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Steak chili in a bowl with toppings to the side.

Slow Cooker Steak Chili

A hearty, beefy, deeply flavorful steak chili recipe with stew meat that requires very minimal time and effort. Simply dump all the ingredients in a crockpot and slow cook all day.

Yield: 5 servings (1 1/2 cups each) 1x
Prep: 20 minutesCook: 8 hoursTotal: 8 hours 20 minutes


  • 1 1/22 pounds stew meat, trimmed of excess fat (sub: chuck roast, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (sub: regular diced tomatoes)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce (sub: canned tomato puree)
  • 1 cup beef broth (sub: chicken broth)
  • 1 can (15.5-ounce) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (sub: black beans)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can green chiles (I used mild)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Lime wedges, served on the side

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Make It Now:

  1. Place all ingredients, except the optional toppings, in the slow cooker. Gently stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours (or High for 4-5 hours), until onions are very soft and beef shreds easily. Shred the beef chunks with two forks (you can do this right in the slow cooker; no need to remove them). The chili will thicken as it sits. Taste and season with more salt, if desired.
  3. Serve warm with lime wedges on the side and all your favorite chili toppings.

Freeze For Later:

Option 1 (Uncooked): Add all ingredients, except the optional toppings, to a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.

Option 2 (Fully Cooked): Cook and completely cool the chili. Place in a freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen:

Option 1 (Uncooked): Thaw completely using one of these safe thawing methods. Dump all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Follow Steps 2 and 3.

Option 2 (Fully Cooked): Thaw completely using one of these safe thawing methods. Warm in a pot on the stove over medium-low heat, until warmed through. Stir occasionally.


  • More Topping Ideas: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, diced avocado, diced red onion, sliced green onions, cilantro leaves, pickled jalapeños
  • *Optional Pre-Cooking Step to Add Flavor: If you have time, try this step at the beginning. I tested this method and it definitely added more depth of flavor to the chili. 
    • Heat 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until it’s shimmery. Add stew meat and sear on one or two sides until browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper for extra flavor.(Note: You are not cooking the meat all the way through, just getting color on it for flavor.) Transfer to slow cooker. 
    • Add the onions to the skillet and saute until just softened, about 2-3 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Add in the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds. Transfer to the slow cooker and then stir in all the other ingredients.
  • Instant Pot Instructions: Saute the beef until browned on one side (season with salt and pepper). Remove and saute onions and garlic until slightly softened, 3-4 minutes. Add all the ingredients except the lime to the pot and stir. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes with a 10 minute natural release. Then, shred the beef in the pot and enjoy.
  • I highly suggest shredding the beef instead of leaving it in cubes. It makes the chili thicker and every bite is perfectly balanced with just a little shredded beef.
  • Canned Items: Since you’re using some canned items, be sure to read the ingredients. Look for the ones with the fewest and the most recognizable ingredients (i.e. try to avoid additives). Organic versions are usually “cleaner”.
  • Slow Cooker Size: I tested this in a 6-quart slow cooker, but it will easily fit in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker.
  • Doubling This Recipe: This recipe can be doubled in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. It will be very full!
  • Cost: All the ingredients cost me $20 at Walmart or about $4/serving (as of 3/1/24).
  • Let’s Talk About Beans: Many recipes have you add beans at the end, but we found that the dark kidney beans hold up to the long cook time and get infused with flavor while sitting in the chili all day. Black beans will also work instead, but America’s Test Kitchen noted that the light kidney beans break down more quickly.
  • Lime wedges at the end are a must! They lend some acid to the chili at the table that brightens the flavor and accentuates the heat of the spices.
  • Stretch This Chili: Add another can of beans to make the chili stretch even further. Could also add another 1/2 pound of stew meat.
  • Like It Spicy? Add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne and/or use medium heat green chiles if you like your chili spicy. I tested it this way, and my husband and I really liked it. But it’s definitely got a kick to it that might be too much for children and/or picky eaters.
© Author: Rachel Tiemeyer
Cuisine: American Method: Slow Cooker