The best Classic Chili Recipe made in the Crockpot. Easy to throw together with ground beef, veggies, and beans all you have to do is let it simmer in the slow cooker all day and you have a warm and comforting meal the whole family will love!
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This post was originally published December 2, 2016 and was updated on September 14, 2022 with updated photos, information, and clarified recipe.
Easy Slow Cooker Chili Recipe
This chili recipe will always hold a dear place in my heart because it was the FIRST RECIPE ever published on The Schmidty Wife.
Not only is it the oldest recipe I decided to share but it is such a solid recipe that I still make it for my family on a regular basis, that’s over 7 years! So you have to believe it is a good one!
What I love most about his chili recipe is that it is purely a classic version. Somewhat reminiscent of what your mom or grandma maybe made. No frills or secret ingredients but just a recipe that will make you feel cozy and warm you up!
If you are looking for more exciting chili recipes don’t worry I have your back, you can check out my:
- Slow Cooker 3 Bean Vegetarian Chili
- Secret Ingredient Turkey Chili
- Crockpot Creamy Pumpkin Chili
- I even have this round-up of other Cozy Chili Recipes for Fall
BUT before you check those out i do think you NEED to make this classic version first.
It is easy, delicious, and seriously can’t be messed up.
For this recipe besides typical kitchen utensils you will need a crockpot. I love using crock pots and if you don’t have one yet you need to invest! A nice thing about a crockpot/slow cooker is they tend to last a long time unlike some other appliances, I have been using mine for 8 years and it is still going strong!
The ingredients list looks long at first but you need to realize that about half of them are spices to get just the right flavor. So the spices have all been included on one bullet point so as not to startle you!
- Ground Beef – Starting off with ground beef typical of classic chili, I have noticed over the years that when making this it doesn’t matter too much what fat percentage you use. You will want to drain the beef before adding it to the crockpot anyways so use whatever fat percentage you prefer. On the chance your grocery store is out of ground beef (hey it has happened to me) I have substituted Ground Bison and I thought it was delicious.
- Green Bell Peppers – Bell peppers are another classic chili staple. I prefer using green peppers because I find the other colors tend to get too sweet in this recipe for my liking but if you have a red pepper instead of a green it will totally work.
- Onion – You will want to dice up a yellow, white, or sweet onion.
- Jalapeños (optional) – Totally optional BUT if you love the jalapeno flavors but without the heat don’t fret you can still use the jalapenos just be sure to remove all of the seeds and white insides leaving just the green part of the pepper to dice up and use. This is what I do when I make the chili and it definitely gives flavor without the heat, trust me my kids who are 4 & 6 still love it!
- Dark Red Kidney Beans – I find that kidney beans are a must in chili, or at least a classic version. I tend to grab the dark red kidney beans but a lite red will work just as well.
- Black Bean “Chili Ready” – Alright so “Chili Ready” beans are exactly that, they are beans that come pre-seasoned designed for use in chili. These chili ready beans are typically not brand specific, you should be able to find a few versions depending on where you shop, you might even find a mild versus spicy variety. Chili ready beans will also come in different bean varieties, this recipe calls for black beans but if you find a different kind of bean more appealing you can use those. Lastly if you can’t find “chili ready” beans just don’t use them, grab a regular can to use instead!
- Diced Tomatoes (optional “Chili Ready”) – So when years ago when I first was making this recipe I was always able to find “Chili Ready” diced tomatoes just like the beans, in recent years I haven’t been able to find them. There are still plenty of flavored diced tomatoes to choose from but none that are labeled “chili ready” anymore (or at least where I live now). A good substitute to chili ready would also be fire roasted diced tomatoes. BUT in recent years I have just gone the easy route and bought regular diced tomatoes. So it is kind of like choosing your own adventure, choose the diced tomato that works best for you.
- 100% Tomato Juice – Now I always go back and forth about the thickness of what chili should be and if it is necessary to add liquid (my vegetarian version doesn’t use any added liquid) BUT in this version the addition of tomato juice just seems right! Now when you are shopping this is the huge can of tomato juice typically found in the juice aisle instead of next to the tomatoes, it seems like a lot but trust me it works.
