Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne

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Learn how to make easy, delicious Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne for a comfort food dinner. Including bacon, beef chuck roast, tomatoes, and beans, this stew recipe is overflowing with savory flavor (and practically prepares itself!).

Two bowls of chili con carne with all the toppings.


 

When it comes to slow cookers, it’s easy to take shortcuts and sacrifice flavor for convenience. Those buzzy “dump dinners” are popular for a reason: they’re a cinch to pull together.

However, nearly every time I try one, the flavor after I “set and forget” leaves something to be desired. This Slow Cooker Chili con Carne recipe is delicious proof that a few prep steps (frying bacon, then searing the beef in those drippings) and savvy ingredient selections (smoky fire-roasted tomatoes) amp up the chili recipe to blue ribbon-worthy territory.

A little TLC goes a long way, this homemade chili recipe is ready to simmer as you go about your day. Come dinnertime, you’ll be able to savor the fruits (okay, the beef and bean stew recipe!) of your labor.

Once you’ve mastered my classic Slow Cooker Chili con Carne recipe, don’t miss my leftover remixes and ideas to remix your next chili dinner with turkey, chicken, hot dogs, venison, pasta, or sweet potatoes.

Recipe ingredients

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • 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 substitute ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper or omit it entirely for a milder finished product.
  • 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. You can also substitute beef stew meat.
  • Canned tomatoes: I love the flavor of fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles, but you can substitute regular canned tomatoes and add one 4-ounce can of diced green chilies. Rotel tomatoes are great, too.
  • Kidney beans: Or one 15-ounce can any variety of canned bean you prefer. If desired, substitute 1 ½ cups of cooked beans can be substituted for the 1 can (that’s about ½ cup dried beans before cooking). (See Recipe FAQs for an important note if you opt to swap in dried kidney beans.)

Step-by-step instructions

  1. 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.
A bowl of chili seasoning.
  1. In a Dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp. Transfer to a plate and crumble when cool. Reserve bacon fat for cooking beef and keep hot.
Cooking bacon in a dutch oven.
  1. Season each side of the beef steaks generously with salt and pepper. Working with one steak at a time, fry over medium-high heat in reserved bacon fat until well-browned on each side. 
Chunks of beef roast cooking in dutch oven.
  1. 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. 
Chunks of boneless beef roast cut up on a cutting board.
  1. Add onion to pan with bacon fat and beef juice. Stir until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
Cooking onions in a dutch oven.
  1. To the slow cooker, add the crumbled bacon, tomatoes with chiles, chicken broth or water, beans, garlic, and chili seasoning.
A slow cooker full of chili con carne.
  1. 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.
A slow cooker full of chili con carne.
  1. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, cilantro, and corn chips.
Two bowls of chili con carne with all the toppings.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 12 cups of Chili con Carne, with variations depending on how big your onion is and what size of beef roast you buy (I measured the yield after cooking a 4-pound roast). It’s enough for 8 generous servings, 1 ½ cups each.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: Cool within 2 hours, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days in advance. Reheat the full recipe on the stove over low heat to 165 degrees. Reheat small batches in the microwave.
  • Freezer: Cool cooked chili to below 40 degrees on an instant-read thermometer within 2 hours and place into airtight containers. Frozen chili will last 4 to 6 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • More toppings: Cheddar cheese, sour cream, and scallions are classics. You can also try diced avocado or heaping spoonfuls of guacamole, crispy cooked bacon, fresh cilantro, minced white onion, hot sauce, lime wedges, tortilla chips, corn chips (Fritos), or oyster crackers.
  • Chili seasoning: If you don’t want to make homemade chili seasoning, just use several tablespoons chili powder. If you have it, ancho chili powder adds extra smoky flavor.
  • Favorite sides for chili: Enjoy a spicy-hot bowl of Chili con Carne with classic Cornbread, Soft Dinner Rolls, or No-Knead Bread. If you prefer to make cornbread from a box or buy a loaf of bread from the store, that’s fine too! Round out your menu with a simple garden salad.
  • Chili Cheese Burrito: Put leftover chili to work in this easy Chili Cheese Burrito. Just fold up leftover chili with cooked rice and shredded cheese, then toast in a dry skillet.
  • Classic Beef Chili: This easy ground Beef Chili recipe tastes just like the one mom used to make! It’s also easy to customize with your own special additions if you want to.
  • Venison Chili: If you’re lucky enough to have some ground venison in your freezer, this Venison Chili recipe is the one you’ll want to make all winter long.
  • Turkey Chili: This delicious Turkey Chili recipe is made with ground turkey, so it’s a little bit lighter than the standard beef version. It’s full of vegetables and classic spices and it’s ready for all your favorite healthful toppings like diced avocado, green onions, and fresh cilantro.
  • Hot Dog Chili: Make a batch of Hot Dog Chili to spoon over Chili Dogs for the ultimate tailgate recipe! It’s perfect for any game day celebration.
  • Sweet Potato Chili: This hearty vegan Sweet Potato Chili is loaded with black beans, vegetables, and all the classic spices. Like all chilis, it freezes well and makes a great meal prep option.
  • Cincinnati Chili: Made famous by Skyline Chili in Ohio, this Cincinnati Chili recipe is full of secret ingredients and served on spaghetti with lots of toppings like shredded cheese, raw onions, and kidney beans. Which “way” do you want yours?
  • White Chicken Chili: When the temperature drops, slow cooker White Chicken Chili is the ultimate comfort food. Tender chunks of chicken simmering in a creamy broth studded with white beans, green chiles, and corn make for a most satisfying meal.
  • White Turkey Chili: This is my favorite soup to make after Thanksgiving when leftovers are abundant. It’s hearty, creamy, and a refreshing way to enjoy leftover turkey all over again. To keep things easy, make White Turkey Chili right in your slow cooker.
  • Chili Mac: Made in just one pot in 25 minutes or less, this easy Chili Mac recipe is like a great bowl of chili in casserole form. It’s perfect for the busiest, hungriest weeknights.
A crockpot full of chili with toppings on a Chili Bar.
Chili con Carne is perfect for your next epic Chili Bar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute dried kidney beans for the canned ones in this recipe?

