The minute the cooler temperatures begin to make their way through my area, it's slow cooker season. Let's celebrate the change in weather with the best slow cooker beef and bean chili recipe you'll ever make. Making homemade chili is about taking things slow, letting the ingredients marinade together on a low flame, and not overcomplicating anything.
Chili is great all year long, but there's something about it when it's made during the "ber" months, with the trees slowly swaying, cuddled up on the couch with a cozy blanket.
Using a slow cooker is one of my favorite things to do, and I love using it for my pepperoncini pot roast sliders or for braising boneless short ribs in a decadent tomato sauce. With more slow cooker recipes to come, you might want to save this post as a reminder!
- What ingredients do I need for this recipe?
- How do I make this chili?
- Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
- What do I serve with beef and bean chili?
- Chili Recipe Variations and Toppings
- What do I do with the leftovers? How do I store this chili?
- Hungry for More?
- Did you like this recipe? Share it!
- The Best Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili Recipe
What ingredients do I need for this recipe?
I don't like to overcomplicate my chili recipes, especially when I use a slow cooker. All of the ingredients marry together on a low and slow cook time, so there's really no need for other flavors and spices.
- Ground Beef - I like using a grass-fed ground beef as it has a better fat content and is better not just for our bodies, but for the planet. You can find a variety of quality grass-fed brands in most grocery stores.
- Black Beans - black beans bring a lot of flavor to the dish, and whenever I think of chili, I immediately think of black beans.
- Cannellini Beans (or white kidney beans) cannellini beans bring a lot of richness to the dish, so these are must.
- Canned Diced tomatoes - not only do the tomatoes give more flavor, but they give added liquid for while the chili cooks.
- Tomato Sauce - the base liquid of this dish. We don't use any stock, broth, or water, so tomato sauce helps it cook and become nice and thick.
- Seasonings: We want the chili to be super flavorful, so we include cumin, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and salt and pepper.
See the recipe card below for specific information about quantities
How do I make this chili?
This is a slow cooker recipe, with one additional step of browning the ground beef. Otherwise, you set it and forget it!
Step 1: In a large frying pan, add the ground beef and begin to brown on a medium flame. Cook until the meat is 90% of the way cooked, as it will continue to cook as it is in the slow cooker. Season the meat with paprika, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. Then set aside.
Step 2: In the slow cooker, pour in the ground beef and layer in the other ingredients like diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, and black beans.
Step 3: Pour in the can of tomato sauce, then add in another layer of salt, pepper, chili powder.
Step 4: Close the lid to the slow cooker and cook on a low setting for up to 5 hours. Stir occasionally.
HINT: If the chili is too thin, you may want to add a little bit of a thickener such as flour, arrowroot or cornstarch. Stir it in and let the chili thicken. My first test was a little runny, so when I added a little arrowroot, it helped!
Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
If you're looking to create this recipe but have specific dietary needs or allergens, here are some of my trusty recommendations to swap and sub in for the base recipe:
- Beans: you can opt in any beans you'd like here. Garbanzo, red kidney, even some lentils will work too.
- Vegetarian: completely omit the beef and add in the veggies you love to make it hearty. I love potatoes, zucchini, or garbanzo (chickpea) beans.
- Vegan: need a meatless option? use plant-based meats and add to the recipe following the steps provided.
- Spices: if you love chili, but don't really love the spice, leave out the chili powder and it will still be just as yummy.
What do I serve with beef and bean chili?
There are so many different ways to pair chili with other food items or sides, so here are some of my favorites:
- Over rice - This is classic, and it does great as a meal prep lunch
- Over sweet potatoes
- Over egg or ramen-style noodles
- With potatoes (mashed preferrably to soak up all the yummy liquids)
- With tortilla chips - makes for a fun snack-ish type of lunch by scooping the chili with the tortilla chip.
- Over a hot dog (aka the chili dog!)
There's no wrong way to serve or pair this chili!
Chili Recipe Variations and Toppings
My favorite part about making chili is the variations for making it, and the toppings!! Here are my favorite toppings and ways to vary this recipe:
- Meat: You can absolutely use ground chicken, turkey, lamb, or even pork for this chili. I do have a turkey chili in the works too, so stay tuned!
- Cheese: adding a little sprinkling of sharp cheddar, pepper jack, or even freshly shaved manchego is delicious on top of the cuppa chili
- Sour Cream: a dollop of sour cream helps to cut the savory flavors and the heat of the dish with the cold, refreshing sour cream on top.
- Croutons: add some crunch to the chili with crumbled croutons on top, let them get nice a soggy, and sop up the flavors of the dish.
What do I do with the leftovers? How do I store this chili?
All leftovers can be placed in a tightly sealed tupperware and placed directly in the fridge. This recipe is also freeze friendly, so if you want to make this dish for another day, simply cook the entire meal, let cool, then pour into a tupperware and into the freezer it goes.
When ready, you can defrost the chili in the fridge overnight, and warm in a large pot the next day. I don't typically recommend a microwave for warming this up, because not only will it splatter, but it won't warm evenly.
Hungry for More?
Looking for other easy dinner recipes? You've gotta check these out!
Did you like this recipe? Share it!
If you're just as in love with this recipe as I am, please share a comment below and rate it! Better yet, share this recipe with family and friends!! Thank you for being here!!
The Best Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili Recipe
- slow cooker
- medium frying pan
- wooden spoon
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 15oz can tomato sauce
- ½ can cannellini beans
- ½ can black beans
- ½ can diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder divided
- 2 teaspoon chili powder divided
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- In a large frying pan, add the ground beef and begin to brown on a medium flame. Cook until the meat is 90% of the way cooked, as it will continue to cook as it is in the slow cooker.
- Season the meat with paprika, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. Then set aside.
- In the slow cooker, pour in the ground beef and layer in the other ingredients like diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, and black beans.
- Pour in the can of tomato sauce, then add in another layer of salt, pepper, chili powder.
- Close the lid to the slow cooker and cook on a low setting for up to 5 hours. Stir occasionally.