Crock pot chili à la Ralya

I was in the mood to make chili today, but it’s been years since I’ve cooked it and I don’t think I ever wrote down my recipe. (If I did, it was on Google+. Sad trombone.) So here’s my chili recipe, archived on Yore so I won’t lose it again — and shared in case you’d like to try it out.

This chili focuses on flavorful heat over heat for its own sake. It’s hearty and, for me, on the mild end of the spiciness spectrum.

All mixed up and ready to cook

My slow cooker chili recipe

It takes me about 10-15 minutes to prep and cook the beef and onion, and I pour the other stuff into the pot while they’re on the stove. Crock pot cooking time is 4 hours.

1 lb. ground beef
1 large white onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 4 oz. can diced chile peppers
1.5 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
0.5 tsp. Cholula hot sauce
  1. Chop the onions and mince the garlic.
  2. Sauté the beef in olive oil and the onion in butter, both on medium-high heat. The beef just needs to be thoroughly cooked; the onion is done when it looks “wet” and is slightly translucent.
  3. Toss everything into a large crock pot, give it a good stir to mix it all up, and then cook for 4 hours on low.
  4. If it’s convenient, stir once or twice while it’s cooking.
After four hours, everyone in the pot has gotten to know each other well


These days I make the vegan version of my chili, which just entails substituting plant-based ground beef and vegan margarine for the beef and butter. (Back when I used beef, it was generally 85% lean.)

I love making crock pot chili because it’s quick and fun to prepare, the ratio of work to payoff is extremely high, you can experiment with it pretty much endlessly, and it’s really hard to fuck it up too badly.

Want it to be milder? Take out or reduce the amount of diced chile peppers, chili powder, and/or Cholula. Hate black or pinto beans? Swap in kidney beans, or whatever kind of beans you enjoy. Prefer Tabasco to Cholula? I find it a bit too bitter in this chili, but you do you. Only have a yellow onion? It’ll still be great. Same goes for smaller cans of beans, different broth, or whatnot: Use what you’ve got, it’ll be fine.

Just to name a few examples, I’ve seen cumin, coriander, beer, tomato sauce, green peppers, and Worcester sauce in plenty of chili recipes — and some folks have strong feelings about whether beans should ever be in chili.[1] Make it your own; that’s half the fun.

Trust me on the cocoa powder!

[1]: I love beans, and I’d much rather have a philosophical discussion about what counts as a sandwich[2] than whether beans belong in chili. One True Ways are bullshit.

[2]: Warning shot: Is a Subway sub — where the bread isn’t cut on one side — a sandwich? If it is, then so is a hot dog. And if a hot dog is a sandwich, so is a taco. Shots fired: Is an open-faced turkey sandwich a sandwich? If so, then pizza is a sandwich. Please never talk to me about sandwiches again: If I put a slice of bread between two slices of turkey, is that a sandwich? No? Okay, how about if I put one crumb of bread under the slice of turkey, and one crumb of bread on top of it?

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.