Kidney beans contain phytohemagglutinin, a type of lectin that is very toxic at high levels. To substitute dried kidney beans in this recipe, you must pre-soak dried kidney beans and hold them at a boil (212 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 10 minutes. This means you should never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker because you won’t know for sure if the slow cooker reached 212 degrees and held it for 10 minutes. If you opt for dried, please pre-cook; better to be safe than sorry.

What is chili powder made of?

The Tex-Mix chili powder blend you use in this recipe is made of a variety of spices including ground cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. If you shop at an international food market and buy “chili powder,” sometimes this is just straight-up ground dried red chili peppers (cayenne pepper). You should be able to tell by the color of the powder.

What does Chilli con Carne mean in English?

Chili con Carne means “chili with meat.” While the meat is required, the beans are not. Feel free to omit the can of kidney beans if you like (or add a second if that’s your style).

Is Chili con Carne a Mexican dish?

Chili con Carne has roots in Texas, not Mexico. Not only did it originate in the Southern state, but it has been Texas’ official state food since 1977.

Where is Chili con Carne from?

Chili con Carne was created in San Antonio, Texas in the 1800’s. It’s the epitome of Tex-Mex cuisine: an American-made recipe with significant Mexican influence. “Texas chili” is even one of the state foods there.

Favorite sides for chili

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Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne

Learn how to make easy, delicious Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne for a comfort food dinner. Including bacon, beef chuck roast, tomatoes, and beans, this stew recipe is overflowing with savory flavor (and practically prepares itself!).
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings (1 ½ cups each)
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Calories 617
4.80 from 24 votes

Ingredients 

For the chili seasoning:

For the chili:

To serve:

Instructions 

  • 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.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5 cupsCalories: 617kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 51gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 181mgSodium: 781mgPotassium: 1202mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 2507IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 131mgIron: 9mg
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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.

