Shellie’s Slow-Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Chili is one of those recipes where every family does it differently. However, Cincinnati chili has gained something of a name for itself with unique flavor notes.

My wife’s family loves their recipe for slow-cooker Cincinnati chili, and she has graciously offered to share it with all of you.

Slow-cooker chili - 13 - Serving the chili

Fair warning: my wife takes a somewhat more…holistic approach to cooking. So, be prepared for some extreme approximations on the spice measurements. However, luckily spices can be adjusted at any time, giving you your own personalized version.

Quick thing: I have included affiliate links to Amazon below – it won’t affect your price to click them, but I do get a kickback. I promise that my links are only to be helpful and offer products that would be useful with the recipe.

Also, we are using a Crock Pot, here (we actually have a couple in different sizes). If you need one of your own, just click on the image of the one to the left. It will take you to Amazon to get one very much like the one featured in this recipe.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

IngredientsChili BaseFinishing the chiliTL;DR Chili Recipe


Slow-cooker chili - 01 - Ingredients

So, let’s start with the non-spice ingredients. Now, the picture above is slightly misleading. Although I put out two onions and three cans each of tomato sauce and hot chili beans, my wife only used one onion and two of each canned good. In addition, we have two pounds of ground beef.

Now, the spices. We used granulated garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder, oregano, and cocoa powder.

Step By Step: The Chili Base

The base for the chili is pretty straightforward.

Slow-cooker chili - 03 - Start browning the beef

Start by putting your two pounds of ground beef in a skillet to brown.

Slow-cooker chili - 04 - Season the beef

Season the meat with chili powder and granulated garlic (the amount here is pretty approximate, so I guess a teaspoon or two of each?).

Slow-cooker chili - 02 - Cans of chili beans and tomato sauce

While that is browning, open up two cans of the chili beans and two cans of tomato sauce and pour it all in the crock pot. You may want to hold onto one of those cans for the next step.

Slow-cooker chili - 05 - Finished meat

When the meat is fully browned, it will have a lot of grease. So, the next step is to drain it.

Slow-cooker chili - 06 - Drained meat

We used another pot lid to hold all of the meat, while pouring excess grease into the can saved from the previous step.

Slow-cooker chili - 07 - Add meat to the chili

Put all the browned meat into the slow cooker and stir it up.

Slow-cooker chili - 04 - The ONION

Now, the onion.

Slow-cooker chili - 08 - Diced onion

Peel it and dice it nice and fine…

Slow-cooker chili - 09 - Add onion to the slow cooker

Then toss it into the crock pot!

From here, it’s all about the seasonings and cooking the chili.

Step By Step: Finishing the Chili

Slow-cooker chili - 10 - Adding seasonings

Now we do the seasonings.

Let’s start with the unique part: the cocoa powder. She put in a good amount of this, we guessed around a tablespoon.

Then, there is the chili powder. We enjoy spicy chili, so she put in much more of it, we guessed anywhere up to four tablespoons.

Then about a teaspoon and a half of garlic, a teaspoon of salt, a half-teaspoon of red pepper flakes, a teaspoon of oregano, and later, an optional addition of half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Quick note: if you don’t like spicy foods, we would recommend leaving out the red pepper flakes and cayenne entirely.

Reminder: all of these are approximate measures, and you can always add more spices. There’s no need to dump a ton in there only to find out in the morning you’re burning your mouth.

Slow-cooker chili - 11 - Cook overnight

After this, set the crock pot to low and cook overnight. In the morning, taste it and season more as you please. If it isn’t spicy enough, add more cayenne, chili powder, or pepper flakes.

Slow-cooker chili - 12 - Finished chili

From there, the chili is ready to eat! My wife and her family like to let it go until dinner time, stirring occasionally.


Slow-cooker chili - 14 - Served chili

Shellie’s Slow-Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 6-24 hours

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans hot chili beans
  • About a tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Around 4 tablespoons chili powder, plus another teaspoon or so
  • 1 teaspoon and a half of granulated garlic, plus another teaspoon or so
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Begin browning ground beef (2 pounds) in a medium saucepan. Season with chili powder and granulated garlic (about a teaspoon or so of each).
  2. Add tomato sauce (2 15-ounce cans) and hot chili beans (2 15.5-ounce cans) to slow cooker.
  3. When ground beef is browned, drain off grease into a can from the previous step. Add cooked beef to slow cooker.
  4. Peel and dice onion, then add to slow cooker.
  5. Season chili with cocoa powder (about a tablespoon), chili powder (about 4 tablespoons), granulated garlic (about a teaspoon and a half), salt (about a teaspoon), oregano (about a teaspoon), and optionally red pepper flakes (about a half-teaspoon) and cayenne pepper (about a half-teaspoon). All seasoning measurements are approximate; adjust to your taste.
  6. Cook on low heat at least six hours, stirring occasionally.