Want to know the secret to getting the most flavor from your homemade chili? Use your slow cooker.
Like most dishes, with chili, it’s all about how you cook it. In this case, a lower temperature and extended cooking time allow all the ingredients to develop into a rich, flavorful blend of truly comforting chili goodness. The slow-cooking process also makes the meat especially tender and juicy.
We’ve gathered a few tips and a few of our favorite slow cooker chili recipes so you can create your own cookoff-worthy batch at home.
How Long to Slow-cook Your Chili
The traditional method of making slow cooker chili is to first use a skillet to brown the beef (drain the fat), and to brown the onions and/or garlic. Then put those and all your other ingredients (except the beans) into the slow cooker. You can cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Then stir in the beans before serving.
Though it’s fine to put raw meat in your slow cooker, browning the meat beforehand creates a richer, bolder flavor. If you don’t have time or want to avoid the extra cleanup, you can skip this step in most chili recipes.
When serving, it’s fun to create a chili toppings bar so everyone can customize their own bowl.
Easy Chili Recipes
While meat, beans, tomatoes and chili powder will populate most recipes, feel free to get creative with the rest of your ingredients. Our Sweet Potato and Beef Chili switches up the key vegetable taste and adds a blend of warm spices. Even more creative, Frito Pie uses corn chips for a memorable twist – it’s similar to a walking taco.
If you like your chili thick and meaty, you can make a bean-less chili by swapping them out for a little extra ground beef or turkey.
Turkey, chicken and pork can be substituted for beef in most chili recipes. Our pulled pork recipe combines classic chili spices with a touch of sweet and smoky barbecue sauce. White Bean and Chicken Chili, a classic creation, requires just 15 minutes of prep time. Greek White Chicken Chili uses lemon, artichokes and chickpeas for a Mediterranean twist.
A slow cooker vegetarian chili might include a few varieties of chili beans, including pinto, garbanzo and black beans. If you want a meatless chili but want to avoid having a surplus of beans in your bowl, you can swap in seitan, tofu, mushrooms or even quinoa, like in this game-changing Vegan Quinoa Chili.