This spicy ground beef crockpot chili can be made in any slow cooker, it’s a little smokey, it’s nice and spicy, and the recipe makes enough for 8 hungry cowboys! It takes less than an hour to make before throwing in the slow cooker to simmer, and freezes perfectly for later!
I love my slow cooker for southwestern recipes like Santa Fe Chicken, Loaded Chicken Enchiladas, or anything that’s best slow-simmered. If you’re looking for a classic, spicy beef chili that’s not sweet and not “soupy,” with nice chunks of beef and a bold, smokey flavor, this is it!
Like most chilis, it’s not an exact science, so you can be a little sloppy with your spice measurements, you don’t have to use exactly the same size peppers as I used, you can use more or less jalapeños, and it’s still going to be outstandingly delicious, so don’t stress at all about getting things exactly right!
You can use any slow cooker. A crock pot or Instant Pot will do the same job of slow-simmering all those spices into the beef.
The Simple Process
1. First, we’ll chop and sauté peppers and onions in a large skillet.
2. Next, we’ll brown the beef and mix in the spices.
3. Then, we’ll dump beef, veggies, beans, salsa, and diced tomatoes into a slow cooker, and let it simmer on HIGH for 4 hours.
4. Finally, we’ll give it a taste and add a little cayenne pepper to our spicy taste (if necessary) and serve.
diced tomatoes – I like big chunky tomatoes in my chili, but feel free to use “petite” diced tomatoes if you’d rather have a little less texture.
black and kidney beans – You can substitute with plenty of different kinds of beans: black-eyed peas, pinto beans, great northern beans, navy beans and cranberry beans all make great choices for chili.
spicy salsa – Use your favorite brand of spicy salsa. I love the Dessert Pepper brand’s Salsa Diablo! Keep in mind, the spiciness of this recipe comes mostly from the salsa, so if you like your chili spicy, go for the spiciest one! I find that with that specific brand, I get a “medium” spicy chili, but you can always turn up the heat even higher later by adding cayenne pepper.
mixed bell peppers – I use 3 different colors of large bell peppers, but you can use just 1 color if you want.
jalapeños – This recipe calls for 4 jalapeños, but you can add 1-2 more if you want to add a little more jalapeño spiciness.
white onion – You can also use red onion.
smoked paprika – This gives the chili a rich, smokey flavor. You can also substitute with cumin for a less “barbecue flavor” spiciness.
cayenne pepper – This is optional. The chili may already be spicy enough for your taste, but if you want it to sizzle even more, a little cayenne will turn up the heat nicely.
A Jalapeño Slicing Hack
To easily slice the center and seeds out of jalapeños, use an apple peeler! Slice the stem off, then use the apple peeler to scoop around the sides, inside the pepper. You can then easily remove the whole white center and shake out the seeds before slicing the pepper.
How to Make This Spicy Chili – Step by Step
1. Dice 1 large white onion, 1 green, 1 red, and 1 orange bell pepper. Dice 4 jalapeños and keep them separate.
2. In a large skillet, sauté diced onions and peppers (not jalapeños) in 4 tbsps. olive oil.
3. Let diced veggies sit for 5 minutes on MEDIUM HIGH, then stir – 5 more minutes, stir, then 5 more minutes.
4. After those 15 minutes, add diced jalapeños and stir them in with the rest of the peppers and onions. I find the longer they’re cooked, the less spicy they are, so we’re only going to sauté them, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes with the rest of the veggies.
5. Once peppers and onions are nicely browned, remove them from the pan into a bowl.
6. Add 1½ pounds ground beef to the skillet. Wait 2-4 minutes before breaking up into chunky pieces. Allowing it to cook in the pan for a few minutes, undisturbed, makes it easier to chop into nice, hearty chunks that stay together. Once brown, pour into a colander or mesh strainer to strain out fat (not shown). Add back to the pan.
7. Add 2½ tbsps. chili pepper, 2 tbsps. smoked paprika, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper. Add back onions and peppers, and mix thoroughly. Sauté for 1-2 minutes more.
8. Add beef, onions and peppers into a crock pot or Instant Pot. Pour in 16 oz. spicy salsa, 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes, 15.5 oz black beans, and (after draining) 15.5 oz. red kidney beans. Stir everything together, place the lid on top and slow cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Once done, give it a taste. If you want to add more heat, start with 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper and increase by half-teaspoons to increase the heat to taste, and serve.
This chili will stay perfectly fresh for 4-5 days when stored in a covered, refrigerated container.
I’d say medium-spicy, but that’s a bit subjective. I love spiciness, so my “medium” might be your “hot.” I would say that it’s no spicer than medium salsa tends to be. Even though we’re using hot salsa in the recipe, some of that spiciness is cooled down when mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, so keep that cayenne pepper handy if you want to turn up the heat after it’s done simmering in the crock pot.
You sure can! Chili freezes and thaws beautifully. It will be just as tasty as fresh. It’s a good idea to freeze in 8-ounce portions for easy reheating. To thaw and re-heat 8-ounce portions, microwave for 3 minutes, stir, then let it heat for 3 minutes more. Stovetop should take 6-10 minutes.
A Few Tips
The most “labor-intensive” part of this recipe is sautéing the peppers and onions, but that’s all done in less than half an hour, as long as you’ve got a nice, big skillet. I used a 14 inch skillet – if you’ve got a smaller one than I used, it will probably take you a bit longer to get the job done.
Here are a few perfect additions to pop on top of your chili:
- Sour cream
- Shredded pepper jack cheese
- Pickled jalapeños
- Pickled onions
- Crushed tortillas
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More Tasty Slow Cooker Recipes
Spicy Crockpot Chili
- 1 sharp knife & cutting board
- 1 large skillet – 14-inches at least
- 1 spatula
- 1 crockpot – or Instant Pot
- 1 collandar – or mesh strainer
- 1.5 pounds ground beef
- 3 bell peppers – diced (5 cups)
- 1 large white onion – diced (1.5 cups)
- 4 large jalapeños – diced (1 cup)
- 16 oz. spicy salsa – I use Desert Pepper brand Salsa Diablo
- 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 15.5 oz. can black beans
- 15.5 oz. can red kidney beans – drained
- 2.5 tbsp. chili pepper
- 2 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper – optional
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- Once peppers and onions are diced, keep jalapeños separate from the other diced vegetables.
- In a large (14-inch or more) skillet, sauté diced onions and peppers (not jalapeños) in 4 tbsps. olive oil.
- Let diced veggies sit for 5 minutes on MEDIUM HIGH, then stir. Wait 5 more minutes, stir, then 5 more minutes.
- After those 15 minutes, add diced jalapeños and stir them in with the rest of the peppers and onions. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes with the rest of the peppers and onions.
- Once everything is nicely brown, remove peppers and onions from skillet into a bowl.
- Add 1.5 pounds ground beef to the skillet. Wait 2-4 minutes before breaking up into chunky pieces. Once brown, pour into a colander or mesh strainer to strain fat. Add back to the skillet.
- Add 2½ tbsps. chili pepper, 2 tbsps. smoked paprika, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper. Add back onions and peppers, and mix thoroughly. Sauté for 1-2 minutes more.
- Add beef, onions and peppers into the crock pot or Instant Pot. Pour in 16 oz. spicy salsa, 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes, 15.5 oz black beans, and (after draining) 15.5 oz. red kidney beans. Stir everything together, place the lid on top and slow cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Once done, give it a taste. If you want to add more heat, start with 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper and increase by half-teaspoons to increase the heat to taste, and serve.
- Sour cream
- Shredded pepper jack
- Pickled jalapeños
- Pickled onions
- Crushed tortillas