Effortless Chili for Cold Days




This Instructable shows how to make chili with almost no effort whatsoever.  It's tasty, warm, and full of lycopene and other healthy stuff, and it's been tested and proven.  It's also inexpensive ($7-14 for a large pot's worth).

Step 1: Ingredients

You'll need:

  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 large cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 regular cans of red kidney beans
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil
  • 2-4 tbsps of chili powder*
  • Salt


  • Cooked ground beef/turkey
  • Rehydrated Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Cottage cheese or sour cream
  • Chives
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Croutons
  • Bread with a nice crust
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Tabasco sauce

*Here in the States, chili powder is a mixture of spices, so if you're elsewhere in the world, you'll likely have to mix your own (example recipe).

Note: When I worked at a small nonprofit, we would have "Slow Cooker Fridays", and this was the favorite meal to make. The ingredients were divided up.

-Onions, garlic, and olive oil
-Kidney beans
-Bread, croutons, cheese, etc.

I usually brought the chili powder, and there was already salt in the kitchen. If you work in a small office, I highly recommend trying this out with your coworkers. Freshly cooked food is such a relief, and it removes a bit of tension and stress in the office.

Step 2: Microwave Garlic and Onion

Microwave the diced onion and minced garlic until the onion is semi-translucent.

  I microwaved this batch for 3.5 minutes at 70% power.

Tip for Mincing Garlic:
  • Place the garlic clove under the flat portion of the knife and hit the knife quickly with the butt of your hand.
  • Remove the skin of the clove.
  • Return clove under the flat portion of the knife and hit the knife with the butt of your hand until the clove is smashed.
  • Run the knife through the smashed clove until it's fully minced.

Step 3: Pour and Cook

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker including the liquids in the cans.

Note:  If you want meat or TVP, add it at this point.


Cook on low for 3-5 hours.

Serve and garnish.



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    27 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Made this today. Turned out great, even if a little runny. Perhaps liquid content varies by manufacturer for canned goods (I used a cheap house brand)? It also turned out rather spicy for my taste, even with only 2 tbsp. chili powder - will use only 1 in the future. I added ground beef, and sour cream + grated cheddar on top. All in all both me and the wife are very pleased, will definitely be making this again! Thanks for sharing!

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the feedback!

    I noticed that you're in Norway, and I suspect there might be an issue with the "chili powder" you used. Here in the States, "chili powder" is actually a mixture of spices (example mixture), and if you were using pure cayenne, I'm sure it was super spicy. Sorry about that. :(

    As for it being runny, that's how I personally like it (more like soup than stew), but you can definitely drain the cans and adjust the liquid content as you like it. And you're right that liquid amounts vary. Some manufacturers are good about stuffing in lots of product, and others are kinda bad about how much liquid they use.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for clearing things up - and you were right about the chili. My box says: Ingredients: 100% chili powder from ground dried chillies. No mention of what species of peppers, but yeah, it was hot. Live and learn :D


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I tried this and I love it!
    I was wondering what you did with the whole tomatoes, do you typically eat them or just pick them out?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction


    I eat them, and if I get a whole one in my bowl, I'll cut it into large chunks with my spoon.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I don't think this could be fairly called chili, but it is definitely a good looking soup. Chili is short for Chile con Carne, which literally means "Chili pepper with meat". Still, not being a vegan this looks pretty good. I think I might actually try it for dinner tonight.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The crux of this chili recipe is vegan, but if you look at the "Optional" ingredients, there's a list of vegetarian and meat options to add.  I personally can eat a TON of the vegan chili with a big dollop of cottage cheese, and it's MUCH better than any other vegetarian chili I've tried.  I also prefer it to other chilies with meat because I like the chunky, soupy nature of the recipe, and I'm an absolute fiend for tomatoes.  Most chili is a bit too thick for my liking, and I think the "thinness" of this recipe is what would get the chili fanatics after my hide.  Or the inclusion of beans...  However, it's pretty darn healthy, very easy to make, versatile, and tasty even if some people wouldn't consider it to be a "true" chili.  I hope you try it and let me know what you think!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I buy the canned Chili by the case.  If I can make it myself, that would be that much better.


    5 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'll occasionally buy Wolf's for hot dogs or dip, but most canned chili is so disappointing that I opt for this recipe because the worth is much more than the work.

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Personally, I like to put chili on baked potatoes with some shredded cheese on top, microwaved until it is all melted.  I'm drooling.

    Wow, this does look terrific and especially easy since it's done in a slow cooker.

    If you'd like it thicker, could you strain out all the lumpy stuff, thicken the gravy with a cooked roux and then add them back together? I know, it kinda takes away from the easy-cooking aspect....maybe just throw in a tablespoon or two of flour while it's still hot and stir until thickened a bit?

    I personally like this as a soup rather than a thick chili, but creating a roux from the liquid inside the cans should thicken it up quite a bit.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I make mine with cubed chuck roast. I dislike fat so cut all the fat and gristle off and cook it for hours. Otherwise, I just get out the Wolf Brand Chili. Then I use a brown rice base, mix in some shredded cheese and sometimes some Fritos! I used to put finely diced onions but it grieves my stomach too much. Later is WATCH OUT! So, I leave off the raw onions now. Nothing like hot chili on a cold damp Texas day.

    It is.  Everyone who eats this thinks it's super tasty, and they can't believe how easy it is to make.  I've canned a few jars of this as gifts because most people I know don't mind having a few ready-made meals on hand, and it's a cheap, easy gift to make in comparison to its relative value.

    9 years ago on Introduction

    I did not know what Fiesta-ware was till I broke one and had to replace it!
    Now......I'm mostly scared of it.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You shouldn't be scared of it.  It's pretty robust dinnerware.  You can mix-and-match.  It's easy to find modern replacements - the discontinued colors are obviously a little more difficult but still possible to find.  It retains value pretty well.  It's been in production since the 1930s.  And it's not as expensive as Royal Doulton.  There are worse things you could have broken, and in my opinion, when picking out a dinnerware set, you should take replacement into consideration.  That's why I avoid dinnerware at Target and things like that because it inevitably gets discontinued, a piece will inevitably be broken, and there aren't a lot of sellers specializing in those brands of dinnerware so replacement is very difficult.  Oh, and it makes it easier for friends and family to buy you presents if they know you use fiestaware.  I've honestly never bought a single piece.  My sisters and mother have given me all of it as Christmas, birthday, and graduation presents starting from when I was about 16.

    By the way, my SO has broken a couple pieces of my fiestaware, and I've made him replace it.  He wasn't thrilled, but thankfully all of the colors I have are still in production.