Root for the Home Team with the Best Slow Cooker Game Day Chili

It is prime slow cooker season, and I couldn’t be more happy about that fact.

This is the time of year when I like to leave all of my meal prep to the slow cooker or my Instant Pot. The stews, the soups, the slow cooked deliciousness of bold meats… it all makes for a dinner that will warm you up from the inside out.

Overhead vertical shot of a gray ceramic bowl of beef chili topped with chopped cilantro and shredded cheese, with bowls of corn chips, sour cream, and diced green pepper in the background, on a white cloth on top of a brown wood surface, printed with orange and white text.

One of my favorite traditions is spending Sundays in the fall and winter watching football. We bounce around to various games, snuggle up on the couch, and watch as our fantasy football teams explode or totally take a dive.

It’s a very emotional day for my husband and I as we root on our favorite teams, praying that for this week we can declare ourselves victorious both at home and in our fantasy lineups.

To make sure we survive a day of turmoil and/or joy, I like to have a big ol’ Crock-Pot full of chili going all day long. It’s honestly the ideal bowl of warmth to snuggle up with.

Overhead shot of a slow cooker filled with beef chili in a red sauce with a black plastic ladle, on a striped white kitchen towel with frings, next to several small bowls of toppings including corn chips, chopped green bell pepper, shredded cheese, sour cream with a spoon, and chopped cilantro, with a portion dished out in a gray bowl, on a brown striped surface.

The full flavor of the chili develops as you cook it, and will keep melding together as it sits on the warm setting throughout the day.

Chili is the one comfort food that I simply can’t resist. Whenever it warms up and fill my home with that classic scent, I get an instant feeling of happiness in my heart and soul.

Overhead vertical closely cropped shot of a bowl of beef chili with smaller bowls of corn chips, sour cream, diced green bell pepper, and shredded cheese, on a white kitchen towel with a pink stripe, with a stainless steel and black plastic slow cooker in the background, on a light brown wood surface.

There’s something about the combination of vegetables, meat, and bold spices that makes for a truly unique bowl of comfort. And no matter what I do, I will always be the gal who puts Fritos all over her chili.

I love the crunchy goodness that the crisp corn chips provide in contrast to the warm and luxurious chili. You can also add cheese, sour cream, cilantro, or even some spicy diced jalapenos for a little extra heat in the mix.

Vertical oblique shot of a gray ceramic soup bowl filled with chili topped with Fritos with a spoon stuck into it, with smaller bowls of sour cream, corn chips, and chopped green bell pepper next to a stainless steel slow cooker in the background, on a white kitchen towel, on top of a brown wood surface.

This is an ideal recipe for game day because you can keep it warm throughout the afternoon and night, depending on how many games you are watching. Keep snacking on it, and you will stay fueled all day long.

It also makes for an easy, no hassle recipe to serve when you have a bunch of people over for the big game. Guests can easily serve themselves, and you can make it even more fun with a festive setup – see more on that idea below.

Closeup vertical oblique shot of a gray ceramic bowl of chili topped with shredded cheese, diced green bell pepper, and finely chopped cilantro, on a brown wood countertop with a bowl of sour cream in soft focus in the background.

If you like your chili with beans, you can easily add some of your favorite type of the canned variety (about 2 cups drained). Remember to add an additional cup of beef broth as well, to keep the chili from becoming too thick.

You can even simply substitute 1 cup of beans for the bell pepper, if that is your personal preference.

A forkful of beef stew is being held up to the camera with the rest in a gray ceramic bowl in the background.

That’s the magic of chili. It can always be changed and modified based on what your flavor preferences are, and the ingredients that you have on hand.

So, what are you waiting for? Hurry on out to the store to grab everything you need to make this upcoming game day even more special.

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Overhead shot of a bowl of chili with smaller bowls of shredded cheese and chopped fresh cilantro, on a striped light brown wood surface.

