Monday, September 17, 2012

Best Crockpot Chili ($0.57 per cup)

$0.57 per cup          40% savings          save $22.37 yearly

Fall is my favorite!

It combines so many of my favorite things: perfect weather, wonderful holidays, family get-togethers, football season, colorful leaves, and comfortable sweaters. Of course there's also the crisp apples, warm soup with fresh bread, pumpkin desserts, pies, apple cider and hot chocolate, and of course a huge pot of perfectly thick, flavorful, knock-your-socks-off, healthy chili.

One of the coolest things about this chili (besides the fact that it tastes AMAZING), is that it is made with dried red beans, instead of canned sodium-infused beans. Don't get me wrong, canned beans definitely have their place in our home. But with this recipe, it's just as easy to use the dried ones as it would be to open a can. So why not go for the healthier option? Plus, it allows me to rotate through my extra storage of food that I keep on hand in case of an emergency. (Dried beans are perfect for long-term food storage.)

You might be groaning inwardly thinking, "Uuuugh... dried beans take forever! I don't want to take time to soak them overnight before I get to use them." 

Believe me, I'm all about the whole "one less step" concept. 

I simply rinse my dry beans in colander, pick out the few beans that might look a little off, dump them in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients, and forget about them. The beans in this recipe take, literally, 30 seconds to prepare. Now, you may still choose to soak your beans beforehand. I've done it both ways, and have enjoyed it both ways. 

I'm kinda sneaky with my chili. Do you see any carrots in that photo? No? That's funny. There's half a pound of 'em in there. How 'bout green peppers? Spy any of those? One or two bits, maybe? There are 2 entire (large) green peppers in this chili. There's also a boat-load of tomatoes, a moderate amount of lean ground beef, and a ton of dry red beans to boot. So, yes... it's nutritious and delicious, and the kids (and husband) won't have a clue.

When I first served this to my unsuspecting husband, and he gave his positive verdict, I told him about the carrots and his reaction what priceless. Complete and utter incredulity. He had no idea, and couldn't taste them at all! The kids were oblivious as well, and didn't even notice the peppers.

This recipe makes 5 meals for my family, and is perfect for freezing and reheating on busy days. 

Best Crockpot Chili

*Makes about 5 quarts (20 cups)

1 lb dry red beans (small bag - NOT kidney beans)
2 lbs ground beef (I used 97% lean)
2 medium onions, diced
2 Tbsp. jarred minced garlic
2 large green bell peppers, diced
1/2 lb (5 medium) carrots, finely grated
2 - 30 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. black pepper
2-3 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 
5-6 cups hot water water

Rinse beans in a colander. Pick out any bad beans. Let set in the colander.

In a large pan, brown the hamburger with the diced onions. Drain any excess fat.

Turn your crockpot on the "HIGH" heat setting. Add all the ingredients to the crockpot. Stir. Remove any floating beans. 

Cook on "HIGH" for 2 hours and "LOW" for 5 hours.
Cook for 10 hours on "LOW."

Serve warm with cheese, sour cream, chives, cilantro, or avocado. Refrigerate leftovers or scoop into freezer-friendly ziplock bags and reheat another day.

~ Savings ~

Cost Breakdown
1 lb dry red beans = $1.08
2 lb 97% lean ground beef (on sale) = $4.00
2 large green peppers = $0.58 each = $1.16
2 lb whole carrots = $1.48 - $0.74/lb = $0.37
3 lb bag onions = $1.96 - $0.245 ea = $0.49
9.25 oz. chili powder = $5.64 - approx 74 tsp - $0.076/tsp = $0.457
30 oz. can crushed tomatoes - $1.24 = $2.48
2 oz. cumin - $3.12 = 22 tsp = $0.142/tsp = $0.851
32 oz. jar minced garlic- $4.48 = 181 tsp = $0.025/tsp = $0.149
8 oz. black pepper - $3.84 = 37.75 tsp = $0.102/tsp = $0.204
26 oz. salt - $0.42 = 122.75 tsp = $0.003/tsp = $0.027
1.75 oz. cayenne pepper - $4.98 = 19 tsp = $0.262/tsp = 0.131
Total Recipe Cost: $11.40
Cost Per Cup: $0.57

The Contender:
Hormel Chili with Beans (15 oz.) = $1.65
Cost per Cup: $0.94

Savings: 40%

"Over a Year" Scenario:
Make Best Crockpot Chil 3 times = $34.20
Eat equivalent Hormel Chili with Beans = $56.57
*Money Saved: $22.37


  1. I'm having fun checking out your site. I was looking for a good chili recipe . . . can't wait to try this one out! Pinning it too, so I don't forget. :)

  2. Hello,
    Great job on the recipes. As far as the crock-pot chili is concerned it sounds like a great recipe! I would caution however about using kidney beans in the crock pot. I know you mention "red beans" but often enough people associate kidney beans with chili. Red kidney beans in particular need to be brought to 180 degrees which most crock-pots on low does not accomplish. Nobody wants to spread sickness! :)

    1. Thanks for the tip. I guess since I use dried beans so much, and am aware of all the different kinds, I didn't even think to make a distinction (since kidney and red beans are two different types of beans). I'll clarify it in my post. THANKS!

  3. I think I love your blog! ! found you through moneysavingmom--thanks for frugal and easy recipes! I'm going to see if I can subscribe to you :)

    1. Thanks, Evelania! I'm happy you found me. ;)

  4. I have a very picky (husband) eater. Do the carrots cook down or can you still see them in the chili?

  5. how are you able to fit both cans of crushed tomatoes and the water? i've made this recipe twice and can only fit one can of crushed tomatoes.

    1. Hi Alyssa,

      Sorry for the slow reply. I've had family in town all weekend. :) The two cans just barely fit. Have you checked your crockpot size? I'm not sure why it won't fit for you. One option might be adding a little less water to accomodate the tomatoes. Good luck!

  6. I made this tonight and wanted to let you know that it was a hit at our house. I only had one can of tomatoes, so I added a little extra beef broth to mine. I was very excited to see how all the veggies cooked down and became invisible. I was able to finely dice the carrots, bell peppers and onion in my food processor and that made things super easy. This was my first try at using dry beans in a chili and WOW. I've made a ton of chili in my day, and have tried many many recipes. This one is my new favorite. I will never go back to using canned kidney beans ever again!! These dry red beans were fantastic. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  7. Hello,
    You have some lovely frugal ideas. Thank you for sharing. I add 1/2 c of pumpkin puree to my chile.......and it gives such a rich flavor, but my family never suspects it is so healthy. It does add a bit to the cost, but worth it.
    may your days be infused with harmony.

    1. Thank you, Sherrylynne,
      I love the pumpkin puree idea. I tend to stock up on canned pumpkin between Halloween and Thanksgiving when it's less expensive. Can't wait for the day I can grown my own pumpkins though. :)

  8. Hi, I'm trying this recipe tomorrow but I prepared the veggies tonight so I can just throw it all in. My question is how finely grated do the carrots need to be? I hand grated them with my crummy hand grater bc I don't have a food processor and the chunks are relatively course. Will it be okay?

    1. It will be perfectly okay. I hope you enjoy it!

  9. I bought quite a bit of ground turkey when it was on sale. Do you think that would work?

    1. That would work great!... So long as you like ground turkey. ;)


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