Nothing says comfort food like a bowl of warm, thick, beefy chili. Loaded with lots of vegetables, beef, and the kicker, a hint of brown sugar and barbecue sauce! So grab a spoon and dig in!
A good, hearty chili should be a staple in your recipe rotation. So I was excited to finally have a chili recipe that would be my go-to! It’s everything a good chili should be; it’s thick, meaty, full of texture, and bursting with flavor. We enjoy it so much; I have even made this chili to take camping. We simply reheat it over the campfire. To be honest, I think it tasted even better, but doesn’t everything taste better cooked over a campfire!
One of the crucial ingredients in this recipe is the meat. If you want to make it without meat, no shame; it will still be amazing. But if you’re going to use meat, make it count. Nobody wants to gnaw on a chewy, tough piece of meat. I’ve bought several different cuts, usually based on what’s available and what looks good. For example, I have bought store-cut stir fry or stew beef. Other times I have purchased a steak and cut it up myself. You could even mix things up and use pork sausage or chicken.
If you are using beef, whatever cut you use, give it a quick sear in a pan. Your goal is not to cook it through but to sear the outside to seal in the juices. Strictly speaking, meat doesn’t need to be seared before it’s added to the slow cooker, but it’s a step I find worth the effort. The caramelized surface of the meat will lend a rich flavor to the finished dish. And meat dredged in flour before searing will add body to the sauce. High temperatures are needed to get a truly caramelized, deep-brown sear on the surface of the meat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and set the pan over high heat. Add the meat to the hot pan and allow it to sear for a minute, check and flip if caramelized and brown. Repeat on the opposite side.
The vegetables should all be chopped evenly, so they cook evenly. Be sure not to skip rinsing your beans before you add them. Rinsing the beans thoroughly will help them have a less unpleasant effect on your digestive tract (aka gas)…You’re welcome!
Any brand of barbecue sauce will work, but I prefer a nice smoky sauce. It complements the other flavors perfectly!
Cooking times: To give you an idea of my cooking times, I would cook the chili for 8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high with my standard crockpot. With my Instant Pot, I use the slow cook setting, then set it to the high heat setting and cook for at least 8 hours. The low setting just doesn’t cook at a high enough temperature, and the vegetables don’t always get tender enough. Also, with the Instant Pot, I remove the lid for the last hour and let some of the moisture evaporate as it finishes cooking, so the chili is less watery. You will need to adjust your heat settings and cook times based on your equipment.
Slow Cooker Chili
- Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, Crock Pot
- 1 tablespoon oil, for searing meat
- 1-2 tablespoons flour, for searing meat
- 1 pound beef, cut up into bite-size pieces
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 16 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 16 ounce can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 28 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 can beef broth
- 4 tablespoons barbecue sauce, any kind
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt, (more to taste)
- sour cream
- green onions
- Add the cut-up meat and 1 to 2 tablespoons flour to a sealable bag and shake to coat. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Place floured meat in skillet. Cooking for about 1 minute, then flip to sear the other side, just browning or lightly searing the outside of the meat (you do not want to cook it all the way through).
- Transfer the meat to a slow cooker, crockpot, or Instant Pot. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours. The high or low setting and cook time will depend on your cooker. **See notes
- Ladle chili into bowls with a side of rice or rustic bread and top with sour cream and green onions.