Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Slow Cooker Taco Spice Chili

Or try my favorite slow cooker chicken chili recipe.

Let the crockpot do all the cooking for dinner with this crazy flavorful slow cooker taco spice chili recipe!

In between all the dessert and cookies lately, I’ve been depending on my slow cooker at suppertime. My crockpot typically sits in the pantry, but it now claims a permanent spot on the counter. You see, my oven is always preoccupied. (Looking at you, cookie addiction.) Dinner doesn’t stand a chance in there. In fact, I even started making my baked chicken teriyaki in the slow cooker. Put it all in the crockpot. Cook 6 hours on low. Then shred the chicken. Cook 1 more hour. OH SO TASTY teriyaki. ♥

Slow cookers save the day for most of us; they make life easy. Dinner is already on its way once breakfast is over. A slow cooker helps us feel like we have our act together. A slow cooker feels like magic.

Let the crockpot do all the cooking for dinner with this crazy flavorful slow cooker taco spice chili recipe!

And chili… that’s magic too. It’s a staple meal because it requires little thought and prep. There’s only 2 of us, so leftovers feed for days making it one of the most convenient and practical options. Slow cooker chicken chili is typically our chili choice, but lately I’ve been switching it up for a new variation. Similar flavors, but meatier and chunkier with bolder, brighter, zestier flavors. This taco spice chili is relatively healthy and packed with quinoa, lean ground turkey (you can use beef!), sweet potato, and veggies.

If you have 20 minutes, you can prep this meal and move on to the next item on your to-do list. *Crossing fingers that item is cupcakes for dessert.* The first step is to cook the ground meat. Do this on the stove in a super hot pan. Oil and heat it first, then drop the meat in. Right before it’s fully cooked, add taco seasoning.

Turkey for slow cooker taco spice chili on

Slow cooker taco spice chili on

You can make your own taco seasoning or buy it from the store. You’ll need 2 Tablespoons for the meat and 2 Tablespoons for the chili. If using store-bought packets, 2 packets is enough for the entire recipe.

There’s also black beans and corn for a southwestern feel (**Chili’s style**), green pepper, onion, tomatoes, sweet potato, and quinoa. Sweet potato is optional, but adds another texture and makes this a heartier dish. I add quinoa toward the end of cooking time. This is optional too, but here’s why quinoa is a good idea: it soaks up a lot of liquid so the chili is thicker, chunkier, more delish.

There’s a fiesta of bold spice flavor in the chili, too. Flavor’s most definitely kicked into high gear when you add 2 more Tablespoons of taco seasoning, some ground cumin, jalapeño, and chili spice.

Let the crockpot do all the cooking for dinner with this crazy flavorful slow cooker taco spice chili recipe!

Bringing it home with a big satisfying scoop. Can’t wait to hear what you think about this one!

Slow Cooker Taco Spice Chili


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds 92-97% lean ground turkey (or beef)
  • 4 Tablespoons taco seasoning, divided (2 standard packets or make your own!)
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (7 or 8 ounce) can tomato sauce1
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I use reduced sodium)2
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (14 ounce) can corn (drained and rinsed) or 1 package of frozen corn
  • 1 (14 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small jalapeño, minced (remove seeds and ribs)3
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 hour before finishing: 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the ground meat. Cook for 4 minutes, then add 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning. Using a wooden spoon, break the meat up as it cooks. Allow it to cook completely, about 4-5 more minutes. You want it completely cooked.
  2. Transfer the cooked meat to a 5 quart or larger slow cooker. (Here's one I own and love!) Add the remaining ingredients-- including the remaining taco seasoning and except for the quinoa. Stir everything together until combined. Cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  3. Stir in the quinoa. Cook for 1 more hour on low or 30 more minutes on high.
  4. Serve chili warm topped with chopped green onion, shredded cheese, and/or sour cream. And serve alongside my favorite cornbread! Keep leftovers in a large tupperware in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat in the microwave.

Freezing: Chili freezes beautifully for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat in a large pot on medium heat for 20-30 minutes.

Recipe Notes:

  1. You can use homemade tomato sauce instead of canned.
  2. You can use vegetable or beef broth instead of chicken broth.
  3. If spicy isn't your thing, leave out the jalapeño! Or add more based on how spicy you like things.

No slow cooker? No problem! Follow recipe through step 1. You can cook the meat directly in a very large pot or dutch oven and just use that to cook the chili too. Once meat is cooked, add the remaining ingredients except for the quinoa. Stir everything around until combined and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the quinoa and cook for 10 more minutes. Serve warm.

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More save-the-day slow cooker recipes: slow cooker cinnamon rolls | chicken corn chowder | bbq turkey meatballs | slow cooker hot chocolate | chicken chili

You’ll also love my lightened-up creamy chicken noodle soup!

This lightened-up creamy chicken noodle soup has only 200 calories per serving! Recipe on

Let the crockpot do all the cooking for dinner with this crazy flavorful slow cooker taco spice chili recipe!


  1. This chili is cooking away right now and it smells fantastic! One question about the quinoa: everything I’ve heard/read about quinoa emphasizes rinsing and draining the quinoa before using (the package of quinoa says it, too, and America’s Test Kitchen says you want to do this to take away natural bitterness, I think). Do you rinse your quinoa? Do you find it makes a difference? Thanks!

    PS–I’m a big fan of your site; you are now my go-to source for new baked goods to try! 🙂

  2. This looks fabulous, Sally! I saw this the other day and just now had time to come back and take a look. I love the Southwestern take on chili! I suspect this would be really good topped with avocado and cilantro too. Will definitely be giving this a try one night!

    I have a slow cooker but I am one of those paranoid people who have pets and sit at work all day imagining all of the things that the pets could do to the slow cooker that would set the house on fire or injure the pet, etc!

  3. I just made it today and it was fantastic! I made it in pressure cooker instead of slow cooker, 30 minutes + 10 minutes after adding the quinoa. My tastebuds are still dancing. Thanks Sally.

  4. The taco spice chili looks so delicious, I have a slow cooker but is still in the box; I think this recipe will be the perfect time to give a good use of the slow cooker.

  5. Do you think using brown rice instead of the quinoa would work?

  6. No a big fan of black beams. Could you suggest a substitute? Also when cooking the meat, do you drain any fat out before transferring to the crockpot?


    • I use very lean ground turkey, so there isn’t much fat– but I would drain it out if you have any in your pan. What about kidney beans instead?

  7. Made this chili yesterday. Very good recipe, thank you so much Sally! I am in Wisconsin, so of course I added noodles and I always add a can of pork & beans to chili. I enjoy your blog and email so much.

  8. Loved this recipe as written!  (I used beef).  For personal preference, I would probably reduce the cumin next time.  Love the addition of quinoa.  This made a ton, too!  Thanks!

  9. This was delicious, thanks so much! Lunches for the week are covered. 🙂

  10. The whole family has decided this is out favorite chili recipe! We’ve been eating it leftover all week. Even my one year old is scarfing it down!

  11. I totally should have looked at the serving size first lol tried to invite the in laws but they’re not game… I hope I have enough Tupperware lol 

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