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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
- 8 slices bacon
- 1 (3 to 4 pound) boneless beef chuck roast or chuck pot roast
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 (10 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles undrained
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup chili powder or to taste
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Shredded cheese sour cream, cilantro, or scallions, for serving, optional
- 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.
- Meanwhile, cut beef into 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch thick steaks. Season each side generously with salt and pepper. Working with one large 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, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle chili powder, thyme, and coriander.
- 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 sour cream, cheese, scallions, and cilantro.
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.
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!
Thanks Merissa, so glad you liked it! – Meggan
8-10hours in HIGH? Do you mean LOW?
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
Do you ever add ground beef as well and if so do you brown it in the bacon fat before like with the steaks?
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.
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.
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
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!
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
Do you add the crumbled bacon to the slow cooker? Or is it to be used as a topping?
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
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!
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
How do you think it would be if you substituted a brown ale for the chicken broth?
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
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?
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!
Can you use stew meat instead of steaks?
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.
Any reason for using chicken broth instead of beef or vegetable (just curious)? Thanks for the recipe!
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!
Thanks so much for the insight and resource! Made this last night for a group and it was a big hit. Thanks again!!
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!
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.
I would love to make this tonight but I am on the whole 30, anything I can substitute the beans for?
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
Recipe looks super. I L-O-V-E the video. Well done kid.
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
How do u stem your bell pepper?
Hi Cortney! I usually cut the top off and pop out the stem. Then I cut around it to salvage the top part of the pepper and chop it up. I hope that helps! Thanks. There are a couple of photos in this post that might show you a little bit, but not the part about trimming around the stem: https://www.culinaryhill.com/chipotle-grilled-peppers-and-onions/
Good recipe but it’s not chili con carne. “Con Carni” translates to
Are you sure? The internet says “Con Carne” means WITH meat. http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/con%20carne
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!
How much is a serving? 1 cup?
Hi Linda, yes, about 1 cup, possibly a little more. I need to make this again so I can measure it exactly. Thanks!
I should have asked before, but what color bell pepper is typical?
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.
What amount is a serving? Thanks!
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 appreciated
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!
Really 1/4 CUP of chili powder???
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.
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. :-)
Hi Meggan, this is the second recipe I saw today for chili, making this tomorrow, looks amazing!!!
I just finished and it’s in slow cooker. what do I do with the crumbled bacon?
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!