Slow Cooker Chili
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Four Bean Chili



Super Bowl is here and so is the stress of feeding a huge crowd of people coming over to your house to watch the game. Who wants to be in the kitchen catering to everyone's needs when there are so many awesome commercials to watch -- oh yeah, of course there’s the football game, too! :)

This leads me to the reason you have to make this super easy chili this weekend. Besides the fact that the adults will adore it, your kids will have a ball adorning their chili bowls with tons of accompaniments. Kenya usually covers his with so much shredded cheese you can't tell there's chili under the surface, but he devours it all nevertheless. Make this recipe the night before the game or early in the morning, and all you have to do when everyone shows up is hang out and enjoy the fun!

Four Bean Chili  (Serves 8-10)

  • Prep Time: 10 mins,
  • Cook Time: 8 hrs,
  • Rating:
    Rate this recipe
Super Bowl is here and so is the stress of feeding a huge crowd of people coming over to your house to watch the game. Who wants to be in the kitchen catering to everyone's needs when there are so many awesome commercials to watch -- oh yeah, of course...


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 2 15 oz cans tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  1. 1. In a sauté pan over medium heat place 1 tbsp of oil and sauté onions for 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté another minute until the onions start to caramelize, then remove and place in a crock pot.
  2. 2. In the same sauté pan, add another tbsp of oil and sauté the ground beef for 5 minutes, breaking down the beef with a wooden spoon until it’s cooked through and most of its juice has evaporated.
  3. 3. Add the cooked beef and the remaining ingredients to the crock pot and stir to combine.
  4. 4. Cover and cook the chili on low for 8 hours.
  5. 5. Top with desired accompaniments and serve.

Accompaniments: Sour Cream, Yogurt, Grated Cheddar Cheese, Scallions, Hot Sauce (if you want to take it up a notch)

Four Bean Chili

Nutrition Information

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  1. Margaret

    February 5, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve made this chili countless times! My family of four, with varying food preferences, always enjoys this chili; it’s the only one I make now! Thank you for sharing; I first found it in your book via my library and am thankful it’s available here too. Yum!!

    • C. McCord

      February 15, 2017 at 7:26 am

      Score! So glad you all enjoy it!

  2. film streaming

    December 1, 2016 at 7:31 am

    really nice article thank so much for sharing !!! i do really enjoy it
    . Are there any parents out there who slaves away at the stove for their family, only for it to be a complete waste?! They’d rather eat McDonald’s for dinner instead. I am so pissed.

  3. Christina

    October 21, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I just made this chili — slow cooker overnight, then fridged all day, and just served it for dinner. The house smells great, and I LOVED the chili. My 3-year-old and husband, however, HATED it. My son had 2 small scoops of it, but took a bite every 5 minutes, and kept complaining about the beans. Finally ate half and pushed it away. My husband only ate a tablespoon’s worth. I am so angry because I spent all the time and effort to make it, and it turned out really well. Are there any parents out there who slaves away at the stove for their family, only for it to be a complete waste?! They’d rather eat McDonald’s for dinner instead. I am so pissed.

  4. Clara

    October 9, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I would love to try but we have a hard enough time finishing one can of beans in two days. Will this recipe freeze well. Especially if the beans are canned – otherwise I’m tempted cut all the portions by a quarter and make from dried beans. I’m also not sure if they sell canned tomatoes and tomato juice here. Can tomato paste or a marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes be a good substitute.

    • C. McCord

      October 12, 2015 at 11:02 am

      This freezes great! Reheat on the stove or in the microwave!

  5. Ivana

    May 25, 2015 at 6:56 am

    My husband and I loved it but my 2 year old just ate the cheese and sour cream, oh well, I’ll try again later! Thanks for the delicious recipes

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  10. Lisa

    March 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    My 20-month old loved it! She couldn’t tell that there were lots of veggies that she would normally pick out of her food (onions, and I also added celery and zucchini). The beans were also very tender. My husband and I loved it as well! Oh, I forgot to buy the tomato juice so I substituted it with a small can of tomato paste plus three cans of water. Thanks for the recipe!

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  19. tammi

    March 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    This is fantastic….thanks Catherine!

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  21. Laura

    February 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    tried the four bean chili & loved it!

  22. Sarah

    February 17, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Hi. This looks amazing! Any idea if I can cut cooking time and do iron high for 4 hours?? Thanks

    • catherine

      February 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Yes, that should work!

  23. Sarah

    February 17, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Hi! Can this be cooked on high for 4 hours?? Thanks.

  24. April

    January 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    What size crock pot is this for? I only have a 4qt one.

  25. andrea

    January 4, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    what if you don’t have a crock pot? Can you make this on the stove?

    • catherine

      January 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      You can do this on the stove! Follow the directions exactly through step 2. Place all ingredients in a pot on the stove, cover and simmer on low for 1-2 hours!

