Crockpot Chili for Tonight, Tomorrow — or Whenever the Craving Strikes
If ever there was a match made in slow-cooking heaven, it’s your crockpot and a great chili recipe
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For some people, the crockpot is a near-daily workhorse in the kitchen. Though I tend to dust mine off in the colder months, I do have one exception: chili. Chili is good winter, spring, summer, or fall — perfect for tailgating or a picnic or, you know, a Tuesday. And with the astounding array of excellent chili recipes at your fingertips, you might never tire of it.
You might, however, rather not have the stove on for a long simmer while it’s 90 degrees out in the height of summer. In which case, it’s your crockpot to the rescue.
The magic of slow cooking
The technology behind slow cookers dates back to the 40s, but the Crock-Pot as we know it goes back to 1971 when it was introduced by the Rival Company. It was originally intended for cooking beans, which explains part of its excellence at all things chili now.
That’s because a typical chili recipe goes a little something like this: Brown your meat or saute your veggies. Add chili powder and ground cumin. Add diced tomatoes (if the recipe calls for them). Add red kidney beans. Add beef broth. Then simmer on low heat all the live-long day — ideally, unattended.
And that’s exactly what a crockpot is good at. Set-it-and-forget-it. Dump-and-go. Whatever your preferred euphemism, it’s minimal prep for, six hours later, maximum taste and texture.
Crockpot vs. slow cooker — is there a difference?
There’s a Crock-Pot, which is a specific brand of slow cooker, and a crockpot, which is a generic term used to describe the type of slow cooker that comes with a ceramic insert and heating elements on all sides. A slow cooker is a much broader category that also includes devices with metal inserts and a heat source from below only.
In short: A crockpot is a type of slow cooker, but not every slow cooker is a Crock-Pot — or even a crockpot. Got it?
The key takeaway is that most crockpot and slow cooker recipes are interchangeable (and can also be made using the slow cooker feature on your multicooker or Instant Pot). So whatever you have in your kitchen cupboards, it’ll do, especially if you’re trying to make one of these 12 crockpot chili recipes.
This crockpot chili features big hunks of chuck roast, black beans, and big, bold taste. That’s because Heather of Heather Likes Food is sure to bloom the spices in oil before adding them to the crockpot, so as not to lose a pinch of flavor. It’s a great trick to keep in your back pocket for any slow cooker chili recipe.
Jimmy Fallon made this crockpot chili on Martha Stewart’s TV show more than a decade ago — and it’s still delicious. Skip the habanero (or substitute a jalapeño) and dial down the cayenne pepper if you’re making this for milder palates ... but do serve it with tortilla chips, as they do on the show!
This crockpot chili recipe from Leite’s Culinaria is a fairly straightforward and familiar mix of lean ground beef, tomato paste, yellow onion, spices, and beans of your choice. But it goes to the next level thanks to the cilantro sour cream.
Smoky chipotle, black beans, and cubes of round steak are the magical trio behind this crockpot chili. Avocados are an optional but highly recommended topping.
In the words of one reviewer, “This one is a keeper.” This ground beef and black bean crockpot chili recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen is gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-glycemic (just mind your toppings!). But the real secret is the can of refried pinto beans, which serves as a base and makes the chili nice and thick. Pair it with this gluten-free cornbread to round out the meal. Looking for keto chili recipes? We've got a whole roundup of recipes for you.
The not-so-secret ingredient for this creamy crockpot chicken chili? Cream cheese. The taco vibes come from the mix of corn, beans, and taco seasoning — your favorite packet, or the custom blend from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. Top with cheddar cheese for an extra creamy punch.
What's the best chili recipe for tomato-haters? White chili, of course! This crockpot white chicken chili recipe from Well Plated is easy and delicious, with no tomatoes in sight. It's got a mild flavor thanks to white kidney beans and green chilies to create the perfect base for all the DIY toppings of your dreams.
You can sub ground turkey for ground beef in any chili recipe you like, but the results can be a little dry. Better to start with a crockpot chili recipe specifically for ground turkey, like this one from Salt and Lavender. The tomato sauce helps keep the turkey moist, while the mix of traditional spices, including paprika and oregano, make sure the chili is anything but bland.
Crockpots are beloved because they can turn just about any tough cut of meat meltingly tender, through gentle heat and time. But the crockpot's origins — cooking beans — means vegetarians benefit as well. This crockpot vegetarian chili recipe from Show Me the Yummy is a delicious mix of sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and three kinds of beans, for a vegetarian main course with heft, protein, and flavor.
You can add another dimension to your vegetarian crockpot chili with quinoa, as in this healthy and delicious recipe from Wholesomelicious. Bonus: it’s gluten-free.
Quinoa also plays a starring role in this vegan crockpot chili from Eleat Sports Nutrition, which also features green lentils, black beans, and vegetarian broth.
Pork chili isn’t as common as beef or chicken chili, but it’s just as delicious. For this crockpot chili recipe, first prep the pulled pork in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. Then toss in the chili ingredients and go for round two. TheMRSingLink adds small shell pasta, because why not?!