Slow Cooker Steak Chili aka The Best Chili I’ve Ever Eaten

Slow Cooker Steak Chili -

Another name for this post could be, “How I almost sent my friends to the ER.” I’m still having miniature panic attacks over this. Monday night I was upstairs giving the girls a bath when my husband came home from work, went into the kitchen and found this chili sitting in the crock pot. He ate some, then came upstairs and said, “You know how your crock pot lid handle is loose?”


“It’s missing a screw.”

“OK. Did you find it?”

Slow Cooker Steak Chili -

He looked at me nervously. Then I realized the screw secured the handle from underneath the lid. “I think it fell in the chili,” he said. About an hour earlier I had given half of that chili to some friends who had just had a baby. They also had small children. GASP Hubs goes back downstairs to search the chili again, and I grabbed my phone and frantically started a text to my friend.

On his way down the stairs, he goes, “Tell them if they find it, we need it back.” He smiles. He shouted from the kitchen that he found the screw.

Text deleted.

Breathing resumed.

ER visit avoided.

Future dinner invitations may or may not be declined if they happen to read this. (Or anyone for that matter.)

Slow Cooker Steak Chili -

On a lighter note, this is probably the best chili I’ve ever made or eaten. It’s also the first time I’ve used steak in chili. I may never go back to ground beef unless I’m in a pinch. Or don’t have half of a cow in my freezer. Those chunks of beef just fall apart in your mouth.

It’s also another fantastic recipe from Emeril Lagasse’s book, Sizzling Skillets and One Pot Wonders. (The Slow Cooker Indian Beef and Slow Cooker Chicken were favorites of ours!)

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Slow Cooker Steak Chili

Yield: Serves 8-10

Prep Time: About 45 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: About 7 hours


1/4 cup chili powder
2 Tablespoons whole cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried Mexican or regular oregano
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons coconut sugar or honey
4 pounds steak, cut into 1-inch cubes (can also use boneless chuck or stew meat)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
3 Tablesoons heat-safe oil (coconut or grapeseed)
4 cups chopped onions (3 medium or 2 large)
1 1/2 cups chopped celery (about 4 ribs)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups stock (beef, chicken, or vegetable will do)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 ounce semisweet or dark chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons masa harina (corn flour, not cornstarch -- optional)
2 cups water
2 cups chopped butternut squash (optional)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Grated cheddar, chopped green onions, and sour cream for garnish


Combine the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Add the beef to a large bowl and season with the black pepper and 1 Tablespoon of the salt.

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or saute pan over high heat. Add about 1/3 of the beef to the skillet. Let the meat sit for a minute or so, then stir them up. Cook for another couple of minutes, then transfer the meat to the crock of a 6-quart slow cooker. Repeat with remaining beef, adding it to the skillet in two more batches and browning them in spots. Add more oil between batches, if necessary.

When you're finished with the beef, add the onion, celery, and 1 Tablespoon of the remaining salt to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, jalapenos, and spice mixture and cook for another minute. Pour in the stock, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the chocolate, masa harina, and another couple large pinches of salt and cook for another minute. Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker with the beef. Add the water and the squash cubes (if using).

Cover and cook on high for 6 hours, stirring only once or twice, until the beef is very tender. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the cilantro and parsley. Serve the chili with garnishes.

Nat's Notes:
1. The original recipe had 1 teaspoon of cayenne. I thought this was plenty spicy, and perhaps a little too much for my 4-year-old who filled her chili with cornbread and sour cream.

adapted lightly from Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders by Emeril LaGasse

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71 Responses to “Slow Cooker Steak Chili aka The Best Chili I’ve Ever Eaten”

  1. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — January 10, 2013 @ 6:56 am

    STEAK in chili? I’m dying. I love that. Even if there are screws in it. I’m in.


  2. #
    Jenne — January 10, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    Oh, I need to make this! My recipe is very similar and as I was reading down the ingredients I was going to tell you I add some dark chocolate, and voila! There it is! I’m drooling now!


