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New England Slow-Cooker Chili


Chef notes

This slow-cooker chili is perfect for game-day entertaining. Set it out with your choice of toppings and let guests serve themselves.


  • 2 thick slices bacon, finely chopped, divided
  • 2 pounds ground beef (85%-90% lean)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground medium-hot chilies, such as ancho, guajillo and/or New Mexico
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted



Put half the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir until the bottom of the pan is shiny with bacon fat, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and spread out so that it covers the pan, season with salt and pepper. As soon as the bottom is cooked, about 3 minutes, chop and toss it around just long enough for the meat to lose any sign of pink color, about 5 minutes (you decide how big you want to keep the chunks. Larger chunks gives you more to chew but will make the finished chili thinner. The finer you chop the meat the thicker your finished chili will be). Scrape the meat and all its juices into a 3-quart or larger slow cooker.


Place the skillet back over medium-high heat. Stir in the rest of the chopped bacon and cook until it starts to brown. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, ground chilies, cumin, coriander and corn meal and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir in the brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, honey, mustard, vinegar, broth and canned tomatoes, and simmer for 1 minute or so. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Pour into the slow cooker and stir everything to combine.


Cook on high for 4-5 hours or 8 hours on low. About 30 minutes before it's ready to be done, take a taste. If you want it spicier you can add more ground chilies.