This is a favorite winter meal in my household. I have a batch going in the crockpot right now. When I used to make lunch for a big corporate group here in Silicon Valley, I would have 3 large slow cookers of this chili going at once. I always loved the smell in the kitchen on those days, and I would always make it the day before they were eating it because chili really does get better the second day. It’s about time that I share my Big Batch Chili Recipe for the Crockpot with you all.

In this post, I share with you the big slow cooker I use from All-Clad, the hot sauce I use to spice up our chili, and a cooking technique to make your spices taste better. Once you learn how to “bloom” your spices, your chili will taste better and you can apply this technique to all the recipes you make that use dried spices.

 

Big Batch Chili Recipe in bowls surrounded with tortilla chips and avocados

Adding Extra Heat to Big Batch Chili Recipe

After years of cooking for clients with kids, I have gotten used to keeping the heat in my chili low and letting people add more spice to their own bowls. Even when I make this recipe just for my husband and me, I still only add a small amount of cayenne because this hot sauce is the perfect complement to beef chili. Lucky Dog Red Label tastes like it was made for chili. Lucky Dog Hot Sauce is the passion project turned full-time business of my friend Scott Zalkind.  He started off making hot sauces in his backyard and selling the extras to his friends. You can see his entire line of sauces and start imagining which of your dishes would pair with each one.

The Slow Cooker I Use

I have an All-Clad 6.5 Quart Oval Slow Cooker. This is the big boy of crockpots. It doesnt make sense to cook a small batch of anything when you have a cooker like this. I have had it for over 10 years and it still feels like new. If you are looking to purchase a slow cooker and like making large crockpot meals I highly recommend checking this one out.  All-Clad is a very reliable brand and holds up well over time.

large crockpot full of chili on the counter

This recipe fills one large 6.5-Quart slow cooker. I keep my recipe this big even though there are only 2 of us at home, because if you are going to make chili, why wouldn’t you make extra and tuck some away in the freezer for an easy meal another night?  The best thing about the crockpot is to let the chili simmer all afternoon while you get other things done and then have a fantastic dinner waiting for you.

If you are using a higher fat beef like 85/15 or 80/20, you will have lots of fat left from cooking. You can use that fat to cook all the vegetables instead of using more oil.  In this case, cook the meat first, drain off some of that fat and then cook the vegetables.

Bloom Your Ground Spices!

A key technique in this chili is to add all your ground spices to the pan with the sauteing onions so that they “bloom” and release more flavor. This will help the spices to become more robust instead of just adding them to the crockpot.  You will find yourself adding way more spices to your chili if you just pour them into the crockpot cold. They dont have a chance to really release their flavors until they sit in the hot chili for a couple of hours. Read more about blooming your spices at Serious Eats.

Great Meals for the Freezer

This chili recipe freezes really well and you will be thankful for such a warming meal that is easy to heat.  Just let the chili completely cook down before putting it into dishes for the freezer. I just filled two 4-cup round pyrex and two 2-cup pyrex bowls to place in the freezer.  Another great freezer meal is this Beef Carbonnade Stew that uses gluten-free dark beer. This stew also fills the house with the most amazing smell.

Now let’s make some Big Batch Chili Recipe in Your Crockpot

bowls of big batch chili recipe with beef crockpot

PRINTER FRIENDLY RECIPE

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Big Batch Crockpot Chili Recipe

  • Author: Andrea Sprague
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Category: chili
  • Method: crockpot
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This recipe fills a large 6.5-Quart slow cooker. Even if there are only 2 of you in the house, make extra and tuck some away in the freezer for an easy meal another night.  The best thing about the crockpot is to let the chili simmer all afternoon while you get other things done and then have a fantastic dinner waiting for you.

This is a large recipe, so you will have to cook up the meat and veggies in batches. This entire process takes me about an hour from the first cut, to putting the lid on the crockpot and walking away.

 


Ingredients

Scale

2 cans crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
3 pounds ground beef
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped, 2¼ cups
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped, 2 cups
4 celery stalks, chopped, 1½ cups
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped, about 1½ cups
4 garlic cloves, minced, about 2 Tbsp
Couple sprigs fresh thyme, picked and chopped lightly
2 Tbsp ancho chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can tomato paste, 3 oz
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish:
3 green onions, sliced
Avocado
Bag of your favorite corn tortilla chips
Hot Sauce


Instructions

  1. Turn crockpot onto high setting, open cans of tomatoes and pour into the crockpot. This will allow the crockpot to warm up while you cook the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Heat large saucepan over medium high heat. When hot, add about 1/3rd of the ground beef. Break into smaller pieces while cooking until no longer pink, and slightly browned. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt while it cooks. Once browned, place meat in slow cooker
  3. Repeat until all of the meat is cooked and in the slow cooker.
  4. Place pan back over heat, add olive oil if needed, then add onions. Saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Pour onions into crockpot.
  5. Place pan back over heat, add more olive oil if needed, then add carrots. Saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Pour carrots into crockpot.
  6. Place pan back on the heat and add celery and bell pepper and saute, stirring frequently. After about a minute, add garlic, thyme, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne and oregano to pan and stir to coat the vegetables in the spices. This allows the spices to bloom, and awakens their flavors. Saute stirring for about a minute, until the spices become aromatic. Place contents of pan into slow cooker.
  7. Add the tomato paste, black pepper and bay leaf to the slow cooker and give everything a good stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 3 hours.
  8. Stir in the beans, cover and cook for 1 more hour.
  9. Pour into bowls, garnish with green onions, chopped avocado, your favorite hot sauce and serve with tortilla chips.

Notes

  1. If you are using a higher fat beef like 85/15 or 80/20, you will have lots of fat left from cooking. You can use that fat to cook all the vegetables instead of using more oil.  In this case, cook the meat first, drain off some of that fat and then cook the vegetables.
  2. You can put the beans into the crockpot along with everything else.  I wait until the end because the beans are already cooked and dont need to be cooked any further. They are in the chili for an hour which is enough time to warm them up.

Keywords: big batch chili

One Comment

  • Alyssa Hixenbaugh says:

    This chili sounds like it has lots of flavor! Healthy hearty chili is a staple in my home during the winter months. Your recipe looks delicious. 🙂

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