    • MaggieMay replied: — February 1st, 2015 @ 10:15 am

      How much dark chocolate? I have no idea!

      • Natalie Perry replied: — February 2nd, 2015 @ 1:46 pm

        1 ounce of semisweet chocolate chips. Just like it says in the recipe. :)

  3. #
    Christine — January 10, 2013 @ 8:09 am

    I had a similar thing happen, but thankfully only my husband and I were eating the food from the crockpot :) We received a crockpot with a hinged lid for our wedding. At the time, I thought it was a great idea because you didn’t have to worry about setting the lid off to the side. However, after a few uses, the hinge fell apart and pieces of plastic and the screw fell into the roast I was cooking. I think (hope) we fished them all out before eating!


  4. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — January 10, 2013 @ 9:39 am

    I love the masa harina in this!! YUM!


  5. #
    Bree {Skinny Mommy} — January 10, 2013 @ 9:49 am

    Lol! So glad you found that screw! This chili looks awesome. I love the dash of cinnamon and masa harina!


  6. #
    Joanne — January 10, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

    That’s the kind of thing I have nightmares about! I’m so glad it all turned out okay! And this chili looks hearty in the best possible way.


  7. #
    Sonia! The Healthy Foodie — January 11, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

    Screw or no screw, I would definitely love me a bowl of this… please?
    I always add cocoa powder to my chili… but chocolate chips? Interesting!
    I am so pinning this. I am way overdue for a good, comforting bowl of warm chili!


  8. #
    Julia {The Roasted Root} — January 11, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

    I’d eat your screwy chili any day! ;) This post cracked me up and now all I want is steak chili :)


  9. #
    Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily — January 11, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

    Yikes! At least you got to enjoy your chili ‘) oh and no one was hurt ;}
    My pressure cooker fell apart into my dinner once and I had to throw it all away. grrrrr.


  10. #
    Erika @ The Hopeless Housewife — January 11, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

    I’m glad you found the screw, how scary! But the chili looks fabulous!


  11. #
    Carrie @ Kiss My Whisk — January 11, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

    I’m obsessed with chili, and I cannot wait to try this recipe!


  12. #
    kathryn — January 13, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

    Wait….. this chili has CHOCOLATE in it?? I think my mind just blew up! I’m going to try this with the last stew meat in the freezer. It took us about 6 months, but we’ve finally almost eaten the entire 1/8 of a cow we got last May. (We don’t eat a lot of beef, kind of ironic, right?) We’re getting 1/4 share in a few weeks, so that should last us quite a while :)


  13. #
    natalie@thesweetslife — January 15, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    wow–I’ve never tried steak in chili but this sounds fantastic!!


  14. #
    Aggie — January 15, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

    Phew!! Too funny, but kinda not? ;)

    My husband would be thrilled if I made steak chili. Seriously thrilled. This looks amazing.


  15. #
    Anna — January 16, 2013 @ 5:02 pm

    It was awesome,we loved the steak and the squash and the screw;) you are amazing!


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  17. #
    Jess — February 17, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

    Made this tonight and it was awesome! It was my first experience putting
    steak in chili and I doubt I’ll ever go back to ground beef. I used chunks of stew meat, chopped into 1-in pieces (will probably cut them even smaller next time). I threw in some extra chili powder (maybe a tablespoon or so) and about 1 T. extra tomato paste. I also added 2 cans of rinsed, dark red kidney beans in place of the squash to keep it nice and savory. YUM! I’m looking forward to freezing the rest and bringing it out for a quick meal in a couple of weeks. Recipes that produce enough to use more than once are the best. ;) Thanks so much for sharing!


  18. #
    Amanda — May 5, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    Oh my goodness! So glad you found it. That could have been bad. Pinning this! Looks fantastic!


