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Slow Cooker Chili

By Sarah DiGregorio

YIELD 6 to 8 servings

TIME 4 hours, 30 minutes

A great chili should be richly spiced, with layers of deep, savory flavor. Here, that big flavor comes from the usual contenders, but also from the unexpected additions of unsweetened cocoa, soy sauce and Worcestershire, which provide complexity. This recipe makes a thick, comforting chili that can be prepared in a slow cooker or in a Dutch oven on the stovetop. Chili is perhaps the ideal slow-cooker dish because its flavor improves with a long, slow

simmer. This makes a big batch, perfect for a cold-weather get-together, but if you’re making it for a smaller group, the leftovers freeze well.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow or red onion, finely


Kosher salt

2 pounds ground beef, 80 percent

lean, 20 percent fat

8 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 teaspoons chipotle powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons mustard powder

2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika

. teaspoon cayenne powder

. teaspoon ground cinnamon

. teaspoon ground cloves

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) pilsner beer,

such as Modelo Especial

1 (14-ounce) can diced or crushed

tomatoes in juice

. cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup or dark

brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons beef stock bouillon

paste, such as Better Than Bouillon

1 . teaspoons unsweetened cocoa


2 (14-ounce) cans kidney beans,

drained and rinsed

2 (14-ounce) cans pinto beans,

drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce, grated sharp Cheddar,

sliced scallions, sour cream and

crushed tortilla chips, for serving


Step 1

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion,

season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is

softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Increase the heat to

medium-high, add the beef and garlic, season with salt and cook,

breaking the beef into crumbles with a spatula, until the beef has lost

its pink color, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until

slightly darkened and caramelized, about 1 minute. Stir in all the

spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beer and stir,

scraping the bottom of the pan.

Step 2

Transfer the beef mixture into a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. Stir in the

tomatoes, vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, beef bouillon paste, cocoa,

beans and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook on low for at least 4 hours

and up to 6 hours. (The chili can hold well on warm for an additional 2


Step 3

When ready to serve, stir in the Worcestershire sauce. If the chili is

too thick, stir in a bit of water until the texture is to your liking. Season

to taste with salt. Serve in bowls and pass the toppings at the table

You can also cook the chili in a Dutch oven on your stovetop in about

1 hour. In step 2, add 1 cup water instead of 1/2 cup and let the

mixture come to a simmer over medium-high. (Because the cooking

liquid reduces further on the stovetop, this method starts with more

water.) Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the meat is

tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

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