Wednesday, before I went outside to dig out of the snow once again, I threw this black bean chili recipe together in my slow cooker. I didn’t follow a specific recipe; I just added ingredients into my old Rival Crock Pot that I figured would make a good chili.

It turned out to be one of the best batches of chili I’ve ever made. I’m glad I had the foresight to write down the ingredients as I threw them in. I don’t always remember to do that when I’m cooking without a recipe.

When the chili was done cooking, it was very flavorful, but not particularly spicy. I added some Sriracha and let it cook about a half hour more. The addition didn’t make it too hot, but it added a nice bite. Depending on how spicy you like your chili, you can add it or not at the end.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 4-5 hours

Total time: about 5 hours

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Half a large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I used jarred chopped garlic)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 cup of dried black beans that have been hydrated and drained)
  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha, if desired (You can add more or less, depending on your personal taste)


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium/high. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic to onion, and cook about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add ground beef to the onion/garlic mixture and cook until the beef is just browned through.
  4. Drain the beef mixture and add to a 4-quart slow cooker.
  5. Add the black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and lime juice.
  6. Mix all ingredients well. Put the lid on and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Halfway through the cooking time, you can lift the lid and stir, but don’t do it more than once.
  7. When the chili is done cooking, taste it. If you want a little more heat, add Sriracha to taste and cook for another half hour to allow the flavors to incorporate.

My notes

  • Earlier this month, I told you how to freeze tomato paste. I was able to use four of the tablespoon-size portions of tomato paste from my freezer in this recipe instead of having to open a new can. If you make this and open a can of tomato paste for it, try freezing the remainder instead of throwing it away.
  • This recipe could easily be doubled and cooked in a larger, 6-quart slow cooker.

Is there anything you’d recommend adding to a chili like this one?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili
Throw this recipe together in about 15 minutes and then let the flavors slowly combine throughout the day.