Crockpot Chili is one of our favorite meals during the winter months. It’s also great for large gatherings! Because it is made in the crockpot, the flavors have time to blend together really well. I usually make a large batch of cornbread to go with it and I serve toppings on the side. Corn chips, cheese, sour cream, green onions, and even chopped romaine lettuce taste awesome with it.
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Because we homeschool during the day, I’m always on the lookout for easy meals that can be prepared easily and/or quickly. The cool thing about this recipe is that you make it in a large batch, freeze it in portions and either reheat on the stove or in the crockpot. Many times, I will get up in the morning, grab a pre-made meal from the freezer and throw it in the crockpot on high so it’ll be ready for lunch. Letting my crockpot do most of my work for me has really helped our days go smoother. I often have two crockpots going at once- one for lunch and one for dinner!
There really is no wrong way to make chili. Your core ingredients are ground meat (You can omit if you prefer a vegetarian version, which I often do for myself in a smaller crockpot), tomatoes, beans, and seasonings of your choice.
Here’s how I make mine:
(I start this the night before we want to eat it.)
Turn the crockpot on LOW.
Place the meat in the crockpot. My favorite crockpot is a whopping 10 quarts and can be found here (This is an affiliate link, for which I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you, should you purchase through it):
This is a HUGE crockpot and to say I was thrilled when I found it on Amazon is an understatement! (large family mama here!) It’s perfect for large gatherings too, so church events, holidays, birthdays- this slow cooker can handle big meals very well! For the chili, I usually put 3-4lbs of frozen ground meat in it- you choose- turkey, beef, elk or a combo (for a plant-based-version, add dried beans in place of the meat- I usually do a combo of pinto, kidney and balck beans, about 1 cup each).
Add 2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes and 2 8 ounce cans of Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles over top the frozen meat. (With a plant-based version, I also add water to compemsate for the liquids that the beans will use to rehydrate)
I sprinkle this with dried minced garlic and dried diced onions.
This cooks on low overnight. (I do this in the morning (about 7am) for plant-based if I’m serving it for dinner, not overnight, because the beans won’t take that long to cook.)
In the morning…
The meat will be very tender and all I usually need to do is stir it and it all breaks up into a finely ground mixture- if not, I use a wooden spatula to break up any large chunks. Then I add 2-3 packets of prepared chili seasoning (McCormick has a good one), about a quarter cup of sugar, 2 cans or 1 cup each of cooked red kidney or black beans (Plant-based version- add lentils! This gives your chili a more ‘meaty’ consistency. I also add frozen peppers and onions) and a 6-8oz ounce can of tomato paste. If you like a sweet crunch to your chili, you can add some frozen sweet corn at this point too. Again, there are no rules! Chocolate and coffee are great additives to this chili, and if it seems like ‘something’s missing’- try very small amounts of salt to add a little more flavor. My husband likes adding hot sauce. Stir well and cook on low for another 2-4 hours.
My crockpot has a ‘warm” setting, so if I am serving this for dinner, I set it to warm and leave it till dinner time. If we are having it for lunch, then my work is done. If I am freezing it, I turn it off and cool it completely before portioning it and freezing.
Serve with cornbread, chips, and toppings of choice!