Slow Cooker Game Day Chili

  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x


When it comes time to root for your favorite team, you need the best slow cooker game day chili recipe to keep yourself fueled and cheering. Read more now.


  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 lbs lean beef stew meat
  • 2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 8-oz can tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Optional Toppings:

  • Diced jalapeno
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Fritos


  1. Place all ingredients except the optional toppings in a slow cooker, and stir well to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours.
  3. Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Shred it with two forks, and then return to the slow cooker. Stir to distribute the beef well throughout the chili.
  4. Serve warm with desired toppings. I like to top mine with Fritos, but you can also use tortilla chips for crunch. Serve this dish with cornbread, rolls, rice, or tortillas, depending on your chili-eating preferences.


Nutritional information calculated below does not include optional toppings.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: Chili
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Comfort Food

Keywords: game day, beef, Instant Pot, Crock-Pot, slow cooker

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prepare Vegetables and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Mince 3 cloves of garlic. Set aside.

Peel and dice the yellow onion. Set it aside.

Overhead vertical shot of two cans of diced tomatoes, two cans of tomato paste, a yellow onion, a head of garlic, a square glass dish of various spices, a green bell pepper, and two Styrofoam trays of beef stew meat.

Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper. Dice and set aside.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as they are listed in the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Add to Slow Cooker

Place all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, except for the optional toppings.

Overhead closely cropped shot of a slow cooker filled with ingredients including beef stew meat, chopped onion, and spices.

Stir well to combine.

Closeup closely cropped overhead shot of a stainless steel and black plastic slow cooker filled with red canned tomatoes and tomato paste, and diced green bell pepper.

Cover and cook for 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high.

Overhead shot of beef and vegetables in a vibrant red tomato sauce, in the stainless steel insert of a slow cooker with a black plastic frame.

You can also make this recipe, and many of your favorite chili recipes, in your electric pressure cooker. Add all ingredients to the Instant Pot insert and stir to combine. Cook on manual pressure for 30 minutes.

Step 3 – Shred Beef

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and transfer it to a cutting board.

Two forks are being used to shred cooked beef stew meat in a stainless steel mixing bowl with a ring handle.

Use two forks to shred the meat, then return it to the slow cooker.

Step 4 – Finish Stew

Stir well to distribute the beef well throughout the chili.

Overhead shot of beef stew in a red sauce in the stainless steel insert of a slow cooker with a black plastic housing unit, on a brown background.

Serve warm with desired toppings.

Having a Party? Make a Chili Bar

If you are having lots of people over for the big game, you can make this meal even more fun by creating a customizable chili bar.

Overhead shot of a stainless steel and black plastic slow cooker of chili, surrounded by a gray ceramic serving bowl of the stew beside smaller bowls of sour cream, yellow corn chips, diced green bell pepper, shredded white and yellow cheese, and finely chopped fresh cilantro, on a white kitchen towel with pink stripes and fringe, on a light brown striped wooden countertop.

Make this recipe in the slow cooker, and keep it on low or warm so it will be ready to eat throughout the game.

Next, set out all the toppings you can think of. All of my favorites are listed below, but you can really do anything. Get creative!

Overhead shot of a bowl of chili with smaller bowls of shredded cheese and chopped fresh cilantro, on a striped light brown wood surface.

  • Fritos, tortilla chips, or even Goldfish crackers
  • Diced jalapenos or sliced pickled jalapenos
  • Shredded or crumbled cheese (cheddar, cotija, Mexican blend, colby jack, etc.)
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema
  • Tortillas and/or cornbread to serve alongside
  • Sliced avocado
  • Diced red onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Hot sauce
  • Chopped crispy bacon
  • Sliced green onion

Looking for even more delicious chili recipes? Don’t miss these tasty options!

How do you like your chili? Tell us what your favorite topping combination is below. Be sure to rate the recipe as soon as you try it.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 12, 2014. Last updated: November 23, 2023 at 10:46 am.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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