It doesn’t get better than slow cooker chili! This is the best slow cooker chili recipe you’ll find, made with ground beef, beans, the perfect homemade chili seasoning, and a secret ingredient – maple syrup.
It’s chili season, people! And you know we’re big chili fans here at Fit Foodie Finds. While we love mixing things up with flavors and ingredients, this is a tried and true recipe for classic slow cooker chili. It’s simple, delicious, and oh so easy to make.
Simply cook the beef in a skillet, transfer it to a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients, set it, and forget it! This crockpot chili is similar to our beef chili recipe, with a few tweaks and, of course, made in the slow cooker. There’s minimal prep which makes this recipe a go-to for busy days.
“Absolutely delicious! 5 stars from my hubby and he’s picky with his chili!” – Jenikka
What You Need for Slow Cooker Chili
This crockpot chili comes together with simple ingredients. Nothing fancy here!
Meat: We like to use 85% fat ground beef for this slow cooker chili because the little bit of fat adds so much flavor. If you choose a leaner meat, you risk compromising flavor and texture. For optimal flavor, we pair the ground beef with beef broth.
Beans: While many traditional chili recipes do not call for beans, we like to use 2 different kinds of beans (butter beans and kidney beans) for texture and fiber.
Tomatoes: You can’t have red chili without tomatoes! Tomatoes make this chili thick, creamy, and flavorful. This slow cooker chili recipe calls for 3 different kinds:
- tomato sauce (for ultra tomato flavor)
- crushed tomatoes (adds texture)
- tomato paste (to thicken and intensify the flavors)
Maple Syrup: Every chili recipe needs some form of sweetness to bring out the savory chili seasoning flavors. We like to use pure maple syrup – it’s warm, unrefined, and absolutely delightful. You won’t make another chili recipe without it!
Flavors & Seasonings: For truly epic flavor, we use: onion, garlic, hot sauce, and classic chili spices. This combination of flavors is what makes this slow cooker chili so great.
Slow Cooker Chili Variations
Make this slow cooker chili recipe your own! Use any of the following easy ingredient swaps in your own kitchen:
- Beef: Use the same amount of ground chicken or ground turkey instead of beef. We’ve even make this chili recipe with a plant-based ground to make it vegetarian.
- Beans: Feel free to swap the beans for a different kind such as black beans, garbanzo beans, or cannellini beans.
- Broth: We love using beef broth when cooking with ground beef, but use any broth you prefer.
- Maple: Swap pure maple syrup with a little brown sugar or honey.
- Spices: Use 3-4 tablespoons of our homemade chili seasoning in place of all of the spices.
How can you make this chili vegetarian?
For vegetarian slow cooker chili, use a plant-based ground or make our vegetarian chili recipe instead.
Can you make this chili on the stovetop?
Absolutely. We include stovetop chili instructions in the recipe notes (at the bottom of the recipe card).
Store slow cooker chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To reheat: If you have multiple servings of chili in the slow cooker, heat on high for 1-2 hours, or until warm. You can also microwave individual bowls of chili for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through.
To thin out chili: Chili tends to thicken as it cools, so leftover chili will likely be thicker than when you first made it. Add 1 tablespoon of broth or water at a time to thin out the chili to your desired consistency.
Freezing Instructions for Chili
Slow cooker chili freezes wonderfully! We have an entire guide about how to freeze soup and it works the exact same way for chili. In a nutshell, let the chili cool completely, transfer it to freezer-safe containers, seal, and freeze for up to 3 months.
leftover chili ideas
Got leftovers? Here are a few ways you can repurpose this slow cooker chili:
Chili Nachos: If you love nachos like we do, place a bag of tortilla chips on a baking sheet and top with leftover (warm) chili, shredded cheddar cheese, and other nacho toppings. You can even heat up the nachos in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is nice and melty.
Chili Mac and Cheese: It doesn’t get much better than combining mac and cheese and chili! Try our chili mac and cheese recipe for ultimate chili leftovers.
Slow Cooker Chili Serving Suggestions
Never skip the toppings! We love jazzing up bowls of chili with any of the following:
- Tortilla chips
- Sliced avocado or guacamole
- Fresh cilantro
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Diced bell peppers
- Diced red onion
- Lime wedges
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Erin from The Wooden Skillet.