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Comments

  1. This turned out great! I actually used stew meat because that’s what I had on hand and I didn’t use any garlic because I’m allergic 😬🙄! I also used my pressure cooker on the stew setting for 1 hour and it came out perfect and was a big hit! I will definitely make this again!5 stars

    1. Hi Jennifer, yes. 8-10 hours on low. It “used” to be 8-10 hours on high, apparently my slow cooker was very old and tired? But since I’ve upgraded to a new one (just a basic model but it’s not 20 years old), it works a lot better. I’ve been trying to spot recipes that have bad directions which make no sense, and it looks like you found one. I’m so sorry about that! I’ll fix the recipe. Thank you! -Meggan

    2. Do you ever add ground beef as well and if so do you brown it in the bacon fat before like with the steaks?

  2. Made this today and was excellent. Really great depth of flavor from browning the meat and onions first. In the spirit adding flavor at every step, used the chicken stock to deglaze the pan before adding to the slow cooker. Also found that adding a squeeze of lime while serving brightens it up nicely after such a long cook.
    Great recipe. Thanks for posting.5 stars

  3. Prep Time: 5 Minutes LOL. Why is this number always so low? Anyway this is in the slowcooker and should be ready for the Niner victory tonight.

    1. Hi Jim, sorry about that! In theory the prep time is how long it takes to gather your ingredients and get them prepped (I am sure you know that). So some idiot (me) was like – the only prep here is chopping an onion, that only takes 5 minutes, hooray! When in reality the prep is also pulling spices out of the cupboard and measuring them out, opening cans, whatever. I’ll go through the motions and time it and put in the right number. Also, today is a tough call for me – born and raised in Wisconsin but been living in California wayyyyy too long. May the best team win! -Meggan

    2. That and cooking the bacon, searing the meat, sauteing the onions :-) I used Guinness instead of broth, a can of refried beans, a can of black beans and added a Jalapeno, a can of hot diced green chilies and a couple of Red bell Peppers. This recipe is all a 4 quart slow cooker can handle. Thanks for the recipe!

    3. See that stuff is not part of the prep time by my definition (prep time is whatever you do before you begin the recipe). That other stuff is part of the cook time. But maybe my definition is awful? Anyway I’m really sorry for the confusion on that. Thanks for not ripping me a new one. I appreciate all your ideas and feedback! -Meggan

    1. Hi Jessica, I put it in the slow cooker. I noticed it didn’t say in the recipe card. I’ll update that right away. Sorry about that! -Meggan

  4. just tried the recipe and from now on this will be the only one for chili con carne I will ever use! Thank you so much! 5 stars

    1. Thank you Margot! I’m so happy to hear that! I love the recipe. I’m sure there are a million Chili Con Carne recipes out there, so the fact that you trusted me and gave my recipe a shot means so much. And then you even liked it!! Makes my day! Take care and thank you again. :D -Meggan

    1. Hi Ally, I think it would be a vast improvement over chicken broth! I’m going to make it that way myself to try it out and see how amazing it is, and then I’m going to update the post with all the info. :) Thank you! -Meggan

  5. Hi Meggan, I am planning on making this today with Venison roast. I was thinking about smoking the roast on the traeger (taking it off before it’s fully cooked) and then put it in the crockpot with ingredients. Any helpful tips before I get started? 

  6. We made this today and it was excellent. We did make a few tiny changes and additions. We used beef stock, and we added a small can of diced Anaheim chilies, an ancho chili reconstituted and diced , and a shot of Kracken spiced rum. We also only added a tbsp of chili powder rather than a 1/4 c.

    It cooked in the slow cooker all day and by this evening the whole house smelled fantastic! Wonderful recipe!5 stars

    1. Hi Misty, yes! Depending on how small the pieces of meat are (if you buy them pre-cut), try to brown them in the pan without cooking them all the way through (so it will likely take less time than doing the steaks). This is just to try to prevent the meat from overcooking. But I think you’ll be fine… stew meat is meant to be stewed! Thanks.

