Slow Cooker Taco Spice Chili

Packed with quinoa, lean ground turkey (or use ground beef), black beans, tender vegetables, and a little jalapeño heat, this slow cooker taco spice chili is satisfying and full of nourishment. Prepare it in your slow cooker in the morning, so all those savory ingredients come together and stand out by dinnertime.

a ladle full of taco spice chili in the slow cooker

Do you rely on your slow cooker a lot? It’s our top choice when it comes to preparing favorite dinner recipes like creamy chicken & corn soup and honey teriyaki chicken. Today’s flavorful chili requires little thought and prep – plus, the leftovers feed for days, making it one of the most convenient and practical options. And if you enjoy variations on the chili theme, the meaty and chunky slow cooker chicken chili is too good to pass up.


Slow Cooker Taco Spice Details

  • Texture & Flavor: A bowl of intensely flavored and warmly spiced chili is a quintessential comfort food– and this hearty taco spice chili delivers! Each spoonful is packed with tender ground turkey, sweet potato, peppers, and black beans. The rich and well-seasoned base is balanced with the natural sweetness of the sweet potato and corn.
  • Ease: This is a pretty simple chili recipe. Prep/chop your ingredients, brown the turkey, then toss everything into the slow cooker.
  • Toppings: Toppings such as sharp cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, and/or sour cream cut through and complement the richness and spice. We love adding chopped green onion on top too.

taco spice chili in a white bowl with a spoon

Choosing the Right Ingredients for Taco Spice Chili

With so many wholesome ingredients mingling in this one-pot dish, this chili is truly the sum of its parts. It is also very forgiving, so you can change it up for a version of your own. For example, you could swap out the black beans for kidney beans, replace the quinoa with another grain, or add in your favorite vegetables. Our vegetarian pumpkin chili is also pretty adaptable.

  • Green pepper, onion, and tomatoes: These aromatic staples make the foundation of most chili recipes. We use and recommend canned petite diced tomatoes.
  • Black beans: These beans have a mild flavor, which allows them to pair nicely with bright, spicy flavors. 
  • Corn: Corn introduces a soft, buttery contrast, and, along with black beans, give the chili a comforting southwestern flavor. (For a similarly flavored dish, you might enjoy this chopped chicken salad.)
  • Sweet potato: This ingredient is optional, but it adds a little sweetness, texture, and heartiness.
  • Quinoa: Add quinoa toward the end of cooking time. This ingredient is optional, but keep in mind that it soaks up a lot of liquid, which makes the chili extra thick and satisfying.
  • Taco seasoning: Chili can be flavorless without a medley of spices. You can make your own taco seasoning or buy it from the store. This chili kicks into high gear with 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning for the meat and 2 Tablespoons for the chili itself. If using store-bought packets, 2 packets is enough for the entire recipe.

browned ground turkey in a skillet with a wood spoon

2 images of ingredients in bowls and ingredients in a slow cooker

taco spice chili in a slow cooker with a ladle

And no matter what, make sure you serve taco spice chili with buttery cornbread, buttermilk biscuits, or this honey skillet cornbread.


More Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes

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taco spice chili in a slow cooker with a ladle

Slow Cooker Taco Spice Chili

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Chili
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Packed with quinoa, lean ground turkey (or use ground beef), black beans, tender vegetables, and a little jalapeño heat, this slow cooker taco spice chili is satisfying and full of nourishment. Prepare it in your slow cooker in the morning, so all those savory ingredients come together and stand out by dinnertime.


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin 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 sauce*
  • 2 cups chicken broth (we use reduced sodium)*
  • 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)*
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 hour before finishing: 1/2 cup uncooked & rinsed quinoa

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the ground meat. Cook and stir for 4 minutes, then add 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning. Stir and break up the meat as it cooks for another 4-5 more minutes, or until completely cooked through.
  2. Transfer the cooked meat to a 5 quart or larger slow cooker. 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, sour cream, and/or avocado slices. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Let chili cool before freezing. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then heat on the stove on medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Tomato Sauce: You can use homemade tomato sauce instead of canned.
  3. Broth: You can use vegetable or beef broth instead of chicken broth.
  4. Spiciness: If spicy isn’t your thing, leave out the jalapeño. Or add more based on how spicy you like chili.
  5. 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 15 more minutes. Serve warm.

