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

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 of seasonings that give it such 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! Let me know if you enter this into a contest and win. It seriously makes my day.

If you want, you could also use beef stew meat! Since it cooks for hours, it’ll soften right up and be just as tender as steak. If you happen to buy your beef in bulk you could use some beef stew meat in one of these other recipes, too: Russia Palace’s Borscht or Paleo Hungarian Goulash (for Instant Pot).

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)

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

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!)

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