Slow Cooker Taco Spice Chili

a ladle full of taco spice chili in the slow cooker

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.

taco spice chili in a white bowl with a spoon

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.

browned ground turkey in a skillet with a wood spoon

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

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.

taco spice chili in a slow cooker with a ladle

Bring it home with a big satisfying scoop. Make sure you serve this with skillet cornbread!

More Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes

clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon heart heart icon heart solid heart solid icon
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


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


  • 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 sauce*
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I 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)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.


  1. Freezing Instructions: Chili freezes wonderfully for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat in a large pot on medium heat for 20-30 minutes.
  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 things.
  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 10 more minutes. Serve warm.

Keywords: slow cooker chili, taco chili, crockpot chili


  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!

    1. Diced avocado on top would be SOOOO GOOD. Good call Christine!

  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. Carlos At Spoonabilities says:

    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?

    1. Definitely!

  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?


    1. 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. 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.

  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!

    1. Hi Liz! So glad you enjoyed this chili!

  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!

    1. It always makes me so happy to hear when children enjoy my recipes – they are the harshest critics 😉

  11. This looks amazing! How do you think it’d hold up in a tortilla, almost like a burrito?

    1. If you don’t use all of the liquid it would be great! Enjoy!

  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!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy it, Lisa! I hope he loves it too!

  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!

      1. Susan Shortley says:

        Thank you! Love your site. My grand kids can’t get enough of your sugar cookies!

  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. This was a hit when I made it last month! Thank you!
    I wanted to make a lot of it (double batch) to give away to family members who loved it, freeze, and have at the house this week. Do you think a double batch would fit in a 7QT crockpot? Or am I better off doing two separate batches? If you think double in my crockpot would work, is the cooking time (7 hrs on low) enough?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Reem, we would make two separate batches for best results! Would love to hear how it goes.

1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love



Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally