Spicy Slow Cooker Beef Chili Recipe

A bowl of hot chili, made even warmer by the spicy peppers in the mix, is enough to heat things up no matter how cold it is outside. Pair this spicy chili with a dollop of cool sour cream and some crisp tortilla chips for garnishing, and you'll be serving up a hearty weeknight meal no one will be able to stop eating.


"Chili is one of my favorite dishes," recipe developer Katie Rosenhouse says, "but stirring a steaming pot at the end of a workday is just not on my list of things I enjoy doing, even as someone who loves to cook more than almost anything else. Making chili in a slow cooker takes all the work out of the equation, meaning I can have a hot, impressive dinner on the table any night of the week without stressing about getting it ready in time." 

As for the preparation, after quickly sautéing onions, green pepper, garlic, and beef in a skillet, all the ingredients for the chili are combined in the slow cooker, covered, and set to cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 5 to 6. You can decide which depending on what works better for your schedule. It doesn't get easier than that.


Gather the ingredients for this spicy slow cooker beef chili

If you think you need a ton of ingredients, time, and expertise to make a stellar pot of chili, think again. "This chili is so delicious, and the ingredient list is incredibly short," Rosenhouse says. "Onion, green bell pepper, and garlic provide an aromatic base, with ground beef, canned beans, tomatoes, beef broth, and some seasonings to round out the list." Seasonings we use here for the beef chili include chile powder for heat, smoked paprika for a sweet warmth, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and ground cumin for earthiness. If you're missing one of those, don't sweat it (unless that something is salt, then please get to the market quick). 


While beef broth helps highlight the beef flavor of the chili, vegetable stock or chicken broth can be used in its place if needed. Jalapeños and chipotles in adobo sauce add a rich heat, but you can tone down or amp up the spiciness depending on who you're serving.

Whatever you do, don't skimp on the toppings. Great chili becomes epic when everyone can top their own with a variety of great add-ons like sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced jalapeños, fresh cilantro, and/or tortilla chips. It's a budget-friendly crowd-pleaser that's guaranteed to get added to your weekly rotation.

Step 1: Heat the oil

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.

Step 2: Cook onion and green pepper

Add onion and green pepper; cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

Step 3: Add garlic

Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.

Step 4: Transfer to slow cooker

Transfer to a 5-quart slow cooker.

Step 5: Brown the beef

Add ground beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain excess fat.

Step 6: Transfer beef to slow cooker

Transfer beef to the slow cooker.

Step 7: Add remaining ingredients

Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine.

Step 8: Cover and cook

Cover and cook on the high setting for 3 to 4 hours, or low setting 5 to 6 hours.

Step 9: Serve hot

Serve hot with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced jalapeños, fresh cilantro, and/or tortilla chips, as desired.

Can slow cooker beef chili be made on the stovetop?

Using a slow cooker is a great way to have dinner ready to go with just a few minutes of prep in the morning, but if you decided on making this chili late in the day, you're in luck, as it can also be made on the stovetop. Keep the process almost the same: Swap the large pan for a Dutch oven, and cook the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and beef together over medium-high heat until the beef is browned, stirring often. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. You can adjust the thickness by uncovering the chili during cooking to eliminate excess moisture, or by adding more broth if needed. 


Serve hot, with a bevy of garnishes alongside. 

Want to make this chili ahead and keep it warm? The finished chili can be kept in a slow cooker on the warm setting for up to 2 hours before needing to be refrigerated. 

Can I double this slow cooker beef chili recipe?

Depending on the size of your slow cooker, you can increase the quantity of this spicy beef chili to feed a crowd (and feed a crowd it will!). While this recipe serves four, they're generous servings that are sure to leave everyone pleasantly full. When increasing the size of the recipe, keep the process of the chili the same. Just double (or triple) the ingredients and keep in mind that the slow cooker should be no more than 3/4 of the way full for a good result. Increase the cooking time if needed based on the size of the batch. 


When increasing the ingredients, note that you might want to tone down your spices, jalapeños, and chipotles if serving the whole family. Don't worry, you can always adjust the seasoning at the end of cooking if needed to increase the level of spiciness. If you love spicy chili, then disregard.

How do I store and reheat leftover beef chili?

Keep in mind that this spicy beef chili can benefit from being made in advance. Rosenhouse says, "The best part of making chili ahead is that it only gets better as it sits, especially if left refrigerated overnight. The flavors meld and deepen, and you won't believe the difference a little rest can make."


If you're following her lead, make and refrigerate the chili overnight, then reheat in the slow cooker or on the stovetop until hot throughout before serving. This has the added benefit of helping you get ahead of the week with very little additional effort.

When it comes to leftovers, store the beef chili in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before serving if frozen. Then reheat in the slow cooker, or on the stovetop until hot throughout, and serve with toppings as directed. 