  26. Alex

    December 7, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Dear Catherine,
    Thanks for continuing to share recipes with us even though you’re a cookbook writer now!
    I’ve had trouble with printing weelicious recipes in the past couple of months. When I open the print window, all of the words are jumbled or missing letters. Has this happened with anyone else? Hope it can be fixed soon because I love your new layout and would like to keep your print-outs in my binder of recipes.
    Take care,

    • catherine

      December 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      Oh my! I have not heard of that before! Have you tried updating your browser or clearing your cache? I’ll send this message to my tech team and see what we can do!

  27. Emily

    November 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Do you really mean tomato juice, or tomato sauce? I only have a 15 oz can of tomato sauce….

    • catherine

      November 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Tomato juice! You can find it in the juice aisle near the V8!

      • Emily

        November 22, 2012 at 12:21 am

        Thanks! Can I just say that it is awesome that you take the time to reply to everyone’s questions?! Your website and book have made me excited about cooking again post-baby.

  28. epgallagher

    October 1, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Can this be cooked on High? I never seem to make the 8 hour cut-off for dinner. I’m not using meat if that makes any difference.

    • catherine

      October 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      That should work!

  29. catherine

    June 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Yes! :) Great time-saver for the morning.

  30. Jessica

    June 15, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I was wondering if it could be premade, the onions, garlic, meat, the night before and put in the fridge. And then put in the crockpot the next morning?

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  32. Mya

    October 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Fantastic recipe!! I made the chili yesterday for dinner, and just had some leftovers for lunch. My husband and I both enjoyed this as much as my 16 month old son.

    Thank you!!

    • Mya

      October 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Also! As if there were not enough wonderful options on your site for what to do with leftovers….

      I found that a bit of chili and some grated cheddar cheese make a lovely quesadilla.

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  34. Lisa

    May 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    For those that don’t eat meat, we just leave it out and serve it topped with chopped red or green onion and green pepper. It’s delicious!

  35. BrittanyBarrett

    May 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    How do you soften hard beans for this recipe?

  36. Melissa P

    May 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    What is a serving size. I’m trying to portion out meals for myself and husband and I’m assuming that 1 serving is 1 cup? Am I close? :) Thanks!

    • catherine

      May 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm

      Yes, serving size is 1 cup :)

  37. bebe

    April 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I love to try new chili recipes, this one looks very good. I have a ton of dry beans & I buy frozen beans too, so I will have to try it.

  38. Lori sorci

    March 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Finally got around to making this, it was awesome!! Even my no bean eating 6 year old tried some because Kenya eats it :) watching your videos and reading the site with my boys has been the best way to get them to try new things! I think they think Kenya and Chloe are famous!

  39. Kelly

    February 22, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    This was delicious! I substituted ground turkey for the ground beef but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Yum! My husband, 20 month old, and I all really enjoyed it. And we have tons of leftovers. Thanks Catherine for another great recipe that everyone enjoyed.

  40. dawn

    February 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Yummy chili! I used two cans (28oz) of diced tomatoes and omitted the tomato juice. It definitely filled the crockpot up and I love how I have leftovers to freeze or use for another meal this week!

  41. Laura

    February 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    This was my very first attempt at using a crock pot/slow cooker. I made this last week and it was a huge hit with me, my husband, and our 3 y.o. son! We don’t eat meat, so I substituted a package of veggie meat for the beef and just added it right to the crock pot w/o sauteeing. I was also out of black beans, so I substituted garbanzos. Served it with some shredded cheddar on top. It was excellent!

  42. Laura Degnan

    February 12, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I must have a really small crock pot. My husband had to run out in the mist of my cooking to borrow my friend’s. Make sure to use one of the largest crock pots out there. Can’t wait to eat this though!

  43. Jennifer

    February 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    This was delicious! My 17 month old has pneumonia and this is the first thing he’s eaten in days! I added a half a cup each of purred carrots and broccoli. No one noticed. Can’t wait to try it over mac n cheese tonight.

  44. Kristi

    February 8, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    What size crockpot did you cook this in? I have an 8 qt, and was wondering how much it would fill it up.

  45. Vanessa

    February 7, 2011 at 3:29 am

    I was reading the comments on the cans and how they can have BPA , I never knew that, so my question to catherine is, Do you only buy certain brands of canned beans or other stuff like tomato sauce, etc…???

    • catherine

      February 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      I buy organic canned beans and tomatoes usually from trader joes or any health foods store. You can also make your own beans and tomato sauce if you prefer. One thing I love to do is prepare beans ahead of time and freeze in portions so when it comes to recipes that need canned beans, I have some available that is fresh but frozen. But when I am out, I use the canned ones.

