Chili is always at the top of my list when the weather cools and a chili recipe where a slow cooker does the work for me is even better!
I love how hearty a good chili is and you can serve it so many different ways that leftovers are never a problem—ladled on hot dogs, spooned over baked potatoes, or just piled high in a bowl with toppings!
This beef and bean chili is an easy, classic family-favorite recipe.
How to Make Chili in a Slow Cooker
I highly recommend browning the beef in a skillet along with the onions and garlic before adding the meat to your slow cooker. The browning process amps up the savory flavors in the chili and gives the spices a chance to bloom, which enhances their flavor.
If you don’t have time or you just don’t want to brown the beef you don’t have to. The beef will cook fine in the slow cooker and it will be completely safe to eat.
That said, you will miss out on the flavor from browning the beef, onions, garlic, and spices separately. Caramelizing them a bit adds a huge amount of flavor to the chili and you’ll be disappointed if you skip the step.
Once those things are browned then it’s as easy as stirring together the ingredients and letting it simmer until it’s time to eat!
How Long Should You Cook Slow Cooker Chili?
There’s some flexibility with the heat and the timing on this recipe.
Let take all day: If you’re looking to get dinner ready before you leave for work, then set the slow cooker to low and let it simmer for 8 hours, and it will be perfect. When you walk in the door after a day at the office you can thank your past self for planning ahead.
Let it cook while binging Netflix: Start the chili in the afternoon, cook it on high heat, and have it ready in three to four hours. If you go with this method, stir the chili occasionally so it cooks evenly.
What’s the Best Beef for Chili?
I like to use 90/10 ground beef for my chili. This gives some fat and richness to the chili without it getting too greasy.
If you would like to substitute steak, you absolutely can. I would use round steak cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Brown the steak in a skillet seasoned with salt and pepper, just like the ground beef, and then proceed with the recipe as written.
The Best Chili Fixings
When it comes to what to add to your chili, you can go completely crazy with options — fried onion strings, minced raw white onions, pimento cheese or even bacon.
If I have the time, I make some crispy corn strips to top my chili. I included the recipe below just in case you want to join me. Once you make them from scratch you’ll be glad you did, but there is no judgment if you’re pressed for time — store-bought corn tortilla chips work just fine!
Personally, I like classic chili toppings:
- sour cream
How to Use up Leftover Chili
If you have leftover chili, you are in luck! Chili is super versatile and you can use it in so many ways.
How to Store and Freeze Chili
Chili keeps and reheats beautifully. Some argue that chili is actually better on day two or three. It keeps well in the fridge for four to five days and you can freeze it without worry.
Reheat the chili in a pot with a splash of water over low heat.
More Incredible Slow Cooker Recipes
- Slow Cooker Cider Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Bourbon Short Ribs with Cheesy Grits
- Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos
- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Chili
- Slow Cooker Jambalaya
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds 90/10 ground beef
- 1 white onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons mild chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup lager beer or beef stock
- 1 (4.5 ounce) can green chiles
- 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- Crispy Tortillas Strips (garnish):
- 8 small corn tortillas, sliced into strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- To garnish:
- Sour cream
- Grated cheese
Brown the beef:
In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once it is hot, add ground beef and cook, breaking up the beef as it cooks, until beef is browned in spots, 7-8 minutes.
Add onions, garlic, and spices and continue to cook for a few minutes to combine flavors. At the very end of browning, add beer or stock and use the liquid to scrape up any stuck bits from the skillet.
Add to the slow cooker:
Transfer all the skillet ingredients to a slow cooker along with green chiles, beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Cover the chili and cook on high for four hours, stirring occasionally, or set to low for 8 hours.
Finish the chili:
Season the chili with salt and pepper to taste once it has cooked. Serve it in big bowls garnished with cheese, sour cream, chives, and tortilla strips.
To make the crispy corn strips:
Preheat oven to 375 ̊F. Slice tortillas into strips and spread them out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and spices and use your hands to mix together.
Spread out in an even layer and bake the strips for 5-6 minutes. Then stir strips to make sure they are cooking evenly. The ones around the edges will cook faster. Bake for 4-5 minutes and then remove from oven and cool. Tortilla strips will continue to get crispy as they cool.