Slow-Cooker Easy Three-Bean Chili with Ground Beef (or Not)

I’ve tried many, many variations on chili over the years. Super simple chili, chili with a gazillion ingredients, chili with “secret ingredients” like unsweetened cocoa or brewed coffee (both very good, actually). But this chili recipe is the one that’s been floating around on a piece of paper with the title of “THE Chili.” My guy took a bite of his version (with meat) and said, “This is it. You can stop at this one. It’s perfect.”

Slow-Cooker Easy Three-Bean Chili with Ground Beef (or Not)

The bonus is that it’s super-simple to throw together, and takes next to no work to cook.

It bubbles in the Crock Pot all day, simmering to dinnertime perfection. If you’re okay with the vegetarian version, it’s done when you get home. If you want the one dish two ways, just brown the ground beef, simmer some of the chili together with the meat for a bit, and dinner’s ready.


[box type=”info”] This chili freezes really well. I scoop leftovers into freezer bags, label, and stick in the freezer for super-easy future meals or even to top nachos. Double the recipe to ensure lots of extra – just make sure you’re using a big Crock Pot!


Print Recipe

Slow-Cooker Easy Three-Bean Chili with Ground Beef (or Not)

THE Chili recipe in our house. Three varieties of canned beans along with onions, green peppers, and fire-roasted tomatoes bubble with lots of great chili spices in the Crock Pot while you go about your day. A nice, healthy amount of ground beef goes into the carnivores' half. Chili two ways = a happy household!

Yield: 8 servings (4 vegetarian, 4 meat)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes


  • 2 15-ounce cans chili beans in sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 medium green peppers, chopped (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 20 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • For the meat half:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef


  1. Add all ingredients except the ground beef to the slow-cooker/Crock Pot. Stir. Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours.
  2. In a medium or large saucepan, brown the ground beef over medium heat with a little salt and pepper for flavor, if you wish. Drain off any fat. Add five cups of the chili to the browned ground beef. Stir, continuing the medium heat, and heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.
  3. Serve with assorted toppings such as sour cream, grated cheddar or jack cheese, fresh cilantro, or chopped green onions.

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12 Responses to “Slow-Cooker Easy Three-Bean Chili with Ground Beef (or Not)”

  1. Liz posted on March 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

    This sounds DELISH! I need to pick up some fire roasted tomatoes and give this a try~

  2. Pingback: 17 Crock Pot Vegetarian Chili Recipes (+ 5 Bonus Meaty Chili Recipes for the Carnivores) | Kitchen Treaty

  3. Cecile posted on December 13, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Made this recipe and got rave reviews from my daughter’s basketball coaches and team. I made one minor modification because I did not have all the ingredients. I substituted one can of roasted tomatoes, 1 medium onion, and tabasco sauce with one 16-ounce jar of Herdez Casera salsa. Thank you for posting!

    • Karen Troughton posted on December 16, 2013 at 6:56 am

      So glad you (and everyone) liked it! Great idea to add the salsa. :)

  4. K posted on January 29, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    What if I added some cubes of steak at the beginning?

    • Karen Troughton posted on January 30, 2014 at 6:28 am

      I’m sure that would be great! I’ve not made it that way, but it’s a very versatile chili. I’d think it’d be nice if you quickly browned the steak with a little salt and pepper before you put it in the Crock Pot with everything else. If you try it please come back and let us know how it turned out!

  5. Michelle posted on March 12, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Was fantastic! I made it tonight and I used Boca Crumbles, and used Siracha Sauce instead of Tabasco.

    • Karen Troughton posted on March 13, 2014 at 7:56 am

      So glad you liked it! Great idea using sriracha for an added bit of heat – love it. :)

  6. Alexis @ Hummusapien posted on November 2, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Can’t wait to make this! Do you think I could cook it on high for 4 hours in a pinch? 

  7. Connie posted on January 13, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    The recipe calls for 2 cans of chili in sauce. So is this already made chili beans like Nalley’s chili or chili beans that are not drained?

    • Karen Raye posted on January 15, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Hi Connie, it is chili beans that actually come in a sauce! So it’s not a canned chili or just plain beans. Something like this: But honestly, you could just use a couple of cans of drained beans and it would still be good! :)

  8. Connie posted on January 15, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Thank you so much Karen I really appreciate the help. I’m going to make this tomorrow along with some cornbread, yum!!

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