soup– an easy, one-pot soup full of all good things: Spicy ground sausage, creamy white beans, sweet carrots, spinach, white wine, and cream.
Slow cooker chili plated in gray bowl with friots, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Slow Cooker Chili

An easy set-it and forget it Slow Cooker Chili full of robust flavors balanced with sweet brown sugar and cocoa powder.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cups

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker
  • Skillet
  • Spatula

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 lbs ground beef 80/20 blend
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz tomato sauce
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 8 oz jar mild jalapeños drained
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 3-4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 15 oz can dark kidney beans drained
  • 15 oz can light kidney beans drained
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Toppings:

  • Fritos
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese we like sharp cheddar
  • Chives

Instructions
 

  • Brown Meat– In a frying pan, heat a touch of neutral cooking oil . Add ground beef and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook ground beef, breaking up with a spatula until gently browned and crumbled.
  • Set It & Forget It– Add ground beef along with remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Give it all a good stir and set it to cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste. To thicken chili, remove slow cooker lid and allow to simmer on low for 20-30 minutes before serving. This allows some of the liquid to evaporate.
  • Plate & Serve– Scoop out a generous portion into a bowl. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, fritos, and chives.

Notes

We like to add the fat from the ground beef into our chili. It adds quite a bit of flavor and keeps things moist. If you would like less fat in your chili, you can use a slotted spoon to scoop your ground beef from the frying pan to the slow cooker, or drain the ground beef on a paper towel before adding it in.
Don’t skip on the brown sugar and cocoa powder! The sweetness of the brown sugar balances the flavor and cocoa powder adds depth and complexity.
Keyword beans, brown sugar, chili, cocoa powder, crockpot, dinner, ground beef, kidney beans, slow cooker, soup, stew

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