Slow cooker (or not) chili

I've been bouncing between chili recipes for years. Some are too meaty, others too beany, some too thick, others too oniony. But I've recently stumbled upon (and adapted) a recipe that I love. It claims to be Wendy's chili. I haven't tasted Wendy's chili enough to be a good judge as to how close this is, but I definitely like this version!

You can make this on the stovetop or in the slow cooker. I've been loving my slow cooker lately; our church schedule is 11–2 and I'm too starving to cook when I get home. It's nice to come home to a meal and just have to set the table.

If you don't eat meat, feel free to leave it out, or add an extra can of beans instead. I've tried black, red, and pinto beans, and while I have enjoyed all of those types, pinto were my surprise favorite. I use beans that I have cooked and frozen.

This is quick to throw together, but sometimes I make it even faster with a few shortcuts. I recently discovered frozen chopped onions, and I love that I can just pull them out and not have to chop an onion (and cry)! Using my dehydrated peppers also saves a bit of prep time, and makes it more of a pantry meal, since peppers are the ingredient I'm least likely to have on hand.


Slow cooker chili

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1–3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped (or two tablespoons dehydrated)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can beans, drained and rinsed (red, black, pinto, etc.)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker (I used a 4-quart CrockPot). Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve with shredded cheese and corn chips to make the kids happy. Serves 4.


Stovetop chili

See ingredients above.

Sauté ground beef with onion, celery, and pepper (if not using dehydrated pepper). Drain. Add remaining ingredients plus 1 cup water (or use 2 cups tomato juice in place of the can of tomato sauce). Simmer 30–60 minutes. Serves 4.



  1. I love chili.. This recipe sounds so good.. I too, try to do something in the crock pot on Sundays.. We are starving ,when we get home from church.. and it is a nice relaxing evening, when dinner is already cooked.thanks for sharing.

  2. I finally froze some onions a while back and it was so nice to have them all ready to go! I love cooking and freezing hamburger too. I usually only use it to add a bit of flavor and protein to a dish, so it's nice to just be able to toss in a bit.
    I have still never gotten to the point where I use the crock pot...uh...ever! I just don't make things that need to go in there or that turn out well in there. When I make taco soup I just dump everything in the pot, heat it up and boom! It's done! Why have it simmer all day? I must not be able to taste the difference between simmered all day food and heated up quick food like some people can.
    I'll have to try doing chili like this sometime and see if it's a hit!