Healthy Crock Pot Chili Recipe for Chilly Weather

Crock Pot Chili is THICK, HEARTY, and full of FLAVOR! A few minutes of prep and low and slow cooking makes the perfect chili full of TENDER beef and HEALTHY vegetables.

Serve with your FAVORITE toppings when the weather turns chilly. Perfect for a CROWD!

white bowl of chili topped with cheese, sour cream, and avocado

If you’d rather skip my essential cooking tips and tricks and get straight to this delicious recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.

Chili is a favorite dish in most kitchens, including mine. I love it for when the weather turns colder or when I am having friends over because EVERYONE LOVES IT!

Slowly cooked in the crock pot all day allows all the ingredients to melt into each other giving a great depth of flavor that we crave as soon as the weather starts to cool down.

Also, what’s better than throwing all the ingredients into the crock pot in the morning and coming home to a cooked meal!?

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you make this chili tonight as everyone loved this recipe in my house and that is saying a lot because of all the picky eaters I have.

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labeled picture of chili ingredients

Thick Chili Recipe Ingredients

  • onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper
  • garlic
  • lean ground beef
  • tomatoes (diced, chopped, sauce)
  • kidney beans
  • spices (chili powder, bay leaves, salt & pepper

I have notes on ingredient substitutions below in the tips section!

How to make chili in a crock pot

STEP ONE: Brown the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain fat if desired. Add to crock pot.

STEP TWO: Add the chopped veggies, tomatoes, and spices. Cover and cook low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.

STEP THREE: Add the beans and stir. Cook for another 3-4 hours on low or 1 more hour on high. Serve warm!

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overhead picture of a bowl of chili

Is homemade chili healthy?

Making chili from scratch is the easiest way to make it healthy. You can choose lean meats, drain the excess fat, and add all the extra vegetables that you want!

I like to use carrots instead of sugar, to cut the acidity in the tomatoes. It’s a great way to sneak an extra serving of vegetables into the recipe.

Literally, the carrots just melt into the sauce and you’d never know they were there!

Can I use another type of meat?

I like to use lean ground beef but feel free to use ground chicken, turkey, bison, or venison. My husband is a hunter and I love the extra flavor that venison adds to the chili.

For a more complex flavor, add a combination of venison and beef.

Picking leaner meats gives you a healthy chili recipe for the crock pot or slow cooker.

Vegetarian? Add pinto beans and black beans instead of the ground meat. I haven’t tried any meat substitutes yet, but I am sure they would work just as well.

Can I use dried beans?

Originally I wanted to post this with dried beans because they work well with the slow cooker. Dried beans are cheaper but require a little extra work.

If you want to use dried beans, rinse and soak them overnight. Then add them along with the meat in the crock pot.

If you don’t have time to soak overnight, rinse and boil them in water for 2 hours. Then drain and rinse before adding to crockpot.

Leave out the beans and double up on the meat and tomatoes if you want a paleo or keto chili recipe!

close up of spoon of chili hovering over a bowl

Do I have to use Mexene chili powder? I can’t get it where I am?

Mexene chili powder is a blend of chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic.  If you don’t use it then you could use equal parts of oregano, cumin, paprika, garlic powder.

The best part of using your own spice mixes instead of a chili starter pack is the flour.

Most use masa flour but some contain regular flour or other thickeners. They also contain a lot of salt.

Using your own spices gives you a gluten free chili recipe or low sodium chili to enjoy.

Can you put raw meat in the crockpot for chili?

I wouldn’t recommend it. You want to make sure the beef is cooked through before putting in the slow cooker.

Also, adding it raw means that all the fat stays in the chili and you won’t be able to drain it off.

Is chili better in the crock pot?

Chili is best when it is simmered for a few hours. Cooking it in the slow cooker means you get that slow cooked flavor without doing any extra work!

Can I use this recipe without a crock pot?

Of course. I love this crock pot for this recipe because it’s hands off but feel free to use your own large pot and cook on the stove top. I love my dutch oven because it keeps the heat evenly.

If you want to cook it on the stove top, just follow the directions and simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Stir often to avoid hot spots and scorching.

You can also make it in the instant pot!

overhead picture of spoon in bowl of chili

Can you cook chili overnight in a crock pot?

Unless you only sleep 4-5 hours each night I would not recommend it. There is a possibility that you can burn it.

If you need it first thing in the morning, I would recommend cooking it the day before and then placing it on warm right before you go to bed. But no longer than 7 hours.

How to store the chili?

This recipe will keep in the fridge for 4 days or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. This is great for meal prep days!

Great crock pot chili toppings

  • avocado
  • sour cream
  • cheese (cheddar, pepper jack)
  • cilantro
  • lime
  • bacon
  • corn chips, tortilla chips or strips
  • crackers
  • green onions
  • jalapeños – pickled or fresh
  • hot sauce
  • beer
overhead picture of crock pot chili and toppings

Best ways to enjoy chili

  • on tacos
  • over fries with cheese
  • chili hot dogs
  • over spaghetti instead of meat sauce
  • with rice
  • on nachos
  • stuffed baked potatoes
  • cornbread or biscuits

Crock Pot Chili Tips

  • If you want a spicy crock pot chili, add some green chilies, jalapeños, or a pinch of cayenne pepper. I love to add a tablespoon of juice from a jar of pickled jalapeños. Especially if people don’t want to eat the peppers or are scared of the heat when they see them.
  • Adding a cup of corn will add more flavor and texture.
  • Add a can of your favorite beer.
  • Add 1 ounce of chocolate (baking chocolate or a tablespoon of cocoa powder) to the pot to enhance the flavor of the cayenne and chili powder.
  • To avoid mushy beans, make sure you are adding canned beans later in the cooking process.
  • For more flavor, add the spices when you cook the beef to allow the flavors to develop faster.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan when cooking the beef. You want it to brown and not steam.
  • Cook the onions in a little bit of olive oil before adding the ground beef to brown.
  • Substitute crushed tomatoes for diced tomatoes if you don’t want large tomato pieces. You can also substitute tomato juice for the sauce.

This hearty chili is thick, flavorful and can be made to suit a gluten free, keto, paleo, or whole 30 diet. Talk about the perfect comfort food!!

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

collage of chili with text "healthy crock pot recipe"

Other hearty recipes to enjoy

Chili Crock Pot Recipe

square picture of bowl of chili for recipe card

Crock Pot Chili

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes

Crock Pot Chili is THICK, HEARTY, and full of FLAVOR!

Ingredients

  • 2 Large Onions (chopped fine)
  • 2 Large Green Bell Peppers (chopped fine)
  • 2 Stalks Celery (chopped fine)
  • 2-3 Carrots (chopped very fine)
  • 6 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2lb Ground Beef
  • 1  Can Rotel (14.5oz diced tomatoes and green chilies)
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes (14.5oz)
  • 2 Cans Tomato Sauce (28oz)
  • 2 Cans Dark Red Kidney Beans (drained, rinsed)
  • 2 Tbsp. Mexene Chili Powder Mix
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Brown the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain fat if desired. Add to crock pot.
  2. Add the chopped veggies, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices. Cover and cook low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.
  3. Add the beans and stir. Cook for another 3-4 hours on low or 1 more hour on high. Serve warm with your favorite toppings!

Notes

*If you love this recipe as much as I do, please leave me a comment and rate it 5 stars! Thank you!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 827mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 30g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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