A DASH of Cooking: Beef Crockpot Chili

Loads of ground beef and onions meld with San Marzano tomatoes to make this rich beef crockpot chili.  This is one of my favorite recipes for hearty leftovers all week long.

This Beef Crockpot Chili is a Family Favorite

I’m not going to lie, I love making this chili because of how much everyone else loves this chili.  I love it too, don’t get me wrong, but this is one of those recipes that meets the unspoken universal good chili criteria leading to lots of second helpings and empty bowls.  Nothing makes me smile more than when someone tells me how much they enjoy something I’ve made.  It also makes me really happy when I get requests for me to cook specific things, and this one gets requested a lot.

Beef Crockpot Chili makes great leftovers

This chili recipe will completely fill a 6-quart crockpot while cooking.  Be prepared to either eat a lot of chili during the following week after making, or alternatively, immediately freeze half of the chili after cooked.  This can be thawed and reheated later, and it will taste just as good as the day it was first made.

I also really like to pack this chili with some brown rice or a corn muffin for lunch, though be prepared for inquiries from curious office mates on what you are eating for lunch that smells so darn good.

How to Make Beef Crockpot Chili

This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook.

“Weeknight Beef Chili.” Slow Cooker Revolution: One Test Kitchen, 30 Slow Cookers, 200 Amazing Recipes, Americas Test Kitchen, Brookline, MA, 2011, p. 120.


  • 2 slices Italian or other white bread
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 lbs. 90% ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, small dice
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 6 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz can San Marzano tomato puree
  • 1 28 oz can San Marzano diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 minced canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce


  1. Tear the bread into a medium bowl.  Pour the milk over the bread and allow to soak for 5 mins before mashing the bread and milk into a paste. 
  2. Mix in the ground beef and a large pinch of salt and pepper until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  3. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or a heavy duty 12-inch skillet) over medium-high heat until oil is hot.  Add the onions, chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano ,and red pepper flakes and cook until the onions are softened and slightly browned.
  4. Stir in the beef mixture, bit by bit, and book until the meat is browned.  Make sure any large pieces of meat are completely broken up before transferring the meat and onion mixture to a slow cooker.
  5. Return the pan to the stove and over medium-low heat, deglaze the pan slightly using the tomato puree.  Remove from heat and transfer the tomato puree o the slow cooker.
  6. Add the diced tomatoes and juice, beans, soy sauce, sugar, and chipotles into the slow cooker.  Cover and cook for approximately 6-8 hours on low, or 4-5 hours on high.
  7. Let chili settle for 5 minutes once cooking is complete before skimming any excess fat from surface and serving.


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