Beef Slow Cooker Chili

Chili is a must this time of year, especially with the frigid cold temperatures we will be having the next few days. I feel like I hear the weatherman say -25 to -60 degrees, but I think to myself "that can't possibly be true, can it?", I guess I am in denial. Let us file this one under "Wisconsin problems".  Anyway, I will do what every other sane Wisconsonite does when it is this bitter cold, hibernate and drink these frigid temperatures away.

This is actually the chili we make for most Packer games, it is kind of festive with the green and gold toppings, too bad the Packers blew it  in the last quarter of the first playoff game (figures), otherwise this would be known as "Packer Victory Chili". We made chili a couple years ago when the Packers won the Superbowl, so ever since it has been kind of the good luck chili, not that I believe in superstitions. Alright, enough about  the weather and sports, and more about this delicious chili recipe.

There are a couple of different chili recipes we make, from a vegetarian version that comes completely from cans to a version made with rehydrated ancho chilies and pinto beans in a dutch oven but  this one is definitely the easiest to make for a crowd- got to love slow cookers!

The recipe is a bit of a hybrid, with all the flavor of slow cooked chunks of tender beef, beans, with a deep complexity and richness, but a bit less fussy. If you have access to Penzey’s spices, use the Arizona Dreaming spice blend over a regular chili powder as it will add more flavor. This chili is not spicy but it has a bit of a kick, so if you like it spicier, I would add more cayenne near the end of cooking or serve with a Mexican hot sauce such as Valentina or Tapatio.

This recipe has a great depth of flavor, almost like a mexican mole which just keeps getting better with every bite you take.  I don't even think you need very many toppings, but like I said I am from Wisconsin, I live in the land of cheese.

Well I hope you enjoy and stay warm!

Beef Slow Cooker Chili

Beef Slow Cooker Chili

Serves 4-5


  • 2.5 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbs Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming or other chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes in juices
  • 1 14oz can of black beans with liquid
  • 1 14oz can red beans, drained
  • 1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or chips
  • 1 1/2 tbs masa harina (corn flour, not cornstarch)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seemed, deveined and chopped
  • Salt, pepper and vegetable oil
  • Grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro leaves and broken tortilla chips for toppings


  1. Combine the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, oregano, and brown sugar in a small bowl and aside.
  2. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 1 tbs vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and working in batches, brown the beef on all sides, adding more oil if necessary, then transfer it to the insert of a slow cooker, leaving as much oil in the skillet as possible.
  4. Add the onions to the skillet, season with salt and sauté until they soften, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, jalapeño, and spice mixture and cook for 1 minute longer.  Pour in the crushed tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the chocolate, masa harina, and a big pinch of salt and cook for 1 minute longer.
  6. Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker along with the drained red beans, black beans and their juices. Stir to combine.
  7. Cook on high for 4-5 hours (depending on the size of the slow cooker), until the meat is very tender.
  8. Serve chili in bowls topped with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro leaves and broken tortilla chips.

Countdown with Cocktails- Day 1: Lemon Cucumber Mint Detox Water

After a long week of eating and drinking, a little detox and rehydration is in order for New years Day. This refreshing drink combines lemons to help cleanse and alkalize the body, cucumber for its rehydration properties and mint for a little natural sweetness and flavor, as well as helping to calm the stomach and aid in digestion.


Lemon Cucumber Mint Water

  • 4 thin slices cucumber
  • 4 thin slices lemon
  • 2 sprigs of mint

Place cucumber, lemon and mint in a collins or pint glass. Muddle lightly with a muddler or back of a wooden spoon.

Add ice and fill with filtered water, stir to combine.