  46. JHanna

    February 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    made this chilli today for our little Super Bowl home party and it is SOO good, SUPER easy and my 3 1/2 year old even liked it. We topped it with cheese and sour cream! mmm..mmm

  47. Trisha

    February 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I also do not like the reliance on canned ingredients. Eden Organics beans were actually on sale today – score! So that helps. Pomi tomatoes come in a box (though are not organic) and you can get organic tomato juice in a bottle, so you can reduce the amount of canned goods (or at least cans with BPA lining) going into this soup. Making this tomorrow before we go to church and can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the recipe! Can’t wait to try the chili fries too! 😉

  48. Shalu

    February 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Hi Catherine

    This recipe sounds delicious. I am definitely going to try this for my little one.

    One quick question: Can I use ground chicken instead of beef? We do not eat beef, so I was wondering.


  49. Olive's Mom

    February 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Catherine – if i wanted to make this not spicy and kind of sweet (for the little ones to enjoy too) would i need to modify anything, or is it so as is? Thanks!

    • catherine

      February 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      The recipe itself is perfect for little ones :) you don’t need to change anything but if you like to change it up for parents you can add extra spice and hot sauce if you like :)

  50. Karhy

    February 4, 2011 at 8:52 am

    So yummy! I made ours vegetarian simply by omitting the beef and adding veggie crumbles to the crock pot at about the last half our point.

  51. Seema

    February 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    This sounds delicious! How would I make this vegetarian? Should I simply omit the beef and keep everything else the same or do I need to adjust the other items proportionally as well?

    • vani

      February 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      You can use morning star brand soy crumbles.

    • catherine

      February 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      Just leave the meat out :) You won’t need to adjust anything, thats the best part of this recipe! :)

  52. Melissa

    February 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Made this last night and it was really good. I used chicken breast instead of ground beef because that’s what we had on hand. I also added habanero sauce to my bowl because I like spicy and obviously my 3 and 4 yr olds don’t. But…it was really good and the girls gobbled it up!!!!

  53. Suzanne

    February 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I, for one, will definitely be working this recipe on Super Bowl Sunday! I was also wondering about the substitutability (is that a word?) of the tomato juice. But thanks to filaree way and Tori, I think my question has been answered! I will try this with the cans of tomato sauce I have on hand. Thanks again for the great (and fun) recipes, Catherine!

  54. Tori

    February 2, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I do a very similar recipe but I use one big can or two cans of diced tomatoes instead of tomatoe juice… we like tomato chunks :) I also try to avoid canned foods most of the time, but sometimes I just don’t have time and this recipe is so great for those days!

    • Gina

      February 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      When soaking dried beans the night before how many cups of dried beans equals a 15 oz can?

      • Tori

        February 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm

        Sorry I didnt’ respond sooner… The best thing about this recipe is that the exact measurements don’t matter. I would just do about a cup of each kind then adjust the liquids in the chili according to the amount of beans you have. I find that different packages even of the same kinds of beans don’t always yield the same amount so I just throw some in and go from what I end up with :) In addition to the BPA content, cooking your own helps to control the sodium content and other things added to keep beans from losing color and texture- even many of the organics have things added.

  55. filaree way

    February 1, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    I just made this recipe. Very good! My husband isn’t eating meat this month so I did a veggie version with carrots, green bell peppers, zucchini, celery and corn. Didn’t have white beans, so it was 3 bean for us, but it was still great. What kind of tomato juice do you use? Does tomato sauce work? I only had organic pizza sauce, so I just used one can and then added another can of vegetable broth to make it the right consistency (it turned out great! but I usually wouldn’t do it that way).

  56. Melanie

    February 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    The recipe looks great, but I hate the reliance on canned foods. We stay away from canned food since the BPA leaches into the food. (Although Eden’s organic canned beans are bpa free, they are pretty expensive.)

  57. Michelle Hill

    February 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    One 15 oz can of beans is about 1 2/3 cups cooked; I round a half cup up when I scoop them from a pot. Websites differ a bit on how many dry beans to cook to make a can’s worth… some say 2/3 cup, others say that 1 c dry beans makes 3 1/2 cups cooked, I make big pots of beans and freeze extras in cottage cheese and yogurt tubs in the freezer in 1 and 2 can equivalents. I would NOT cook all these different beans together, as some will turn mushy before others are done. And always toss the soaking liquid for kidney beans, as they can release toxins.

  58. melissa

    February 1, 2011 at 10:53 am

    What is the ratio of one 15oz can to dried beans? We really don’t buy the cans anymore, but I’d love to make this from all the dried bean varieties mentioned! Thank you.

  59. Jenny Irwin

    February 1, 2011 at 9:52 am

    If I don’t have a crock pot, how long would you recommend cooking this on the stove top?

    • Melissa

      February 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      Since the beef and beans are already cooked you really just need to keep it on the stove until it’s warmed through. If I was making it for all day eating though, I would put the burner on the lowest setting and just let it simmer. Check it periodically and give it a quick stir to make sure it’s not sticking or burning.