This slow cooker chilli con carne is a Mexican/ South West classic. A simple from scratch homemade chilli that everyone will love. Double the amount for batch cooking because chilli is always better the next day.
This chilli con carne is everything you want a slow cooker mince chilli to be. It's mildly spicy, but you can make it really spicy if you want. And it's chunky and thick without being overloaded with beans.
- ⭐️ Why You'll Love This Recipe
- 🧾 Ingredients for slow cooker chilli
- 📖 Substitutions & Variations
- Customising spice mix for mild or spicy chilli
- 👩🏻🍳 Step By Step
- 💭 Chilli con carne without browning the mince
- The best chilli toppings
- 🍯 How to freeze leftover chilli con carne
- The BEST Easy Slow Cooker Chilli Con Carne
⭐️ Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's an easy slow cooker chilli that you don't have to constantly stir and check on.
- This mince chilli is great for batch cooking. It freezes really well and the leftovers always taste better.
- It's amazing for feeding a crowd on a small budget.
🧾 Ingredients for slow cooker chilli
- mince- the lower the fat content the more the mince will cost. So, if you use a higher fat content be sure to drain off any extra fat before adding to the slow cooker. You can also use mince turkey or chicken in this recipe.
- Beans- you can use kidney beans, black beans and/ or barlotti beans. I've used these mixed beans in tomato sauce. If you're using regular tinned beans be sure to rinse them first.
- Celery- you can also add in some carrots if you like.
- Cocoa powder- you can use cocoa powder, a square of dark chocolate (at least 70%) or a pinch of cinnamon. This really helps to balance out the spice and warm up the flavours.
- Chilli powder- add in more or less depending on how spicy you want your chilli to be.
- Cumin- brings the classic smokiness.
- Smoked paprika- brings a bit more spice and smokiness.
See recipe card for quantities.
📖 Substitutions & Variations
This easy chilli is already pretty healthy, but you can make a few variations to make it, even more, health friendly.
- Lower fat - use mince (ground) turkey or chicken
- Vegetarian - skip the meat and use a beef substitute or use bell peppers and extra beans
- Extra vegetables - to get extra veggies in this chilli, add diced carrots, sweet corn, and diced bell peppers.
Customising spice mix for mild or spicy chilli
- If you'd like your chilli to be on the spicy side then add in some extra chilli powder and some red pepper flakes.
- And please don't skip the dark chocolate/ cinnamon/ cocoa powder recommendation. It's a classic Mayan combination to pair spicy with cocoa powder. Be sure that the dark chocolate is 70% cocoa solids, otherwise, it will be too sweet.
- I've tested this chilli with all three of the above suggestions and although I love them all, I think cocoa powder has the best overall effect of bringing out the spice and smokiness of the chilli while still being very subtle.
- A note on seasoning- Every recipe will require salt. I do not specify the amount because the seasoning is very subjective to taste, tolerance, and diet. The best way to use salt is to start early in the cooking process and taste and layer as you cook and as the dish develops.
👩🏻🍳 Step By Step
1 & 2
I know this chilli is made in a slow cooker and browning the mince may feel like an unnecessary step but it really does help add to the overall recipe. If you really need to skip it then there are notes below.
- Heat a teaspoon of oil in a nonstick frying pan and brown the beef. Add in the diced celery, chopped onion, and minced garlic.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
3 & 4
- Add the beef mince and everything in the pan to the bowl of your slow cooker.
- Pour in the chopped tomatoes, beans, tomato purèe (paste), and add the spices. Pour in the beef stock and turn the slow cooker to low. Cook for 7-8 hours until the chilli is thick.
Hint: you can use water, vegetable or chicken stock instead of beef broth if you prefer.
💭 Chilli con carne without browning the mince
This chilli can absolutely be made without browning the beef if you prefer to skip that step.
To do this just add all the ingredients to the bowl of the slow cooker and cook on medium for 8 hours. You will lose some of the flavour that develops from browning the mince but you can add a tablespoon or two of Worcestershire sauce to add that rich umami flavour back in.
💡Add a tablespoon or two of Worcestershire sauce to add some extra umami flavour and richness to this chilli.
The best chilli toppings
So many options exist for topping your chilli. Here are a few of my favourites-
- shredded cheddar cheese
- fresh coriander
- tortilla chips
- sour cream or Greek yogurt
- fresh lime wedges
🍯 How to freeze leftover chilli con carne
- First, make sure that you cool your chilli completely before placing in the fridge or freezer.
- Place cooled chilli in a freezer safe bag or container.
- Label it clearly and place in the fridge for up to 3 days or the fridge for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove top or in the microwave.
Absolutely you can. This will be great news to anyone who wants to skip the beginning step of browning the mince first before placing it in the slow cooker.
If you think your chilli may be on the thin side, you can remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking time to let some of the liquid evaporate, or you can add in some extra tomato purèe to thicken it up.
The BEST Easy Slow Cooker Chilli Con Carne
- 500 g 5% fat mince beef, ground beef *see notes
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes *see notes
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 400 g tin mixed beans in chilli sauce *see notes
- 200 ml beef stock, made using a stock cube or a stock pot
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder or 1 small square of dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- If browning the beef, heat a skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot brown the meat, onions and garlic in the skillet for about 10 minutes.
- Once the beef is browned and the onions are soft add them to the bowl of your slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5 hours.
- When the chilli is cooked, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with rice, avocado, tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream.
- The lower the fat the more you will pay for the mince. Using higher fat will release more liquid and will benefit from being browned first. Drain off any excess fat before adding to your slow cooker.
- You can use passata in place of chopped tomatoes. The texture will be smoother, but thinner.
- If you’re using a regular tin of beans, rinse them first.