Once Fall rolls around, soups, stews, and chili become something I look forward to making (and eating!). Like most soups, this chili is easy to make in the crockpot and is very flexible so you can tailor it to your tastes. I like super hot chili, but the rest of the family prefers a milder version, so this recipe is definitely mild, although you can add some extra heat with chipotle or chili sauce. Chili is one of my go-to, super-fast crock pot meals for when we have a busy night and need to come home to something already cooked. It’s also great if we are having guests for dinner on a weeknight.
To get started, chop one large onion. I like to use sweet vidalias because they are local and delicious, but any onion will work. Add 1 pound of ground turkey or beef (I use turkey) and 2 cups of kidney beans. I don’t pre-cook the meat, but if you prefer to cook it first, it will be just as good, if not more delicious.You can use canned beans or I like to make them from scratch and freeze them in ready to go portions. See my post on making beans from scratch in your crock pot if you are interested in this method. Usually I defrost the beans before adding to the chili, but have added them frozen as well and the chili turned out great.
Next, we need to add the main deal in chili – tomatoes. I previously used canned tomatoes but have read some things about canned tomatoes not being so great. If you have home-canned tomatoes, that would be the best option I think. I usually end up using a box of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce and adding some fresh tomatoes to go with it. You need about 6-8 cups of tomatoes and any mixture/variety will work – crushed, chopped, whole (broken up, fresh chopped, and I have even added a jar of salsa when short on tomatoes. The salsa gives it a peppery taste, which isn’t my all-time favorite, but still pretty good.
Then, we need the seasonings – chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and chipotle (this is the hot stuff – more than 1 tsp and my kids won’t touch the chili). If you want a milder chili, I would suggest leaving out the chipotle altogether. If you want to add some heat, add extra chipotle or even a few dashes of hot sauce or hot chili sauce.
Give it a stir.
Cover and cook on low all day – longer is better. Chili is also great the next day if you want to make it a day ahead.
We like to eat chili with corn bread or tortilla chips. And, if you like to add some toppings (and a few extra calories), top it with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and my favorite fresh chopped veges – onion, peppers (sweet or jalepeno if you want some kick), and cilantro.
- 1 lb. ground beef or turkey)
- 2 cups kidney beans (or pinto or black or combination)
- 1 large onion chopped
- 6-8 cups tomatoes (canned/boxed/fresh - chopped, crushed, whole)
- 2 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. chipotle
- 1 tsp. salt (more or less to taste)
- Add all ingredients to the crockpot.
- Cook on low at least 8 hours.
- Stir and serve.
- Delicious with corn bread or tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, peppers, jalapeños, and/or cilantro.
One of the great things about chili, and soups in general, is that you can customize them pretty easily. If you want a vegetarian chili, leave out the meat and add extra beans. Love onions or want it extra meaty, double up on the meat or add chunks of stew beef. Crock pot cooking is pretty close to foolproof in my opinion. The proportions aren’t all that important as much as adding the ingredients that you like. I think you could even leave out the chili spices if you didn’t care for them and you’d have more of an Italian flavored chili/stew. I like to experiment in the kitchen and am usually not afraid to throw in something different. The crock pot is pretty forgiving and that slow cooking makes just about everything taste good. 🙂