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October 7, 2014
Melís Kitchen Cafe
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.


For serving:


  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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