Chili is the perfect recipe to make in a slow cooker. Slow cookers are meant to bring out the flavors in all the ingredients at a low and slow pace which is ideal for making chili. With this recipe, you own’t use those flavor packets commonly found in supermarkets, instead, you’re actually going to use a few simple spices to make the flavor all your own for a truly homemade chili.
For starters, if you do have any of those chili flavoring packets, toss them away. They are more bad than good and are absolutely loaded with sodium. Cutting down on the sodium will actually make chili taste better and let the natural flavors stand out. The main spices you’re going to need are chili powder and cumin. This recipe calls for 1/4 cup of chili powder. It may seem like a lot, but it’s the perfect amount to blend with the 2 lbs of beef, the vegetables and the beans. Speaking of beans, there’s always been the debate of “beans or no beans in chili?” in chili. Here’s the deal – true traditional chili does not have beans. And that’s just fine. But chili has evolved in popular culture and beans have become commonplace. When you order a bowl of chili in a restaurant, it most often has beans. So in going with the “popular traditional” approach, our slow cooker chili will contain beans. You don’t have to soak dry beans overnight or anything like that, a couple of cans of beans will work perfectly. In fact, I really like to use 1 15oz can of light kidney beans and 1 15oz can of dark kidney beans. The added color contrasts alone make the chili look all the more delicious! Also, i try to get one of the cans of beans to be “no salt added”. Again, in using canned beans and tomatoes, the sodium content can run sky high and ruin the taste. For the canned tomatoes, I like to mix it up a bit too. 1 canned of regular diced tomatoes and 1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes.
This recipe starts on the stovetop which is important. Using a large pan to start out the vegetables and to brown the beef, together with the chili powder and cumin, starts all the ingredients out just right before they take that 6 hour plunge in the slow cooker to let all the wonderful flavors to come together.
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes (low-sodium)
- 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15-ounce) cans dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) cans light kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped pickled jalapeños, drained
- Using a large pan or cooker, heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion and peppers. Stir until soft - about 6-8 minutes.
- Add garlic, cumin and chili powder. Mix it well with a wooden spoon and then add ground beef. Use a wooden spoon and break up the meat while it browns. Cook for about 7 minutes or until beef is no longer pink.
- Empty the entire contents of the pan into slow cooker and add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. DRAIN THE CANS OF BEANS FIRST, then add them as well. Stir everything well. Cook on low for 8 hours.