  19. #
    Nancy Hermes — July 17, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

    I tried this recipe tonight and it was absolutely the best Chili I have ever made or eaten! Thanks for sharing!


  20. #
    Amy Hernandez — September 17, 2013 @ 8:30 am

    I’ve never heard of adding chocolate giving it a try.
    I’m confused about the harina de masa. Is this the same as corn meal?
    Difficulty finding it in Alaska :/


    • Natalie Perry replied: — September 17th, 2013 @ 9:40 am

      Hi Amy! You’ll love the richness the chocolate adds! And corn masa is corn flour, not cornmeal. It’s finer like regular flour. If you can’t find it you can either leave it out or use cornmeal, but using it may make the chili kind of gritty. You might be better off serving it with cornbread. Good luck!

  21. #
    Veronica Hamel — September 29, 2013 @ 9:57 pm

    Chili without any beans? Isn’t this vegetable beef soup.


    • Natalie Perry replied: — September 30th, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

      Calling something “chili” has more to do with the spices you use than whether or not it contains beans. In some parts of the country (ahem… Texas) it’s blasphemous to put beans in chili.

  22. #
    Jenna — October 27, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    This sounds great, but I have to ask… what type of steak cut did you use? Serloin? Bonesless ribeye? Curious, but I wanna make this!


    • Natalie Perry replied: — October 28th, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

      I believe I used sirloin. I think any cut of steak would work well except maybe tenderloin. Because it’s a slow cooker recipe, you could also use stew meat or boneless chuck roast cut up into small chunks.

  23. #
    Joanne — December 5, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

    Fantastic chili! no changes except for using only one jalapeño, won 1st prize in chili contest at my church with 13 other entries. Thanks so much!


    • Natalie Perry replied: — December 9th, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

      Wow!! Thanks for letting me know! And congrats on the win :)

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  26. #
    Kaleena — February 27, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    This looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it this weekend! Are there no beans in this chili? or am I missing something? PS I absolutely LOVE your whole grain, shortening free pie die for. Thanks!


    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 27th, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

      Nope, no beans. Some people (ahem…a handful of Texans) think that chili shouldn’t have beans. I like it with and without. If you wanted to add a can to replace some of the steak I’m sure it would work!

  27. #
    priscilla — March 14, 2014 @ 7:56 am

    Tried this recipe and it is AWESOME! I added too much salt the first time but I am going to make it again this week :-) Thank you!!!


  28. #
    Helen — July 7, 2014 @ 4:59 am

    Hello, just wanted to say thanks for sharing this recipe. I tried it once and cannot stop thinking about it. It will become a regular in our household, I feel. Quick question: can you freeze it once you’ve cooked a batch? My dream is to have a constant supply of this in my freezer, and wondered whether that would be safe…


  29. #
    Kea — October 17, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

    I like your recipe can I do it in a slow cooker?


    • Curt replied: — October 20th, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

      Kea, since the first two words of the recipe are “Slow Cooker”, and since the recipe tells you twice to use a slow cooker, YES, you can do it in a slow cooker. :-)

  30. #
    Drew — October 24, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

    Amazingly good! I made this for a chili cook-off we had yesterday at work and didn’t change a thing except didn’t use squash. Beat 12 other contestants in the ‘Best overall’ category and in the ‘spicy’ category both, and now have the ceramic pepper award hanging from my cube wall for the next year, thanks to your recipe =D

    Printed your URL at the bottom of the ingredients card, so credit has been given. Many many compliments from all who had some!


  31. #
    jared — October 29, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

    I loved it. I tried it today for a church thing. Very tasteful. I would say it had a complex taste, but I’m not sure exactly what that means. One of the best recipes I have ever tried. Next time I will double the cayenne pepper, though. Really good. Thanks for sharing.


  32. #
    Sloan — October 29, 2014 @ 10:21 pm

    Best chili I have ever eaten!!! Tried at a church function tonight and can’t wait to make it. I love chili and try lots of different kinds. This by far, is the best!! It even beats claim jumpers steak chili and I thought that would be tough to beat!! Thanks to my friend who made it and saw the recipe from you!!!


