If y’all can remember back to 2018, I started looking up chili recipes to use for a chili cooking competition at my office. I ended up trying out three of them and made what I thought was the best one, only for something to go horribly wrong with my chili at the actual competition and it tasted so bland. I was embarrassed and disappointed. So we basically haven’t made chili at my house since then.
Cut to this year, and it’s kind of cold in our apartment so Steven suggests making chili, which means I’m back to the internet to find a better slow cooker chili recipe. And I come across this one from Cooking Classy, which claims to be the BEST slow cooker chili recipe (but all of them claim that). However, out of all the chili recipes I’ve tried, THIS one is by and far the greatest one yet.
What I Changed: So the recipe calls for 2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes with chilis. I used 3 (10) oz cans fire roasted tomatoes with chilis, which gives the chili that little extra kick. (Also, my grocery store doesn’t sell 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes with chilis.)
The recipe also calls for 3 (8 oz) cans of tomato sauce. I picked up 1 28 oz can of tomato sauce so I wouldn’t have to deal with multiple cans. Plus, I like draining the fat from the beef into a can (so it can solidify before I throw it away), and bigger cans are easier to drain stuff into.
I also don’t rinse my kidney beans – I didn’t even notice that was a thing until I was reading through this recipe to write about it!
Cooking the Beef: The first time I made this chili recipe I cooked 2 pounds of beef in one pan at the same time, and later read the tip from the recipe creator that you should cook the beef in two batches so it browns better. I tried that the second time, and it makes a HUGE difference in taste and flavor. If you’ve got the time/patience for it, split your beef into two batches. (This is easy for me since my grocery store only sells ground beef in 1 pound or 3 pound packages, so I always get 2 of the one-pound packages.)
Cocoa Powder: I will admit that I’ve never understood the addition of cocoa powder into chili recipes, but I always add it. The brand she uses appears to be Ghirardelli, which is way too expensive to use for chili (in my opinion), so I just use store-brand cocoa powder. I’m not wasting my good baking cocoa on chili. But seriously – always add the cocoa powder. It has something to do with the depth of your chili, and I’m always down for great chili.
The Spice Level: Personally, I think the spice level on this is perfect. I don’t add any additional chili powder beyond what the recipe calls for, but I think my inclusion of the fire-roasted tomatoes over just regular diced tomatoes helps with the spice. If you want to cut it down some, maybe take half a tablespoon of chili powder out of it? I’m not sure. It’s not overwhelmingly spicy (WAY less spicy than the butter chicken recipe I shared a few weeks ago!), but I can see where someone might want more of a mild taste instead of a medium.
Final Thoughts: I have finally found the chili recipe that claims to be the best slow cooker chili recipe, and it actually IS the best one that I have found so far. We’ve made it at least four times now, and every time it seems to get better. This is an easy 5/5 star recipe for us, and we always serve it with fritos. We’ve even made it for friends for a tiny two-couple New Year’s Day gathering. Get yourself some sharp cheddar cheese to serve with it and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Do you have a favorite chili recipe? What’s your favorite way to serve it? Let me know in the comments!
And as always, keep reading.