Slow Cooker Three Bean Beef Chili

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings

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This Slow Cooker Three Bean Beef Chili is a healthy, easy dinner idea for any night of the week! A microwave shortcut makes makes it a one pot meal and cuts down on prep time. 

Serve it over an Air Fryer Baked Potato, a homemade bun or dinner roll, or with these Air Fryer French Fries!

slow cooker chili in white crockpot with metal scoop

This Slow Cooker Three Bean Beef Chili was originally a recipe I made from a cookbook review, but I wanted to spend a little time adjusting the recipe more to our family’s tastes and I am so happy with the results.

This crockpot chili is thick, chunky, and loaded with flavor.

It’s got a hint of sweetness and a smoky, savory flavor that we love from the addition of barbecue sauce.

If you prefer your chili flavor ultra traditional — no barbecue sauce, no sugar — you can absolutely leave those out, but we love the depth of flavor it adds and I highly recommend you give it a try!

crockpot chili in white bowl overhead with tortilla chips

Ground beef?! In the microwave?!?


This is a tip from the original recipe (out of the One Pot Wonders cookbook which I previously reviewed), and I have to say, it surprised me, too.

But it is such a great timesaver and it saves on dirty pots and pans <– two things I love.

So although you may be skeptical, give it a try and I have a feeling it’ll turn you into a believer 😉

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Variations on this Slow Cooker Chili recipe:

  • You can add in a ton of veggies if you want to bump up the nutritional value — chopped or shredded carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, kale — really anything you are okay with adding to your chili is fair game here. Me? I tend to go with the ones my kids will notice least 😉
  • Swap the ground beef (or some of it) for ground turkey or chicken if that’s what you prefer or have on hand.
  • Bump up the spice with a splash of hot sauce or sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
  • Top it up! My favorite part about crockpot chili is all the things I can top it with! From chips and tortilla strips, to shredded cheese, green onions, fresh tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, you really can’t go wrong. What are your favorite toppings?
slow cooker chili in bowl close up with cheese green onions and chips in background

How to make this chili recipe ahead:

You can make this slow cooker chili ahead and the flavor just gets even better.

It can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days, or frozen up to 3 months. It’s perfect for freezing single servings if you are feeding one or two!

To thaw, simply leave in the refrigerator overnight before warming through, or microwave on low heat for 2-3 minute intervals until heated.

More slow cooker recipes you’ll love!

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Slow Cooker Three Bean Beef Chili

5 from 6 votes
This Slow Cooker Three Bean Beef Chili is a healthy, easy dinner idea for any night of the week! A microwave shortcut makes makes it a one pot meal and cuts down on prep time. 
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course, Soup
Servings 6 servings
Calories 429cal


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 15oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 15oz can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce optional
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Sour cream,shredded cheese and green onions for garnish


  • Combine ground beef, onions, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Microwave on high until beef is no longer pink, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Place beef in a 4-6 quart slow cooker and add beans, tomatoes, broth, barbecue sauce if using and brown sugar. (We like our chili with a sweeter barbecue flavor, but if you prefer a traditional chili you can leave it out, or add it in later)
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Skim any excess fat from surface with a large spoon and season to taste before serving.


*This recipe is halved from the original — it was still lots for our family of four with leftovers! Feel free to double and make a larger batch, especially if you want some to freeze for quick meals later.
** The second time, I made this in a pot, cooked the ground beef and added everything else. I let it simmer for 45 minutes or so, covered on low, and was still great! 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 429cal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 1461mg | Potassium: 1589mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 1524IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 9mg

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Tanya Tissaaratchy says

    For your 3 bean chili beef recipe, can you change to ground turkey (we on’t eat much beef) and can I use tomato paste instead for crushed tomatoes ( I don’t like chunks of tomatoes) I hope to hear from you today as I would like to make this today.

  2. Eri Coker says

    Made this for dinner tonight, it was delicious! The beans disintegrated a bit so I added a bit more beans at the very end of cooking. Hubs and toddler approved. Thanks for sharing, will definitely pin and make again! ?

  3. MARISSA C. says

    I have to work a 8:30- 5 job and leave the house about an hour before my job starts. Would it be okay to leave the chili on low for that long?

  4. Zainab says

    I NEED this book. with the super busy weeknights with a toddler, I don’t have more than 30 mins to whip up dinner. I have been using my slow cooker more and more. This looks amazing! Always in need of flavorful chili

  5. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says

    Slow cooker meals are the best, especially when it comes to chili! My husband isn’t a fan of beans in his, so I usually just double the meat and leave it out. But, this is the kind of meal that I would make and eat all by myself. Such perfect comfort food!

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