  33. #
    Que chef — November 14, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

    living in Jacksonville,Florida Temp 4o tomorrow sound yum yum going to try in our cold day.


  34. #
    Timmy — November 23, 2014 @ 7:04 am

    GREAT RECIPE!!! I threw in a can of beer, a large jar of my favorite barbecue sauce, a cup of Lee and Perrin’s, 3 cans of kidney beans for my “not so traditional” chili eaters, and used 4 times more tomato paste….. It came out fabulous….I’ll probably add more jalapeño and cayenne the next time,,,,, This recipe helped me create an awesome chili that I hope to get me the elusive first place trophy in my daughters’ school chili cook-off!!!!!


    • Natalie Perry replied: — December 1st, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

      That’s so great to hear! Thanks for letting me know, Timmy!

  35. #
    Ellen — December 30, 2014 @ 10:26 am

    Does it really take a full six hours in a slow cooker? On high?……I’m hoping to make this today but only have a bout 4 hours prep time. What about making on stove top like a stew??


    • Natalie Perry replied: — December 31st, 2014 @ 10:59 am

      It depends on your slow cooker. If you have a newer one you could probably get by with 4 hours of coooking because they cook hotter than older models. I prefer cooking it longer because the meat becomes more tender and the flavors develop and blend better. If you use steak that’s already pretty tender that shouldn’t be a problem. You can definitely make this on the stove top and simmer it for an hour or two. (It’ll probably taste better the next day if you do that.)

  36. #
    Liz — January 12, 2015 @ 5:54 pm

    Thank you for the nice recipe.


  37. #
    Mrs T — January 20, 2015 @ 2:54 am

    I love this recipe! I’ve been making a vegetarian chilli on the stove for years now with chocolate in so was thrilled to find this! Was wondering what size your crockpot is? I have a standard size one (for the UK anyway…) and this recipe doesn’t seem to fit it in too well.


    • Natalie Perry replied: — January 29th, 2015 @ 10:54 am

      For this I use a 6 quart crock pot. Glad you like it!

  38. #
    rhianna — February 6, 2015 @ 4:00 pm

    Is 2T Cumin Seeds correct? It sounds like a lot.


  39. #
    Matt — March 18, 2015 @ 6:43 am

    By Celery, you mean actual stalks of Celery? Just checking…..


  40. #
    Mari — September 28, 2015 @ 6:59 am

    If I can’t find masa harina what would be a good substitute? Or better to omit?


    • Natalie Perry replied: — September 29th, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

      I would just omit it. :)

  41. #
    Lisa — October 7, 2015 @ 9:43 pm

    Made this over the weekend for friends…it was delicious!  My husband (who is very picky), said to make sure to save this recipe because “it’s a keeper”.  From him, that is the highest praise.  Also, I did change 2 things.  My store didn’t have whole cumin seeds, so I used 1tb ground instead.  Also, I didn’t have masa harina, so I used regular wheat flour.  (Sorry paleo followers! But my family isn’t paleo.  I just stumbled on this recipe since I was looking for a good steak chili recipe…and this one definitely is awesome).  Oh, I also added the butternut squash…delish!  Thank you for the recipe!


  42. #
    Dawn Kragelund — October 20, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

    I absolutely adore this recipe!!! I subbed out the butternut squash (only cuz I have super picky eaters) for black beans. I like to add the beans to make it heartier and chose black beans because the chili is so dark and gorgeous it screamed for dark beans, lol. I’m getting ready to make this for my second time and I’m really excited to eat it tonight for dinner. It’s delicious!! I’d like to try it with the squash too but maybe I’d pulverized it in my chopper to disguise it in the dark chili so my family doesn’t know it’s there…….shhhhhhhh, don’t tell them ;)


  43. #
    Brent Cleveland — January 18, 2016 @ 8:21 pm

    Thanks so much for this great recipe,the first time I made it my wife and friends loved it.Tonight I’m making again for chilli cook off at work.It really is some of the best chilli I’ve ever eaten and definitely the best I’ve made.


