Super easy to make and one of the best homemade chilies you will ever have. This versatile chili is perfect in a small crock pot but can easily be adjusted to feed a crowd.
😊Why you will love this recipe
- This crockpot chili for two makes only about 6 cups of chili (about 4 servings), so it is the "perfect chili for two" and smaller households.
- This is an "All-American" chile with ground beef, kidney beans, traditional chili spicing, and tomato base. Just what my wife wanted "a great everyday chili."
- Not very spicy with excellent mild heat—easy to adjust.
- Uses tomato paste with diced tomatoes for a sweeter tomato taste.
- Great for every day, a tailgate, or a family get-together.
- It fits in a mini crock pot (2 quarts). Very easy to double or more.
- This is now our standard beef chili, and I'm sure it will be yours.
This chili recipe is one of many small crock pot recipes for chili, which includes my favorite Ultra Simple White Chicken Chili, Healthy White Chicken Chili, Stew Meat Chili, and Crock Pot Texas Chili.
👨🍳How to make crock pot chili
- Chop the onion and green pepper.
- Brown the ground beef. After 3-4 minutes, add the chopped onion. Add minced or crushed garlic near the end of browning. Drain and add to the crock pot.
- Rinse and drain light kidney beans.
- Add the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices to the crock pot.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
- The Meat-This recipe is based on ground beef, but you can use any other ground meat, like turkey or chicken. Each will have a slightly different taste profile, but the spices and tomato products will even things out.
- Spices-Chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Optionally you can add a bit of cayenne pepper.
- Tomato products-Diced tomatoes make the base for the chili. Tomato paste is added to boost the tomato taste and some sweetness.
- Vegetable-Green bell pepper only, but you can adjust the heat with some jalapeno.
- Aromatics-Onion and garlic
♨️Crock Pot Size
This is scaled for small crock pots. A crock pot should be no more than 75% full. You can always use a larger crock pot, but it may cook slightly faster.
- A 2-quart is the smallest you should use for a single recipe.
- A double recipe needs 4 quarts or larger.
- A triple recipe fits in a crock pot of 6 quarts or larger.
- You can always use a bigger crockpot than required.
A single recipe makes 6 cups of chili. The serving size is about 1 ½ cups.
- You can make it spicier with minced jalapeno or some cayenne pepper.
- You can modify the beans, take out the bell pepper, or make other changes.
- If you make a single batch, you will have half a pepper and some tomato paste left over. Both will freeze well. Chop the pepper before freezing. With the tomato paste, make one tablespoon-size mound and freeze it for future use.
- This is a thick chili. Add more water or beef broth if you like your chili more like soup.
Approximate yield of chopped onion using different onion sizes.
|Onion size||Approximate |
yield in chopped onion
|Small||¼ cup-lemon||½ cup|
|Medium||½ cup-baseball||1 cup|
|Large||1 cup-grapefruit||2 cups|
Ground meat needs to be precooked for crock pot recipes. This is not a safety thing but a texture thing. While the meat will cook well past the 165° safe temperature in the slow cooker, it will cook in clumps and not break apart, which you want for a good chili texture. Also, fat and juices will not be drained.
Chili can get out of hand on sodium content. Don't add additional salt if you are salt sensitive. It can always be added at serving.
Rinsing the beans helps the sodium, and use low-sodium beans. And if you add broth to thin the chili, use low-sodium broth.
It will be good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and will freeze well for 3-4 months.
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Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
NOTE: Images are for a double batch. The instructions and ingredients are for a single batch.
The ingredients are what you would expect.
Start by browning one pound of ground beef. After 3-4 minutes, add one small chopped onion (½ cup). Add minced or crushed garlic near the end of browning—about 8 minutes in total. Drain and add to the crock pot.
Chop half of the green bell pepper. Rinse and drain one can of light kidney beans.
Add one 14 oz can diced tomatoes, a half of 6 oz can tomato paste, ½ cup water, 3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon salt (to taste), ¼ teaspoon pepper, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional and adjust to taste).
Cook on low for 8 hours or 4 hours on high.
Small Crock Pot Chili
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small onion - ½ cup chopped
- 1 clove garlic - minced or crushed
- 14 oz light kidney beans - low sodium, rinsed, and drained.
- ½ green bell pepper
- 14 oz diced tomatoes
- 3 oz tomato paste
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper - optional and adjust to taste
- Start by browning one pound of ground beef. After 3-4 minutes, add one small chopped onion. Add minced or crushed garlic near the end of browning—about 8 minutes in total. Drain and add to a 2-quart or larger crock pot.
- Chop half of the green bell pepper. Rinse and drain one can of light kidney beans.
- Add one 14 oz can diced tomatoes, a half of 6 oz can tomato paste, ½ cup water, 3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon salt (to taste), ¼ teaspoon pepper, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional and adjust to taste).
- Cook on low for 8 hours or 4 hours on high.
Your Own Private Notes
- This is scaled for a smaller crock pot. A 2-quart is the smallest you should use. A double recipe needs 4 quarts or larger. And a triple recipe fits in a crock pot of 6 quarts or larger. I always do a double batch.
- Use ground turkey or chicken if you wish.
- A small onion is ½ cup chopped. A medium onion is 1 cup chopped.
- Precook the ground meat since uncooked ground meat will clump.
- Rinsing the beans will decrease the sodium load.
- Add salt to taste only.
- This is a thick chili. Add more water or some beef broth if you like your chili more like a soup.
- The serving size is about 1 ½ cups.
- An easy recipe to double or triple. Use the serving adjustment above. It will change the volume in the ingredients list but not the wording in the instructions. .
- Good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and will freeze well for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally published January 19, 2015. The text and options have been expanded. I have published it now as a smaller recipe. I generally make a double batch, and that was initially published. I have also refreshed all the photos and added a table of contents to help with navigation. Please enjoy this excellent chili.