13 Must-Make Slow Cooker Chili Recipes, From Classic to Vegan
The slow cooker excels at many things, but I’d argue that the very best thing you can make in your slow cooker is chili. Chili is just one of those foods that tastes best with the kind of slow, steady simmer that a slow cooker is known for. The process helps the flavors meld so every bite has more depth. Add to that the fact that it’s ridiculously easy and makes your whole house smell amazing, using your slow cooker to make chili is a no-brainer. In fact, a friend of mine owns a slow cooker for the sole purpose of making chili — and his dish is famous among family and friends.
1. Simple & Tasty Slow Cooker Chili
This classic beef and bean chili is so simple and satisfying that it’s sure to become a go-to. Topping bowls with corn chips gives you a hearty bowl with unbeatable crunch and flavor.
Get the recipe: How to Cook Simple & Tasty Slow Cooker Chili
2. Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Though this tomato-free chili has canned green chilis in it, the results are quite mild. If you’d like to add more heat, toss in some fresh jalapeños, a few generous pinches of cayenne, or a couple shakes of hot sauce.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
3. Slow Cooker Turkey Sweet Potato Chili
Sweet potatoes lend mild sweetness to this turkey chili, offset the heat, and help thicken it, too. This is a colorful chili that’s extra feel-good.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Turkey Sweet Potato Chili
4. Slow Cooker Chili Verde
If you’re not familiar with chili verde, it is a pork-based version that’s simmered with green chiles and tomatillos (the fruit that looks like little paper-covered green tomatoes). Also called Colorado or Denver Green Chili, this stew gets its green hue from two types of green chiles — jalapeño and poblano.
Get the recipe: How to Make Slow Cooker Chili Verde
5. Slow Cooker Vegan Lentil Chili
Lentils aren’t the most common ingredient in chili but they add so much earthy, meaty flavor to the pot that they’re the perfect candidate for a vegan version. To cut down on prep time, opt for pre-cut butternut squash.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Vegan Lentil Chili
6. Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili
The secret to this black bean chili is unsweetened cocoa powder. It may sound strange, but a couple of tablespoons give the dish lots of depth and flavor, which isn’t always easy to get in a vegetarian chili.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili
7. 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
This simple chicken chili relies on a bag of frozen peppers and onions instead of calling for chopping up a bunch of vegetables. Serve it with shredded cheese, chopped scallions, and your favorite hot sauce.
Get the recipe: 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
8. Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
A bag of frozen corn gives this meatless chili a nice pop of color and balances the heat from the poblano pepper. While the recipe calls for two types of beans for texture and flavor, you can easily just opt for one if you prefer.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
9. Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili
For those unfamiliar with Cincinnati chili, the concept might be a bit confusing — spaghetti and chili? However, if you think of it kind of like a meat sauce, then the pasta totally makes sense.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili
10. Slow Cooker Vegan Chili with Sweet Potatoes, Lentils, and Kale
While the pickled red onions are technically an optional garnish for this vegan chili, do make them if you have the time. They are fast to make and their bright acidity is the perfect counterpart to the slow-simmered chili.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Vegan Chili with Sweet Potatoes, Lentils, and Kale
11. 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
When buying ground turkey for chili, opt for a mix of white and dark meat or a package that is 85% lean. This will ensure the meat doesn’t dry out in the slow cooker and it will lend plenty of flavor.
Get the recipe: 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
12. 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
If you don’t have ancho chili powder in your spice cabinet, it’s worth seeking out. Here it adds smoky richness to the vegetarian chili and pairs so well with the black beans and chickpeas.
Get the recipe: 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
13. Slow Cooker Chili Mac and Cheese
When you can’t decide between chili and mac and cheese, chili mac is your answer. This one is full of meat and beans, tender pasta, and of course, lots of gooey, melted cheese.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Chili Mac and Cheese