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

This is hands down the best chili I've ever had. Using steak in chili is a game changer! --> 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 Slow Cooker Steak 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?”

This is hands down the best chili I've ever had. Using steak in chili is a game changer! --> 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. I figured they’d already eaten, but I didn’t want the leftovers to cause any issues. Otherwise I would have called.

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.)

This is hands down the best chili I've ever had. Using steak in chili is a game changer! --> 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.

And ALLLLL of the spice action in this chili just blows me away. Not spice as in spicy-hot, but a complex mix seasoning that gives it such a richness and depth. More than any other chili I’ve ever made. It’s well worth opening all those jars, I promise.

I’ve loved hearing about all of the chili cook-offs this recipe has won over the years! Yay for amazing chili! And yay for making chili in a slow cooker!

UPDATE: I loved this recipe so much, I tweaked it a little more and adapted it for an Instant Pot! You can find that recipe in my cookbook, The Big Book of Paleo Pressure Cooking (Harvard Common Press, Nov 2018)

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

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

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Purchases made by using these links doesn’t cost you any extra and helps to keep my content free.

This is hands down the best chili I've ever had. Using steak in chili is a game changer! --> Slow Cooker Steak Chili -