Slow cooker taco chili is the perfect dinner recipe for a cold day. Ground beef, two types of beans, corn, tomatoes and taco seasoning make this chili chunky, hearty, and flavorful.
Slow cooker chili is an easy, make-ahead meal. Start your slow cooker in the morning and you'll have a hearty and filling taco chili ready for dinner.
Flavored with taco seasoning, this recipe is a southwest twist on my classic slow cooker chili recipe. Make your taco chili as spicy as you want by using mild or hot taco seasoning.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Ground beef can be substituted with ground turkey or chicken for a lower calorie chili.
- Onion - White or yellow onions work well in this recipe.
- Green chiles - Use mild or hot chiles based on your personal preferences.
- Petite diced tomatoes - Can be substituted with crushed tomatoes for a smoother chili, or diced tomatoes for a chunkier chili. Or, substitute with tomato sauce for a thinner chili with more tomato flavor.
- Beans - I used black beans and pinto beans, but any canned or cooked beans, like kidney beans, will work in this recipe. Raw beans should not be cooked in a slow cooker - they'll need to be cooked before adding to this recipe.
- Corn - Fresh, frozen, or canned corn will work in this recipe.
- Taco seasoning - Feel free to use your favorite store bought brand of taco seasoning or homemade taco seasoning you have on hand.
Do not add raw or dried kidney beans directly to your slow cooker chili.
Raw or dried red kidney beans contain a toxin that needs to be heated to a certain temperature, for a certain amount of time, to kill it. Otherwise, according to the FDA, they can cause nausea and vomiting when consumed.
To use dried beans safely, soak your beans for 5 hours in water, then boil for a minimum of 10 minutes. Once you have done this, your beans can safely be used in any slow cooker recipe.
Canned beans are already cooked, so these extra steps don't need to be taken.
For more information: Allrecipes: Why you should never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker
Taco seasoning vs. chili seasoning
For this recipe, you'lll need a packet of store bought taco seasoning, or two tablespoons of your own homemade taco seasoning.
Traditional chili seasoning uses a lot of the same spices as taco seasoning, like chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and paprika.
The main difference between the two is that chili seasoning usually contains more chili powder, and taco seasoning contains more cumin. Otherwise, the flavors are very similar.
Want to make your chili spicier? Add a dash of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes to your chili while cooking. Start with ¼ teaspoon of each and add more to taste.
Taco chili toppings
- Sour cream
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Crushed corn chips
- Chopped green or red onions
- Pico de gallo
- Sliced avocado
- A squeeze of lime juice
- Chopped cilantro or parsley
Don't have a slow cooker or crock pot? This recipe can be made on the stove top as well.
Brown the ground beef in the bottom of a stock pot, then add your remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low.
Cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Chili is an excellent make-ahead meal and freezes well. Allow your cooked chili to cool to room temperature, then portion into freezer-safe bags or containers with a tight seal.
Chili will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or more in ideal conditions.
If frozen, transfer frozen chili to the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
Pour chili into a saucepan, cover, and warm over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot and bubbly.
Slow Cooker Taco Chili
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 30 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 15 ounces canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 15 ounces canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 8 ounces canned chopped green chiles
- 2 cups corn, canned or frozen
- 1 packet taco seasoning, or 2 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning
- Over medium heat, crumble ground beef into a hot skillet and cook until browned.
- Add cooked ground beef to a 3-quart slow cooker. Add all of your remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Cook on low heat for 8-9 hours, or on high heat for 4 -5 hours. Stir sparingly (two times during the last half of cooking will suffice).
- Over medium heat, crumble ground beef into a stock pot and cook until browned.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 2 hours, stirring sparingly.
- Chili leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- Chili can be frozen for 3 months or more if stored in a tightly sealed freezer-safe container.
- Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, chives, or fresh jalapenos.
- Recipe will fit in a 3-quart slow cooker. If doubling, use a 5-6 quart slow cooker.