    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 4th, 2016 @ 9:09 pm

      You wouldn’t be the first to enter this recipe in a cook off. Apparently it does quite well! I hope everyone loved it! Thanks, Brent.

  44. #
    Danielle — March 20, 2016 @ 2:37 pm

    I love beans in chili, will adding kidney beans change this in a  Bad way?


    • Natalie Perry replied: — March 20th, 2016 @ 9:05 pm

      Absolutely not! I didn’t add beans because my blog has a paleo-focus now and I try to avoid using legumes in my recipes.

  45. #
    Laurie — April 29, 2016 @ 9:48 am

    This sounds amazing! I’m always trying different chili combinations, and I tend to find no matter what I do it still comes out tasting too much like tomato. This picture and recipe looks like that won’t be the case. Couple questions- If you leave out the masa will it not have the right thickness? Also can you make this the same way but in a big stock pot instead of crockpot and just simmer for hours? 


  46. #
    Alexis — October 28, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

    I’m making this right now and it definitely isn’t as dark as the pictures. Is there a reason it’s happening? The only thing I didn’t add was the cornflour. Thanks!


  47. #
    Hannes — November 4, 2016 @ 5:01 pm

    This  was awful! I always make my chili with sirloin but man this sauce didn’t even taste like chili. I had to throw out all of it, although I salvaged the 4 lbs of sirloin (waaaaaay too much by the way) and fed it to my pooches. DONT FOLLOW THIA RECIPE OR YOU WILL WASTE A BUNCH OF FOOD


    • Natalie Perry replied: — November 7th, 2016 @ 9:08 pm

      Hey! I’m sorry you didn’t it. You’re actually the first person who has left me negative feedback on this recipe. I’m glad your dogs liked it, though.

    • Lela replied: — November 19th, 2016 @ 6:25 pm

      Wow I’ve made this every cold front we get in Texas since 2014 and it’s amazing each time. I can’t believe the bad review. My coworkers come running to me when a cold front is coming and give me cash since I only use ribeyes or strip steak!! We don’t play about our meat lol. The only thing I do different is double the seasonings and I slow cook it with two whole jalapeños for an extra kick. Thanks for the recipe 

      • Natalie Perry replied: — November 21st, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

        I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it for so long! xoxo

  48. #
    Sean — November 13, 2016 @ 11:58 am

    If not using squash, are the 2 cups of water required? Thanks Natalie! Making it right now.


    • Natalie Perry replied: — November 17th, 2016 @ 11:05 pm

      Hi Sean, I assume you figured it out? Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. I’ve been nursing sick kids this week. I would put half of the water in and then check the texture when it’s finished and maybe add more if it’s too thick. Hope it turned out well!

  49. #
    Sean — November 20, 2016 @ 11:45 am

    Hi Natalie,

    Made it…loved it….I substituted 1 cup dark beer for the 2 cups of water. Froze leftover sauce and put it on my eggs.
    Thanks for the recipe and the reply!


    • Natalie Perry replied: — November 21st, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

      Good to hear! Glad you liked it. :)

  50. #
    Jesse — December 15, 2016 @ 6:34 pm

    Would 8 hours on low be okay? 6 hours wont work with our schedules.


    • Natalie Perry replied: — December 15th, 2016 @ 8:15 pm

      Ehh. Maybe. If you have an older slow cooker (like, the crock part isn’t removeable) it would be fine. The newer ones cook hotter and I’m afraid that beef would totally dry out. If you’re cutting the beef up, you could make bigger chunks and then break it apart at the end. That would help. Or if your crock pot kicks over to the warm setting, set it for 6 hours or so and then let it sit on the warm setting until you’re ready.

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