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A delicious, easy recipe for Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne. Find all my tips and tricks for adding the most flavor to your chili every step of the way!
When it comes to slow cookers, it’s easy to take shortcuts and sacrifice flavor for convenience.
But then one day you wake up and you realize: If I am going to make chili, I want it to be the best chili anyone has ever had! Despite the fact that I made it in a slow cooker.
Let me show you how to add more flavor and love in every step of your chili-making for the best, most delicious results, even in a slow cooker.
How do you make Chili con Carne?
- Start with bacon (it’s always a good idea).
- Cook some bacon in a Dutch oven or stock pot to render the fat. You can use that fat to brown (aka ADD FLAVOR) to the beef in your chili.
- Cut the beef into large pieces so there is more surface area available for browning, then brown the bacon in batches so the beef gets brown, crusty edges (and doesn’t steam).
- Next, soften onions in the remaining bacon fat/beef juice. You could add the onions, raw, right into the slow cooker. But, why not add even more flavor by cooking them in bacon fat?
- When it comes to canned tomatoes, you can easily add more flavor to your chili depending on which tomatoes you choose. Opt for fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chilis for the most flavor.
- Finally, the spices. I use regular chili powder and chipotle chili powder for more heat and flavor. I also add cumin, oregano, coriander, thyme, garlic, and lots of salt and pepper.
How do you make Chili con Carne in a slow cooker?
Once you have all your delicious layers of flavor as outlined above, everything goes in the slow cooker until the beef chunks are so tender, they fall apart.
In my slow cooker, this takes about 8 to 10 hours on LOW.
When the chili is done, feel free to skim off any accumulated fat at the top that has melted off the beef roast.
What does Chili con Carne mean in English?
Chili con Carne means “Chili with meat.” So while the meat is required, the beans are not. Feel free to leave out the can of kidney beans (or add a second if that’s your style).
Is Chili con Carne a Mexican dish?
Chili con Carne is a Texas dish, not a Mexican one.
Not only did it originate in Texas, but it has been the official state food since 1977.
How to garnish Chili con Carne
I like a simple combination of sour cream, cheese, scallions, and cilantro. You can also try oyster crackers, diced avocado, additional chili powder, or Frito corn chips.
Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne
For the chili seasoning:
For the chili:
- 8 slices bacon
- 4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast cut into 1 1/2-inch thick steaks (see note 2)
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles undrained (see note 3)
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans drained and rinsed (see note 4)
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- To make the homemade chili seasoning, in a small bowl, whisk together chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, chipotle chili powder (if using), coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, fry bacon until crisp. Transfer to a plate and crumble when cool. Reserve bacon fat for cooking beef and keep hot.
- Season each side of the beef steaks generously with salt and pepper. Working with one steak at a time, fry in reserved bacon fat until well-browned on each side.
- Transfer to a cutting board and repeat with remaining steaks. Cut each browned steak into 1-inch to 2-inch cubes and transfer to slow cooker.
- Add onion to pot with bacon fat and beef juice. Stir until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
- To the slow cooker, add the crumbled bacon, tomatoes with chiles, chicken broth or water, beans, garlic, and chili seasoning.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours. The beef should be falling apart and tender. Strain excess fat off the top if desired. Shred the beef gently with tongs or two forks.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, cilantro, and corn chips.
- Chipotle chili powder: Chipotle chili powder is spicy! If you're unsure, start with 1 teaspoon (or less) until the chili is fully cooked. Then, taste and add more at the end. You can also substitute ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or omit it entirely.
- Chuck roast: Searing the beef is optional but recommended (it adds a ton of flavor), and cutting the roast into thick slabs lets you sear more sides of the beef. If you decide to skip this step, proceed to Step 2 after seasoning the roast with salt and pepper.
- Canned tomatoes: I love the flavor of fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles, but you can substitute regular canned tomatoes and add 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies. Ro*tel tomatoes are good, too.
- Kidney beans: 3 cups cooked beans can be substituted for the 2 cans (that’s about 1 cup dried beans before cooking). You can use any type of canned or cooked bean instead of kidney.
- Yield: This recipe makes about 12 cups of Chili con Carne, with variations depending on how big your onion is and what size roast you buy (I measured the yield after cooking a 4-pound roast). It's enough for 8 hearty servings, 1 ½ cups each.
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.