Amazing Slow Cooker Texas Chili

I have a confession to make. I’ve never really liked slow cooker meals. I get the appeal of just tossing ingredients into a pot and walking away to return several hours later to the smells of a delightfully fragrant and finished dish. But most meals I’ve made in my crock pot have been pretty ho-hum. Recently, I found a copy of America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution at my local library. I am a huge fan of America’s Test Kitchen, plus I’ve never seen a more dog-eared copy of any library book before in my life. So, I had to check it out. The second sentence on the back of the book states “Too bad most slow-cooker recipes deliver mediocre results you’d rather forget than fix again.” By the time I read that “the team at America’s Test Kitchen spent a year developing recipes, and what they discovered will change the way you use your slow cooker”, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to dig in. Since trying a few of the recipes and learning some valuable slow cooker techniques, I’m officially a Slow Cooker Convert. I learned that for a recipe to REALLY work in a crock pot, a little pre-cooking prep is necessary, like “blooming” onions, garlic and spices in the microwave to intensify their flavor. Or some finish work under a broiler  might be necessary for say, fall-off-the-bone barbecued ribs.
Today I’m excited to share a recipe for super flavorful Slow Cooker Texas Chili. And with my new arsenal of slow cooking techniques for brilliant dishes, it looks like “slow cooked meals” will be getting its own category on Good Dinner Mom.
Here are my ingredients, ready to go. Texas Chili is known for featuring big chunks of beef slowly simmered to fall-apart tenderness. Beef chuck is perfect in this version, but ask your butcher to cut up the chuck for you to really save on time.

Slow Cooker Texas Chili

The onions, garlic, tomato paste, vegetable oil, cumin and oregano get stirred together to “bloom” in the microwave before being added to the slow cooker. This step promises great flavor (and delivers!).

Slow Cooker Texas Chili2

Then simply add your ingredients, including a bit of tapioca for thickening, which will disappear during cooking. You will vary the amount of chipotle chiles depending on how much heat you like.

Slow Cooker Texas Chili5

The toppings for this hearty, chunky chili are endless. I love to add fresh onion and Anaheim pepper rings to chili. I also served green onions, avocado chunks, sour cream, cheese and fresh jalapeno slices since I make my chili on the mild to medium side. The jalapenos will satisfy your heat-lovers.

Post update January, 2016: Thanks to a “true Texas girl” Kaycee, I must correct myself that true Texas Chili has no beans. With or without the beans, I hope you like this recipe. 🙂

Slow Cooker Texas Chili
Big chunks of beef, dark kidney beans and a complex chile-infused sauce deliver a powerhouse of flavor in this slow cooked chili. To save on prep-work, ask your butcher to cut up the chuck roast for you.
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 8 to 10
  • 3 onions, minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh oregano OR 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can or box of tomato puree
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup Minute tapioca
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 Tablespoons minced canned chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, plus extra as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (5 pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Options for toppings include but aren't limited to; scallions, avocado chunks, fresh jalapenos, sour cream, cheddar cheese, fried onion rings
  • Cook's note: I used 1 Tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo and it wasn't even hot.
  1. Microwave onions, chili powder, tomato paste, oil, garlic, cumin and oregano in large bowl, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Stir beans, tomato puree, broth, tapioca, soy sauce, chipotles, sugar, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Season beef with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Gently stir together. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.
  3. Let chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard bay leaves. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste, sprinkle with toppings and serve.

Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution.

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