Slow Cooker Freezer Meal: Fall Chili


I have been making chili since college. It was one of the very first things I learned how to make. I did not grow up cooking, so when I got to college I had no idea how to feed myself anything other than pre-made, packaged foods.
To remedy that, I hired Jill Welch, a personal chef (aka the Kitchen Goddess and also a home birth midwife) and she gave me a few private cooking lessons.

I have changed her recipe over the years and it has morphed into what is below. I usually only make it once a year on Halloween. It makes a TON of food. I usually cook it fresh (as opposed to assembling and freezing like my other slow cooker freezer recipes) and then we eat of it for several days and then I freeze the leftovers in 2 cup portions. I love making it for Halloween, we usually always have some sort of party before and after trick or treating and it is a such an easy way to feed a lot of people for cheap.

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P.S. I love these bowls and mat for when Penelope eats soup, or in this case chili, since it keeps the bowl in place via a suction cup type thing. She still makes a mess, because she wants to do everything herself, but this eliminates the possibility of the bowl being flung across the table and chili ending up on my curtains.

Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Fall Chili
This makes a ton of chili. As you can see, it fills my 6 quart slow cooker up, which is great, because that means lots of chili to put in the deep freezer!

Fall Chili


  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 4 cups of kidney beans
  • 4 cups of pinto beans
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt
  • chili powder
  • cilantro


  1. Soak beans overnight
  2. Chop all veggies
  3. Add meat, then veggies on top, into slow cooker
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours

If you are interested in more slow cooker freezer recipes check out my cookbook From Your Freezer To Your Family, Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes For Every Season.

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  • The Annessa Family
    November 17, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Great recipe, thanks for sharing!


  • convert photo to 3d
    November 18, 2011 at 5:43 AM

    Amazing dish. Great recipe. It sounds really delicious and spicy. I just fall in love in the food.

  • Sarah
    November 19, 2011 at 2:55 AM

    I just found your blog and I love it! I'm juggling my five-month old, working full time, AND being on a SUPER tight budget, so I'm all over crock pot meals and meals I can freeze for later! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Inelegant_Life
    February 19, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    Do you brown the beef before putting it in? It’s the first recipe I’ve seen that doesn’t mention cooking the beef before putting it in the crockpot.

    • Stephanie
      February 19, 2012 at 9:05 PM

      I do not. It browns just fine in the slow cooker. 🙂

  • Emily
    March 4, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    Would love to make this tonight and don’t have time to soak the beans overnight. Is it possible to use canned kidney and pinto beans instead? Not sure, since I’m new to the slow cooker. Please let me know.

    • Stephanie
      March 5, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      Yes, you can use canned. It is just healthier to use the non-canned kind. Even organic cans have BPA in them. Also, when you soak beans it makes them easier to digest.

  • Karen
    March 13, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    Making this right now for my freezer club – I just addded 2 Tablespoon of chili pepper and 1/2 Tablespoon of salt and a sprinkle of dried cilantro. Does that sounds about right? Thanks so much for sharing your recipes – I am trying to implement more “Nourishing Traditions” principles into my life.

    • Stephanie
      March 13, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      That sounds perfect! Enjoy!

  • Olivia
    September 6, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Do you cook all of it then put leftovers in the freezer? Or do you divide it up?

    • Stephanie
      September 6, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      Yes, this recipe I cook first and then put the leftovers in the freezer. Then I just heat to warm to serve. I put them in individual servings when I put them away in the freezer. It makes a great lunch that way or a dinner for one person when my husband is out of town. 🙂

  • Lauren
    October 20, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    So I’ve got your chili in my crockpot as I type. It smells amazing but I’m a bit perplexed by the lack of liquid. It’s sort of just beans, meat and a few veggies. Did you add stock or water at some point? Thanks!

    • Stephanie
      October 21, 2012 at 1:40 AM

      Usually the juice of the tomatoes is enough for me. If you need to add some stock or water, 1/2 at a time so it doesn’t get soupy, but you shouldn’t need to add anything. 🙂

      • Charlie
        August 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        So, you drain the beans after soaking them, correct? This recipe sounds awesome. I cannot wait to try.

        • Stephanie
          August 22, 2013 at 4:51 PM

          Yup. That rinses off the phytic acid that you got out of the beans during the soaking. This is literally one of my all time favorite recipes.

  • shelby
    March 3, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    I am not sure what BPA is, so I am off to look that up next, but do we not have to worry about the tomato cans having it? or do you mean jars of tomatoes that you have “canned” yourself? Sorry, this is probably silly! I just keep running into more and more things that I need to cut out of our diets lately!

    • Stephanie
      March 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      Not silly at all! The cans at the grocery store, even organic brands, have BPA in them. Glass does not have petro-chemicals in them, so anytime you can buy a glass jar of a canned food items please do. And if you are canning yourself in a glass jar, then that’s even better!

  • Natasha C
    August 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Soooo silly question…but after soaking the beans, drain then add to the the slow cooker?

    • Stephanie
      August 22, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      Yup. See the other question about this. 🙂

  • Marianna Rocha
    August 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    Do you need to stir this at all? I am very new to crock pot cooking and I super scared to leave something all day. I work full time and am a soon to be mom so this sounds right up my ally.

    • Stephanie
      August 22, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      I usually stir it once about half hour before cooking, do a taste test and add some more salt and pepper if I need to, etc.

  • Amy
    August 22, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    This is probably a dumb question but I am just learning some of this. When you say 4 cups of beans, is that before or after soaking and if after, how do you know how much? Last time I tried to make a chili I think it had a similar amount of beans so I soaked 8 cups total and there was no way even half would fit into my crockpot after soaking. What am I doing wrong?

    • Stephanie
      August 22, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      What size is your slow cooker? I have an almost 7 quart one and it fits, but if you have a smaller just cut the portions a bit to fit.

      • Trisha
        October 2, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        Hi there,

        Just trying the recipe and have the same question. Is it 4 cups (each) of dry beans?

        • Stephanie
          October 8, 2014 at 12:14 PM

          Yup! It makes a massive amount of food. I make this for our yearly Halloween party and then freeze the leftovers in one to two cup portions for lunches/dinner to go the rest of winter!

  • Barbara
    August 22, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Sounds yummy. My husband refuses to eat beans, so I always have to make two versions 🙁

    • Stephanie
      August 22, 2013 at 10:20 PM

      Oh, I know all about picky husbands. So much fun to cook for.

  • Holly
    October 16, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    What size cans od crushed tomatoes do you use? The small 15 oz or so… Or the large ones? (24-26 oz?)

    • Stephanie
      October 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      I usually do the small 15 oz, but you could do the larger one too, if you like more tomatoes. You really can’t go wrong by adding more tomatoes. 🙂

  • Erika
    October 15, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    Yum! This sounds – and looks – delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  • Maureen
    October 30, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Prepping this now for tomorrow!! Can’t wait 🙂

  • Melinda
    August 29, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    Logistical question: Is that 4 cups of dry beans, or 4 cups of soaked beans? Eight cups of soaking beans fills my crockpot, and I haven’t even added the other ingredients.

    • Stephanie
      September 1, 2015 at 6:06 AM

      What size slow cooker do you have? I have a 7 quart one and this recipe fills it perfectly. And it can be either soaked or dry or wet from a can beans.