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

This slow cooker steak chili is literally the best chili I've eaten in my life. It has won so many chili competitions and is my go-to recipe for a solid, "fancy" chili to impress! - | #slowcooker #grassfedbeef #steakrecipe

Does food hold strong memories for you? This steak chili recipe is the best I’ve ever eaten, but it still gives me the shudders because of a memory attached to it, despite being a classic comfort food.
I was upstairs giving my two girls a post-dinner 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 excitedly (because he LOVES it) 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?”

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.


Steve went downstairs to search the chili again, and I grabbed my phone and frantically started a text to my friend while trying to get my kids dressed for bed. 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 slow cooker steak chili is literally the best chili I've eaten in my life. It has won so many chili competitions and is my go-to recipe for a solid, "fancy" chili to impress! - | #slowcooker #grassfedbeef #steakrecipe

What’s the Best Type of Steak for Chili?

Using steak in chili can seem like an indulgence, right?

It doesn’t have to be!

If you want to use steak, I’d highly recommend a cheaper cut of steak — like round steak or sirloin. Save those filet cuts for the grill.

You could also use stew meat. I actually use that the most often. Because you’re cooking it really slowly for a long time, it’ll soften up and be just as tender as great steak.

If you get grass-fed beef shares like us, then high-quality beef is pretty affordable! I always reserve a package of steak or stew meat to make this chili at least once every winter.

It has to compete with a couple of other beef recipes we love that remind us of living in Europe — Borscht and Goulash. We like hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meals in the winter.

Does Chili Need to Have Beans?

If you’re looking for a classic bean chili, this isn’t it. Most chili recipes have kidney beans or black beans, but this crock pot chili — no beans. (In some parts of Texas putting beans in chili is frowned on — go figure!)

It’s a nice homemade chili recipe to have if you’re eating paleo or avoiding legumes. And it’s gluten free as is.

Do You Have to Sear the Beef Before Slow Cooking?

Short answer: No.

Alternate short answer: Yes, if you have time.

Also, this isn’t a “done in 30 minutes” kind of chili. It does require some prep work like chopping and searing beef chunks, but it makes quite a big of chili, and I love having leftovers.

Most of the time chili is better the second or third time you warm it up. (And the beef gets more tender, too.)

The ingredients aren’t hard to find either. It has a familiar chili powder base in the spices, but you may need to get some cumin seeds. (If you want, you can substitute a lesser amount of ground cumin — probably a Tablespoon will do.) And instead of tomato sauce, it calls for a mixture of tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, which I like. I’m not a fan of big tomato chunks in my chili.

And ALLLLL of the spice action in this chili just blows me away. Not spice as in spicy-hot, but a complex mix of seasonings that give it such richness and depth. More than any other chili I’ve ever made. It’s well worth opening a few extra jars, I promise. You can absolutely make it spicy if you like — just shake in a little extra cayenne pepper.

Can You Freeze Chili?

This Slow Cooker Steak Chili is one of those recipes you put together on a lazy Saturday morning that will feed you a few times the next week. It’s a great meal prep recipe in that regard.


It’s also a good one to take someone who is sick or just had a baby or needs a little love. Or is super overwhelmed with life. Cozy comfort food meals are great for that. And sometimes meals say exactly what we want to say when we don’t quite know what words to use.

Award Winning Steak Chili!

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! Let me know if you enter this into a contest and win. It seriously makes my day.


This slow cooker steak chili is literally the best chili I've eaten in my life. It has won so many chili competitions and is my go-to recipe for a solid, "fancy" chili to impress! - | #slowcooker #grassfedbeef #steakrecipe


Can You Make Steak Chili in an Instant Pot?

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 newest cookbook, The Big Book of Paleo Pressure Cooking (Harvard Common Press, Nov 2018) along with a few other chili recipes.

I also put chili recipes in my first book, The Big Book of Paleo Slow Cooking.

If you love this, you may love the other chili recipes on my blog — Hearty Winter Chili (A great, quick chili with a BBQ flavor! And comes together really quickly) or Paleo Vegetarian Chili (for those meatless Mondays!).

Slow Cooker Steak Chili

Slow Cooker Steak Chili

Yield: Serves 8-10
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours

This is absolutely my favorite chili of all time. And apparently many of you feel the same way! It's a winner in our house as well as many chili cook-offs around the country. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!


  • 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


  1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the beef to a large bowl and season with the black pepper and 1 Tablespoon of the salt.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker with the beef. Add the water and the squash cubes (if using).
  8. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours, stirring only once or twice, until the beef is very tender.
  9. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the cilantro and parsley. Serve the chili with garnishes.


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

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 slow cooker steak chili is literally the best chili I've eaten in my life. It has won so many chili competitions and is my go-to recipe for a solid, "fancy" chili to impress! - | #slowcooker #grassfedbeef #steakrecipe