- Chili Powder, Cumin, Onion Powder, Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Garlic Powder, Ground Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes – Like I stated before this seems like a lot but I have found it to be the perfect blend of seasonings!
For a complete detailed list of the ingredients continue towards the bottom of the page.
Pre-heat your crockpot as you are getting everything prepped and added! So before you start all the prep get the crockpot out and turn on to LOW. This ensures that your food starts the cooking process immediately once everything is added instead of waiting for the crockpot to come to temperature.
Over medium heat cook the ground beef in a skillet, crumbling while cooking. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until there is little pink left. Drain any liquid from the skillet and add the cooked ground beef to the crockpot.
Add the diced pepper and diced onion to the crockpot. Without draining the cans add the dark red kidney beans, chili ready beans, and diced tomatoes to the crockpot. Measure out and add the chili powder, cumin, onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Slowly add the tomato juice to the crockpot. Carefully mix everything together. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
tips, tricks and questions
How long does chili need to cook in a crockpot?
Low and Slow is best for Chili, it helps meld all of the flavors together. So cooking in the slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours works best. You can also cook on high for 3 to 4 hours if in a hurry.
Ideas for Chili Toppings:
- Green Onion
- Sour cream
- Saltine Crackers
- Nacho Doritos (trust me on this one, so good)
Chili Serving Ideas:
- In a Bowl (With all your favorite toppings)
- On a Baked Potato
- Chili Cheese Dip
- Chili Dog
- With Corn Bread
Can I freeze this Slow Cooker Chili?
Yes, two different ways actually. Before or after cooking.
If you want to freeze this before cooking as meal prep. Simply brown the meat, drain, and cool. Add all the ingredients to a freezer safe bag or container. For best results before cooking transfer to the fridge to thaw the night before cooking in the crockpot.
If you are freezing after cooking this works as well. Simply make sure the chili is cool before transferring to a freeze proof container.
Classic Chili Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Classic Crockpot Chili
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 jalapeños, diced with seeds and white insides removed (optional)
- 1 15oz can dark red kidney beans
- 1 15oz can chili ready black beans
- 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 46oz can 100% tomato juice
- Over medium heat cook the ground beef in a skillet, crumbling while cooking. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until there is little pink left. Drain any liquid from the skillet and add the cooked ground beef to the crockpot.
- Add the diced peppers and diced onion to the crockpot. Without draining the cans add the dark red kidney beans, chili ready beans, and diced tomatoes to the crockpot. Measure out and add the chili powder, cumin, onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Slowly add the tomato juice to the crockpot. Carefully mix everything together. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
Original recipe called for chili ready tomatoes, if you are able to find those absolutely use those, if not just plain diced tomatoes will work.
Serving Size:1/6 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 709Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 149mgSodium: 1532mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 12gSugar: 12gProtein: 59g
Nutritional data is automated and might not be 100% accurate, final nutritional information will depend on ingredients used and any changes made.
Not much can beat a bowl of classic chili, except a bowl of easy to make Classic Crockpot Chili. To me this chili is the epitome of what chili should be full of beef, onions, peppers, beans, and tomatoes. Not that I don’t love other varieties of chili for example my Crockpot Creamy Pumpkin Chili is completely drool worthy. But I have lived a few different places throughout the country now and some peoples idea of chili to me is a little off, I don’t want to call out Ohio but Cincinnati Chili… umm not my favorite. If you are not familiar with how Cincinnati does their chili they leave out the beans, add cinnamon, and put it on top of spaghetti usually then topped with cheese and onions. Then there is Texas chili, which I am pretty sure includes chocolate…. So yeah different places can mean you get quite the different chili experience. So while I love the variety chili brings to me nothing beats my idea of classic chili. So today I share with you my Classic Crockpot Chili.
This chili simmers in the crockpot all day long so it is ready after a long day and it is very easy to put together in the morning (especially if you do some prep the night before). You start by browning the ground beef, then chopping up the onion and peppers, add all of that to the crockpot along with beans and tomatoes. Adding the spices and then the tomato juice. Viola dinner is ready! At my house we like to top our chili with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and saltines, sometime we also crush up Nacho Cheese Doritos for the top (when I am feeling nice enough to buy junk food at the grocery store). So I hope you give my version of Classic Crockpot Chili a try, Enjoy!