Classic Chili in the Crock-Pot

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Guess what friends? It’s September 22nd, and you know what that means? It means it’s the FIRST DAY OF FALL! Woohoo! And in honor of the start of MY favorite seasons (fall through the New Year), I have the most delicious classic chili recipe to share with you.

This is the chili recipe I grew up on, and the one I make year-after-year all winter long. You’re going to love it.

A bowl of chili sitting on a plate with a spoon.

Planning dinner is sometimes a chore

Some days I’m really motivated and have a grocery list and dinner plan in place by 9:00 a.m. and other days…I don’t. I just throw things in the Crock-Pot and hope for the best.

I’m not going to tell you which one occurs more often, but I’ll let you take your best guess (wink!). One of my favorite easy meals that never disappoints (or gets biffed up) is this classic chili recipe (and cornbread)!

A bowl of chili topped with cheese and green onion.

The basic ingredients

There are a few things I always start chili with and that would be crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chili powder and then I just add to that based on what I have in the house.

Sometimes we get beef, sometimes turkey, sometimes bell peppers, and sometimes kidney beans, but no matter what I throw in, the most delicious, filling, warm, savory meal comes out. That’s the beauty of chili, if you ask me.

A bowl of chili with a spoon it it, topped with cheese and green onion.

A funny story…

When I sat down to actually write out this chili recipe, I had to really think about what I was doing; how much of this, how much of that? I make this recipe so often, I just wing it most of the time. I’m glad to have the basics nailed down now and have it all archived here on the blog forever.

How to make this classic chili recipe

  1. On the stovetop, cook ground beef (or chicken, or turkey) over medium heat with the chopped onion until completely cooked. Drain the fat, if necessary.
  2. Meanwhile, add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and two cans of chili beans to the Crock-Pot.
  3. Stir in the spices, honey, and white vinegar.
  4. When the meat and onion are fully cooked, add them to the Crock-Pot and give it a good stir.
  5. Set the Crock-Pot for 2-3 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low. If you’re around, stir it occasionally. If not, that’s fine too.
A spoonful of chili with a bowl of chili in the background.

Why this classic chili recipe is the best

This chili is a tradition. It’s wholesome and filling, and it’s easy to throw together on busy nights. It’s got all the traditional chili flavors you’d expect, but you can get creative with it and throw in something fun like bell peppers, sweet potatoes, Tabasco, or even sausage. And don’t forget the cornbread on the side.

Questions about this recipe

Yes. Just make sure to let it cool completely, then pack it up in an airtight container or ziplock bag before freezing. If you use a ziplock bag, express most as much air as possible and lay it flat in the freezer to save space. Freezing liquids horizontally is a great organizing tip.

No more than a week, and my personal rule of thumb for leftovers is 5 days. If it’s getting close to that time, pop it in the freezer for an easy meal in the future.

I’m not a huge fan of putting raw meat into my Crock-Pot, unless it’s cooking alone, but several chili recipes I’ve seen don’t require any pre-cooking or browning.

It’s important to remember that browning or cooking the meat beforehand creates a richer flavor. Not to mention the flavor of caramelization of the onions too, yum!

A bowl of chili sitting on a plate with a spoon.

Classic Chili

By: Kristine Underwood
A wholesome hearty classic chili loaded with meat, beans, and tomatoes. It's warm and comforting, making it the perfect cold weather meal.
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course Soup, Stew, & Chili
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 326 kcal


  • 1 pound ground beef (or ground chicken or turkey)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 2 cans chili beans in sauce (15 ounces)
  • 2 TBS chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 TBS white vinegar
  • 2 TBS honey


  • In a frying pan over medium-high heat olive oil, cook beef and onion until brown and cooked thoroughly.
    1 pound ground beef, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 onion
  • In the Crock-Pot add, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and chili beans and stir.
    1 can crushed tomatoes, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes, 2 cans chili beans in sauce
  • Stir in vinegar, honey, spices, salt, and pepper.
    2 TBS chili powder, 1 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 2 TBS white vinegar, 2 TBS honey
  • Add cooked meat and onion and mix well.
  • Cook on low 2-3 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, green onion, and cornbread.


Serving: 1 bowlCalories: 326kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 18gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 1609mgPotassium: 1199mgFiber: 8gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 1147IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 6mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. This chili is delicious! Very traditional and flavorful recipe. 10/10 recommend!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much Andrea, very glad you enjoyed it too! Happy fall!

  2. Delicious! This recipe was easy to make and tastes amazing. Very hearty and filling. Thanks, Kristine!5 stars

    1. You’re so welcome, Annie. I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed it. Happy fall!

  3. This chili is pure comfort in a bowl. Easy to whip up, smells amazing while cooking, and is full of chili flavor. Yum!5 stars

    1. I love to hear it, Theresa! Thank you so much – I agree about the smell of it when it’s cooking. It makes the whole house smell divine!

  4. Great twist with white vinegar & honey. The Italian seasoning adds a great layer, too. Thanks for for this recipe, it was delicious.5 stars

  5. Everyone needs a classic chili in their recipe book and this one is fantastic. Thanks for this recipe!5 stars

    1. I totally agree Debi! It’s absolutely a wintertime staple for me! 🙂

  6. I loooooove this chili. But believe it or not, I had never made it in the Crock-pot! I will definitely be saving this to make again. Thanks for sharing!5 stars

    1. Sharon! You must try it in your Crock-pot – it’s so easy! And thank you so much, really glad you loved it! 🙂

  7. This chili is so versatile. I added some chopped peppers that I had in the fridge – very yummy (and so easy!). I’ll make this one again!5 stars

  8. I’m crazy about this chili, so good. I also made your cornbread to go with, which was also delicious! Winner winner!5 stars

    1. Amazing, Beth! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed both recipes! Thank you for the 5 star review!

  9. Classic chili is one of my favorite recipes. I really like the addition of honey and vinegar in this recipe, they really made the flavors pop. This recipe is a keeper.5 stars

    1. Mine too, Dannii! I’m so glad you loved the chili. I’ve been making it this way for as long as I can remember, and it’s never let me down, haha!