Keywords: slow cooker chili, taco chili, crockpot chili

25 Comments

  1. Penny Schulte says:

    Made this chili for dinner tonight and it was really delicious!! I had ground pork on hand so I used that instead of turkey. I love the sweet potato and quinoa additions. I also made my own chili seasoning as suggested. So healthy and yummy!! Thank you Sally and Happy New Year! 🙂

  2. Made this today. It was great! My slow cooker cooks a lot faster and/or hotter that most apparently. I think It was done about 2 hours earlier that the cook time. So, I will make adjustment for that. I used pork in mine as well, and my hubby loved it!

  3. Anna Cisneros says:

    Thank you Sally!! After loving your slow cooker chicken chili, I’ve been searching for another good chili recipe. Well, I made this today and OMG!!!

  4. This is my new favorite chili recipe!! I made it over the weekend and it is so good. I love the taco seasonings with the sweet potato and corn. I’m so excited to have it for lunch this week. Another winner, Sally!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

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

    1. Definitely!

  8. Joanne Schaefer says:

    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.

  9. 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!

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

  11. 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!

  12. We made this for dinner last night because I wanted to test some of the recipes in your Freezer Meal prep post in advance of baby #2’s arrival later this year. I was nervous how my husband would react to non-traditional chili, but we both really liked it! We added shredded cheese and chopped green onions on top. I think it was even better tonight because the flavors deepened. I really like the addition of quinoa. I also really like how many veggies are hiding in plain sight! This is a great recipe. Thank you!

    1. I’m so happy you both liked it, Susan! It’s perfect for freezer meals!

  13. Hi,
    Do you think it would be ok to cook for longer on low – like 10 hours? Or should I just let it cook for the 7 and leave it to warm?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Alma! I suggest sticking to the 7 hours then keeping it on warm.

  14. Is it possible to swap the meat for extra beans instead? Maybe 2 cans instead of 1 lb of meat?

    1. Yes, that would work! Enjoy 🙂

  15. I have this cooking right now and it smells so good! I was never a fan of chili but the hubby sure is! My test taste may have just converted me. Wow -best chili I have ever had! Can’t wait for him to try it!

  16. This chili is so good! I made it yesterday for the football game. This is definitely my go-to chili recipe! Yummm!

  17. Loved this chili! It was so easy to make and I loved the taco spice variation to a classic recipe. The corn was a nice addition too!

  18. Sue Shortley says:

    Hi Sally, how about using chicken breast instead of ground turkey?

    1. Sure can! You can add them whole and then shred them with two forks at the end of the cook time. Enjoy!

  19. Laura Migliore says:

    I hardly ever find a soup I think compares to my homemade soup, but this recipe is delicious. I made this for my son and daugher in law, the boys have food issues so quinoa was out. Since my son loves broth I did this on the stove top and used the whole 32 oz carton of beef stock. I used ground beef, as I am not a ground turkey fan. I used my homemade taco seasoning, did not add salt, as we were using corn chips to garnish the soup. It was so delicious. Loved the color of the vegetables. It has so much flavor, and will definitely be a repeat in our household.

  20. Laura Migliore says:

    I love to read reviews, but when I see one that changes a lot, I loose interest. However, in this case, I just had to let you know how good this chili turned out. I knew my husband would not eat the quinoa or sweet potato. I decided to make this chili on the stovetop. Just omitted the sweet potato and quinoa, did not drain the diced tomatoes. Omitted the tomato sauce, and used a 4 cup carton of beef stock, as I use ground beef in the recipe. Basically just brought it to a boil, and simmered it. It has got to be the best chili on earth, and my husband said to never make the old chili recipe again. I make my own taco seasoning, which I like so much better than the salty packaged stuff. This chili freezes great. Your recipes are fantastic.

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