My Kids Ate It: Simple Slow Cooker Chili (with some fancy toppings for grown-ups)

by Wendy Copley on February 12, 2014

Simple, Kid-Friendly Slow Cooker Chil

I haven’t posted many “My Kids Ate It” recipes lately because we’re in one of those phases. You know — a phase where one or both kids refuses to eat what I’m serving for dinner almost every night? Ugh. But as I was flipping through the latest issue of Cooking Light a few weeks ago, I came across an article with ideas for interesting chili toppings and it reminded me that I needed to make a batch of chili.

I’ve been using the same chili recipe as my go-to for years. It’s the recipe my parents used to make for us when we were kids and it’s ridiculously simple and versatile. The recipe calls for ground beef, but I’ll often swap in ground turkey or beef stew meat depending on what’s in the fridge. And because it’s loaded with beans, you can make it without meat at all and it will be sufficiently filling for dinner. This is one of those lots-of-cans crockpot recipes too, so it’s easy to keep the ingredients on hand in the pantry for days when I need to get dinner on the table but I don’t feel like visiting the grocery store. This is a pretty nutritious recipe to begin with, but over the years I’ve cut the fat and sodium a bit by using some of these suggestions.

Simple, Kid-Friendly Slow Cooker Chili (with some fancy toppings for the grown-ups)

Simple Slow Cooker Chili


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (or ground turkey or beef stew meat OR you can leave it out)
  • 3 14.5 oz cans of beans, drained and rinsed — which beans are up to you. I usually go with two cans of pinto beans and one can of black beans, but I’ve used kidney and garbanzo beans with success too.
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


  1. Cook ground beef (or other meat choice) for about 5 min until browned. It doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through. Drain well.
  2. Add the beef to the slow cooker, along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
  3. Set slow cooker to low and cook for 4 to 6 hours. (It might be able to go a little longer than that, depending on your slow cooker.)

Optional toppings:

We love this with grated cheddar and a little sour cream. The adults at the table will sometimes add fancier toppings like you see here: sliced radish, avocado, sunflower seeds and a squirt of lime.

The Verdict

My kids love this chili and Zach and I like it too. It’s one of the few meals I make regularly that I can be assured everyone in the family will eat. It’s mild so the boys don’t reject it for being too spicy but my husband and I will often add a little hot sauce to give it some zing. I like to make a double batch so we can have the leftovers for lunches and Wyatt particularly likes to take some in a thermos for his lunches.

How do you make your chili?

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