    1. Hi Jon! If you know Kenji from Serious Eats or have ever heard of his book The Food Lab, he talks about this sometimes. So the reason why I use chicken broth instead of beef broth is “because Kenji says so.” However, the reason HE says so is because, and I’m paraphrasing his book The Food Lab: “There is very little beef in canned beef broth. Food manufacturers are lazy and concerned about their bottom line… instead of simmering veal and beef bones, they use natural and artificial flavorings. According to the USDA’s guidelines, beef or pork broth only has to have 0.007 ounces beef protein present for every ounce of water. So beef broth doesn’t taste much like beef. Their flavor, if any, is enhanced with yeast and vegetable extracts. Chicken broth will have more/better flavor overall because it is cheaper to make.” I hope this is helpful! Here’s another article I found online which discusses this and also reference’s Kenji’s info on the subject. https://lifehacker.com/use-store-bought-chicken-broth-instead-of-beef-broth-fo-1755022375 Thanks for the question!

    2. Thanks so much for the insight and resource! Made this last night for a group and it was a big hit. Thanks again!!5 stars

  7. Absolutely fantastic recipe!!! I live in Madison WI and it was so nice to see one of our own put out a simply delicious, fulfilling and chili hankering ultimate dream. You have shifted the cosmos and satisfied the chili gods your unique and wonderful way! 

  8. Maddy, I apologize for that comment. I meant it’s (whole 30) another difficult diet to adhere to, like South Beach, et al…. As for a bean sub, I have no idea. Research phytic acid. It’s not all bad.

    1. Hi Maddy, hooray for the Whole30! I’m all about it. Just leave the beans out, don’t add anything else instead. You’ll be just fine. The beans are already semi-optional here anyway…. so just omit. And good luck! You’re going to feel amazing! #tigerblood

  9. D’aww! So cute! This tutorial includes so many great tips for making chili con carne. I love how you’ve taken such effort to maximize the flavor in the dish. One of my favorite cozy winter foods. <3 5 stars

  10. I Followed this receipe, with all fresh ingredients grown at home. Omg, shame on me for not setting some to the side to freeze as Dave mentioned. Its all gone!5 stars

    1. Hi Linda, yes, about 1 cup, possibly a little more. I need to make this again so I can measure it exactly. Thanks!

    2. Thanks, Megan.

      I should have asked before, but what color bell pepper is typical?

      Thanks!

      Lauren

    3. Hi Lauren! I think that is totally a personal preference. I would say green is typical because that’s what my mom ALWAYS used growing up, but I tend to veer towards red peppers because they are a little sweeter and my husband won’t notice them (he apparently doesn’t like bell peppers). Whatever you want to do is fine! Thanks.

  11. Another fantastic way to use chuck Roast ( I like to start mine on a grill using natural lump charcoal ) Thanks and keep up the great work its appreciated5 stars

    1. Thank you so much Michael! I am planning to make this recipe again soon and would love to start it on the grill as you suggested. I’m more of a propane girl myself, but nobody is perfect. :) Thank you so much for your comment and have a great day!

    1. Really! But! We’re talking about the Americanized chili powder blend that you buy at the grocery store, no just 1/4 cup cayenne pepper. In case that makes a difference to you. If I buy chili powder at an international foods market, it’s just ground up hot peppers and then NO, do not use 1/4 cup of that. Which BTW I’ve tried because I didn’t understand the difference. But if we’re talking about the regular blend of chili powder that is somewhat dark brown in color, yes 1/4 cup. BUT, another but, if you don’t like spicy food (as my mom doesn’t), then maybe just 1 tablespoon. But yes, I do regularly do 1/4 cup of chili powder in all of my chilis.

  12. Oh YUM! How did I miss this one? What a great twist on a burrito! Gotta try this one. I generally make 16 quarts of chili at a time and freeze half of it because it does not take long to disappear. :-)5 stars

    1. Hi Terri! The bacon goes in the slow cooker with everything else! I must have a typo where that’s not specified. Sorry for the confusion. Just add it and get all the bacon-flavor-love in your chili. Thanks!