How can I make this beef chili even spicier?

While this chili is already somewhat spicy due to the chipotles en adobo and chopped jalapeños, it's still on the moderate end of the incendiary scale. If you want a quick and easy way to boost the heat level that'll even reduce your prep work, you can always leave the seeds in when you chop the jalapeños because the membranes that surround them contain a higher concentration of capsaicin than any other part of the pepper. Yet another way to ensure hotter chili using just the ingredients you have on hand is to go ahead and toss in the entire can of chipotles.


Of course, you can always upgrade the chili with a few secret ingredients. A sprinkling of cayenne pepper or a splash of Tabasco sauce would add some spice without altering the flavor too much, but a squirt of sriracha or a fruity habanero sauce would lend a little sweetness in addition to the heat. Finally, you can top the chili with some super-spicy sliced peppers — Rosenhouse suggests using jalapeños, but serranos would make the chili even more fiery, while diced ghost peppers would make for a real blow-your-eyebrows-off kind of garnish.

How can I thicken this beef chili?

If your chili is too thin and looks more like a soup than a stew, one way to cook off some of the excess liquid is to just keep simmering — the longer it heats, the thicker it'll get. If you're short on time, however, you have several other options available. Cornstarch, which is often used to turn thicken up gravies and sauces, can have a similar effect on your chili, although you'll need to dissolve it in an equal amount of water before you stir it in (a tablespoon of each should do). You can also try this same trick using fine-ground cornmeal or even crushed tortilla chips, although in this case there's no need to add water. With any of these additions, about 10 minutes more cooking time should see your chili thicken up nicely. You could also add any of these thickeners before you freeze leftovers to forestall the frozen chili from becoming watery as it thaws.


The beans in this chili can also be used as a thickener. There are two ways you can go about this. The first is to scoop out about half and then mash them before mixing them back into the chili. The other would be to open a new can of beans, drain it, and puree the entire thing. Stir the puree into the pot, then cook the chili for a few minutes more, until it's as thick as you'd like.

What should I serve with this spicy beef chili?

This spicy beef chili is practically a one-pot meal on its own as it's packed with meat, vegetables, and starchy beans, but it will be even better with a side of crunchy tortilla chips. And, as long as you've got the chips out, you might as well make some homemade pico de gallo to accompany them, right? A scoop of this salsa would be great as a chili topper, too. For a heartier meal, you could pair the chili with a pan of ultimate chicken nachos or perhaps some warm elote corn dip.


Of course, tortilla chips aren't the only choice to accompany your spicy beef chili. You could also spoon it over a bed of steamed white rice (or brown rice, if you prefer). Do you know what the best thing is about serving your chili with rice? It means that you may have leftovers to put to good use in our tres leches-inspired rice pudding, which would be an excellent dessert for your meal. If you'd like a boozy beverage to accompany your spicy chili, consider a classic clamato michelada or a perfect margarita.

What are some other chili recipes I should try?

If you're looking for another beef-based chili, try an extra-meaty chorizo and beef chili con carne. Not only does it have two kinds of meat, but it ups the ante with a triple dose of beans: black, kidney, and pinto. While it's not quite as fiery, this is easily remedied by using any (or all) of the tips listed above for spicing up your chili.


Looking for something a bit lighter? Spicy slow cooker turkey chili is sure to fit the bill. It brings the heat with canned green chiles and chipotles and features both black and kidney beans. Unusual for a chili, though, it's also made with heart-healthy sweet potatoes. These not only punch up the nutrients but help to temper some of the heat with their sweet starchiness.

Of course, you could also go meat-free with 3-bean vegetarian chili. The three beans, in this case, are black, kidney, and refried, which are pre-mashed pinto beans that help make for a thicker chili. This produce-packed dish also includes corn, onions, poblano peppers, and fire-roasted tomatoes, while it gets plenty of flavor from lime juice, powdered ancho and chipotle peppers, and smoked paprika. As long as you avoid topping the chili with cheese or sour cream, it isn't just vegetarian but fully vegan.


Spicy Slow Cooker Beef Chili Recipe

5 (25 ratings)

Pair this spicy chili with a buffet of garnishes, and you'll be serving up a hearty weeknight meal no one will be able to stop eating.

Prep Time
Cook Time
spicy chili with sour cream topping in bowl
Total time: 3 hours, 15 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded & diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • ½ (7-ounce) can chipotles in adobo sauce

Optional Ingredients

  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Tortilla chips


  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and green pepper; cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  3. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Transfer to a 5-quart slow cooker.
  5. Add ground beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain excess fat.
  6. Transfer beef to the slow cooker.
  7. Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine.
  8. Cover and cook on the high setting for 3 to 4 hours, or low setting 5 to 6 hours.
  9. Serve hot with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced jalapeños, fresh cilantro, and/or tortilla chips, as desired.
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