Three Bean Chili

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Spicy beef and three bean chili comes together quickly on the stovetop or can simmer all day in the slow cooker for a body-warming meal.

chili in white bowl with cheese on top

Three Bean Chili

Okay, beans or no beans chili people. Let’s hear it, how do you like your chili? Seriously though I love so many versions of chili from no beans, to beans to white chicken chili. I am drawn to the warming feeling and spicy flavors of chili.

I am just going to say it – chili without beans though is just a spicy meat sauce. Let the debate begin.

While kidney beans have become synonymous with chili and will hold their own in a pinch. I do prefer skipping the kidney beans and using a few different types of beans for my chili.

Ranch beans, or chili beans are pinto beans that have been cooked in a rich flavorful chili sauce. You can often find them in mild or hot. I have seen them with jalapeno peppers which adds a nice heat.

Whatever you do, do not drain or rinse your ranch beans. The liquid or sauce they are in is full of spices and delicious flavors. Pour it all into the pot.

White beans and black beans round out the beans component of the chili. Don’t drain your white beans either. The liquid they are in is slightly creamy and starchy. It helps thicken the chili a bit as it cooks.

chili in pottery bowl with black and white striped towel

Slow Cooker Chili

Chili is one of those recipes that I have my “standard” format for but then depending on what I have on hand or need to use up it gets changed.

While ground beef is our preference, ground turkey works well or leftover steak will turn into a steak and bean chili. Have a jar of salsa or pico de Gallo that needs used? Just add it in.

It is a meal that each of my kids customizes and eats differently. One prefers very little liquid and puts the beef and bean mixture over romaine lettuce and tops it with shredded cheese, chips, and sour cream.

Another turns it into chili nachos every single time. If there are no tortilla chips in the house for that kid to dip into something he might starve. Chili on chips with lots of cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, and green onions. He makes a plate I would happily steal!

Slow cookers or crockpots are an appliance of which I have more than one. If you are an avid slow cooker user like I am, you might understand the need for more than one. So, let’s talk about my favorites:

First up is this 6-quart slow cooker that has a locking lid. These crockpots are fantastic for transporting foods. Mine has gone everywhere from church potlucks to barbecues, game nights to Thanksgiving dinner. However, fair warning, these slow cookers run crazy hot. Low is closer to a boil than a simmer, the warm setting actually simmers. So trust me when I say HIGH is high.

My everyday slow cooker is this 8-quart Crockpot. It’s my go-to appliance for cooking large roasts and big batches of chili. Fun fact: did you know that a full 4-quart cooker, actually cooks more slowly than a half-full 8-quart cooker?

For just cooking a few pounds of chicken to shred for enchiladas or other smaller recipes, this 3-quart version is perfect.

If you aren’t a fan of the idea of keeping more than one slow cooker in the house, these CrockPockets are a game-changer when it comes to preparing and holding multiple dishes at the same time. They slide into a standard 6-quart crockpot, dividing it into two sections that are perfect for serving different side dishes or keeping taco fillings warm for parties.

crockpot chili in bowl with spoon and sour cream

Slow Cooker Three Bean Chili

The ingredients for slow cook chili are a pretty standard list. Except I really like to use taco seasoning instead of straight chili powder. My family loves the depth of flavors and spiciness it brings. Our favorite taco seasoning is this homemade blend.

  • ground beef
  • taco seasoning
  • ranch-style pinto beans or chili beans
  • white beans
  • black beans
  • tomato sauce
  • diced tomatoes
  • diced tomatoes with green chile
chili with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro in white bowl

Three Bean Chili Recipe

The instructions are super simple:

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning as it cooks.
  2. Combine the cooked meat with the pinto beans, white beans, black beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomatoes with green chile in the crock-pot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and stir to combine.
  3. Cook on LOW for 8-12 hours. Serve with the toppings of your choice or warm cornbread. Enjoy!
chili in bowl with spoon

Note: This recipe scales beautifully to feed a crowd and leftovers are always a plus. Serve them the next day or freeze them in individual servings for a quick dinner.

If you prefer to make this on the stovetop, just follow the directions, and instead of transferring it to your slow cooker simmer on the stovetop for 30 minutes or so. Your house will smell amazing!

Serve with warm cornbread or these garden chive rolls for a meal everyone is certain to love.

chili in bowl with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro

Three Bean Chili

Spicy beef and three bean chili comes together quickly on the stovetop or can simmer all day in the slow cooker for a body-warming meal.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 hrs
Total Time: 10 hrs 20 mins
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 servings, depending on size

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons taco seasoning divided
  • 14 ounces canned ranch-style pinto beans or chili beans, do not drain
  • 14 ounces canned white beans, do not drain
  • 14 ounces canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 14 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 10 ounces canned diced tomatoes with green chile

Optional Toppings

  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • sliced green onions
  • chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning as it cooks.
  • Combine the cooked meat with the pinto beans, white beans, black beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomatoes with green chile in the crock-pot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and stir to combine.
  • Cook on LOW for 8-12 hours. Serve with the toppings of your choice or warm cornbread. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 318kcal · Carbohydrates: 33g · Protein: 20g · Fat: 12g · Saturated Fat: 5g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g · Monounsaturated Fat: 5g · Trans Fat: 1g · Cholesterol: 40mg · Sodium: 780mg · Potassium: 882mg · Fiber: 10g · Sugar: 5g · Vitamin A: 574IU · Vitamin C: 10mg · Calcium: 120mg · Iron: 5mg
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crock-pot chili in bowl with toppings

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