"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
October 7, 2014
Classic Slow Cooker Chili
by Melanie Gunnell

Based on the fact that we’ve finally dropped out of the 90′s and into the 60′s, I’m declaring it chili season.

Chili is one of those things I just don’t spend the entire year longing for (unlike pumpkin, which I enjoy all the livelong year but don’t necessarily shout from the rooftops for fear of ending lifelong friendships; apparently the rules of when pumpkin can be enjoyed is a very emotional and monumental issue so I end up eating my pumpkin chocolate chip bread on the down low in July, which totally works for me). 

The only exception to my self-imposed chili standard is this creamy white version which is acceptable and requested year round. Our cloudy, slightly blustery weather that hints of cooler fronts to come has me craving chili big time.

This slow cooker chili could not be easier. A quick little session in the skillet to cook the meat and develop awesome flavor and into the slow cooker it goes while you do heel kicks in anticipation of getting a million things done while dinner cooks.

There are no secret ingredients or crazy methods; the warm spices and hearty beef and beans combine into the most comforting perfect chili ever. You can step up the spiciness by adding jalapenos (fresh or jarred) or upping the chili powder. As is, it’s low on start-your-mouth-on-fire and big on flavor.

Admittedly, chili doesn’t rank in my kids’ top 10 meals of all time, but put a big bowl of this in front of them topped with plenty of sour cream and cheddar cheese while they’re glued to a football game with their dad and you might pass out when they ask for seconds.

Chili and football are a pretty winning combination around here — Brian would say it’s his favorite time of the year and I’m pretty sure if you polled the four boys, they’d agree. Like father like sons.

Cam and I? We try to watch a bit of football here and there along with them but usually lose interest when no one will tell me what offsides means, which I ask at least 105 times each game, and we end up making cookies instead. Obviously no one’s complained about that arrangement yet. You could say it’s mutually beneficial for all.

Classic Slow Cooker Chili
Yield: Serves 6

This chili is also delicious with beef cubes (I use a chuck or sirloin roast and cut it into small pieces; you could also use the stew meat that comes already packaged into bite-size pieces).

If doing so, you don't need to cook it all the way through in the skillet. Just brown lightly and it will finish cooking in the slow cooker (the reason I cook the ground meat all the way through is so I can drain off the fat after it cooks instead of it accumulating in the slow cooker).

Also, if you want to increase the heat (as is, the chili isn't overly spicy), consider adding chopped jalapenos (fresh or from the jar) or additional chili powder.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced small

  • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey (see note above)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans light or dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained

For serving:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese

  • Sour cream


  1. In a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, bell peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir to combine. Cook for another minute or so.

  2. Add the ground beef or turkey, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces, until the ground beef or turkey is no longer pink, 5-6 minutes. Drain any excess grease.

  3. Scoop the mixture into a round 5-quart (or similar size) slow cooker. Stir in the brown sugar, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans.

  4. Cover and cook 8-9 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high. (The chili will thicken slightly the longer it stands after cooking.) Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.

  5. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and any other chili toppings you like.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from here after Erin G. (a lovely blog reader) forwarded it to me earlier this year

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About Melanie Gunnell

Melanie Gunnell is a food-loving, chocolate-obsessed mom who has a desperate need to share her favorite tried-and-true recipes with the world. In a past life she graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in public health, but for the past ten years, stay-at-home motherhood has been her job along with blogging-from-home for the past five.

She resides in the brilliantly cold tundra of Northern Minnesota with her husband and their brood of five children: four boys and one tiny, bossy girl. Dark chocolate (particularly the act of shoving chocolate chips in her mouth whilst hiding in the pantry) is her coping skill of choice for both the never-ending winters and the never-ending wrestling matches in her front room.


Calling(s): Primary pianist, CTR 6/7 Primary teacher, Activity Day leader

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