Smoky Slow-Cooker Chili

Superbowl Sunday is almost here. Everyone is planning parties and preparing drinks and snacks for the festivities. Even if you aren’t a football fan, who can resist all the fun and food?

My husband and I actually aren’t throwing or attending a Superbowl bash this year, but we are still using it as an excuse to eat some great food. We have plans for nachos, pulled pork, and this easy and delicious chili recipe. I have a feeling there may be some leftovers in our future!

I love this chili because it requires very little prep with fantastic results. It’s delicious enough for your Superbowl party yet easy enough for a weeknight meal since it’s made in a slow cooker. It has some spice but isn’t overwhelming, while the chipotles in adobo add just enough smokiness. If you still prefer a little less spice and smokiness, you can simply reduce the amount of chipotles in adobo you add to the chili. It’s totally customizable. I usually add whatever beans I happen to have on hand at the time and have even substituted crushed tomatoes for the diced. You can’t screw it up!

The only prep it requires is cooking the onions and garlic with the spices to bring out their flavors. Then you deglaze with the tomatoes to get all that goodness off the bottom of the pan. This only takes about 10 minutes and is worth the extra flavor it adds to the chili.


Look at that color from toasting the spices! It adds so much flavor, too.

Once you cook the onion, garlic, spices, and tomato, you pretty much just dump in the rest of the ingredients and that’s it! You can cook it on low for 8-9 hours, but I’m usually not that prepared, so I cook it on high for 5-6 hours. I stir it a couple of times while it cooks just to check on how it’s coming along.


Halfway through and starting to look good!

Once it’s done, let it rest for a bit and then top it with with all your favorite fixings and dig in. I can’t eat chili without cheese and sour cream, but this time we also added some Chili Cheese Fritos and sweet and spicy jalapenos, my newest obsession. I eat them on everything lately.

If you’re looking for an incredibly easy and delicious chili recipe for any night of the week, give this chili a try!


Smoky Slow-Cooker Chili

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Note: Cook’s Illustrated recommends using beef no leaner than 85% to avoid a dry, sandy texture


2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 medium onions, minced

6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

¼ cup chili powder

¼ cup tomato paste

1 tbsp ground cumin

½ tsp red pepper flakes


1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 (15.5-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp brown sugar, light or dark

2 - 4 tsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo

2 pounds ground beef


Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, chili powder, tomato paste, cumin, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook, stirring often until onions soften and begin to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits.

Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker. Add beans, tomato puree, soy sauce, oregano, brown sugar, and chipotles in adobo. Stir to combine.

Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and add to the slow-cooker, breaking up any large pieces.

Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or on high for 5-6 hours.

When chili is cooked, let it sit for 5 minutes so the fat can rise to the top. Carefully tilt the slow-cooker and skim off the oil with a spoon.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with your favorite add-ins.