The BEST Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy Chili - Salt & Baker (2024)

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by Whitney //November 30, 2018 (updated February 24, 2021)

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This is THE BEST Sweet and Spicy Chili EVER! This chili is loaded with delicious meat and the perfect blend of spices to deliver an award winning chili recipe!

Serve this delicious chili with a slice of my best Bisquick Cornbread.

The BEST Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy Chili - Salt & Baker (1)

I’ve packed it with hot Italian sausage (so good), and 2 pounds of ground beef. I’d say three pounds of meat is a lot, wouldn’t you? To offset the meat I’ve added a variety of beans for good measure. This chili is very filling. Trust me, you don’t need a large serving to fill you up.

Now remember… this chili will feed a crowd! Like, this makes a lot of chili! But that’s a good thing!!

This is the best chili I’ve ever had. Ever. In my whole entire life.

The BEST Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy Chili - Salt & Baker (2)

There’s one thing you should know about this Sweet and Spicy Chili recipe, it’s addicting. You’ll find yourself craving it all winter long. It’s comfort food at its finest.

The best part about this chili recipe is that you CAN TELL as soon as you take a bite it’s sweet AND it’s spicy. It’s amazing.

The sweetness factor isn’t overwhelming and the spiciness won’t make you breath fire. It’s a pleasant heat wave that comes a few seconds after you put a spoonful of the soup in your mouth.

Now, every chili has garnishes. This one is no different.

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The best garnishes for Sweet and Spicy Chili

  • Sour cream
  • Cheese (I like Colby Jack cheese)
  • Lime wedges
  • Chives (didn’t have them on hand… those buggers can be expensive!)
  • Saltine Crackers

I like to use the saltine cracker as a spoon. It’s true. You don’t even need a spoon to eat this soup. The saltine cracker becomes the vehicle that delivers this deliciousness to your mouth.

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How to make Sweet and Spicy Chili

First, dice up the bell peppers and onions. Sauté them until the onions become translucent, cook them for about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for one minute more. Once you’ve done that, transfer this mixture to the slow cooker.

Then brown the meats. Once browned and cooked through, add the meat to the slow cooker.

Add all of the remaining ingredients and spices to the slow cooker. Stir everything to until its combined.

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That’s it. No lie.

It’s SO easy to make! Seriously, the easiest chili recipe known to man… and the most delicious!

Can you freeze Sweet and Spicy Chili?

  • Yes. Freeze in an airtight container. The day before you want to eat it, thaw it in the refrigerator and then place in a large pot to warm it up, OR place it in your slow cooker to warm it up. Either way will work just fine.
  • Heck, or you can microwave it. Whatever works best for you.
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Additional slow cooker and soup recipes:

  • Potato Pepper Jack Soup
  • White chicken chili
  • Grape Jelly Meatballs
  • Lasagna Soup
  • Sausage and Tortellini Soup
  • Taco Soup
  • Broccoli Potato Soup
  • Slow Cooker Lasagna

If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to come back and leave a rating and review! Other readers (and myself) appreciate the feedback.

And if you like these recipes, make sure you sign up to receive delicious recipes straight to your inbox. You can sign up below!

The BEST Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy Chili - Salt & Baker (7)

PrintSave Review

4.82 from 58 votes

Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Chili

This sweet and spicy chili has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy! Plus, for added convenience it’s made in the slow cooker AND it feeds a crowd!

Prep Time: 20 minutes mins

Cook Time: 4 hours hrs 30 minutes mins

Total Time: 4 hours hrs 50 minutes mins

Servings: 14 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 orange bell pepper - diced
  • 1 red bell pepper - diced
  • 1 large sweet onion - diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic - minced
  • 1 lb hot Italian sausage - casings removed
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 6-oz cans tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 16 oz cans dark red kidney beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1 22 oz can Bush’s Grillin’ Beans Bourbon and Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar - packed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes - (For less heat, only add 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper - (for less heat, only add 1/8 tsp)


  • sour cream
  • grated cheese
  • saltine crackers - (I love to use the saltine cracker to scoop up the chili)
  • lime wedges



  • In a large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil. Once shimmering add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and transfer this mixture to the slow cooker.

  • Place the large skillet over medium heat again, this time add the hot Italian sausage and the ground beef. Using a wooden spoon, break the meat up into small pieces. Cook until no longer pink. Drain the fat.

  • Place the cooked meat in the slow cooker.

  • Add all of the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker except for the garnishes. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stirring at least once within those 4 hours (making sure to scrape the bottom so no food sticks).

  • Serve warm! This recipe makes a lot! And it’s filling 🙂



Calories: 442kcal (22%)Carbohydrates: 19g (6%)Protein: 16g (32%)Fat: 25g (38%)Saturated Fat: 8g (40%)Cholesterol: 70mg (23%)Sodium: 460mg (19%)Potassium: 373mg (11%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 17g (19%)Vitamin A: 980IU (20%)Vitamin C: 23.8mg (29%)Calcium: 39mg (4%)Iron: 2.1mg (12%)

author: Whitney Wright

Course: Soup

Cuisine: American

Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review on the blog post letting me know how you liked this recipe! Take a picture and tag @saltandbaker on Tik Tok, Instagram, and Facebook so I can see what you’re making!

recipe adapted from A Family Feast.

originally published November 30, 2018 — last updated February 24, 2021 // 57 Comments

Posted in: Fall, Halloween, Soup, Video, Winter

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    57 Comments on “Sweet and Spicy Chili”

  1. Lynette Reply

    My picky eaters request this all the time. Literally every week! Thanks for making it so easy to prepare!

    • Carley - Salt & Baker Reply

      Lynette, I’m glad it’s a win for your picky eaters! Thank you for your review.

  2. James Reply

    Love this recipe but instead of the spicy sausage I smoke a 1.5 lb Wright bacon and add 3 jalapeños.

    • Salt & Baker Reply

      Sounds yummy!

  3. Kristina M Reply

    Made this recipe for the office chili cook off and it won the people’s choice award. Had to sub the bush’s beans because I couldn’t find them in Canada but there is a very close Heinz brand option.

    • Salt & Baker Reply

      Awesome! So happy to hear that!

  4. Joe Reply

    I will definitely make this recipe again with the omission of the brown sugar or cut it by half. A little too sweet for my wife & I.

    • Salt & Baker Reply

      I sometimes do the same depending on my flavor preference. Thanks Joe!

  5. Emily Rodriguez Reply

    I’ve won four chili cook offs with this recipe!! I’ve tweaked it a little (exchanged paprika for smoke paprika) and used brisket baked beans from Sam’s club and it’s the best!! Even without tweaks, I won! Yesterday there were 14 chilis at the cook off and about 60/70 people and I won first place!! Make this recipe. So good!

    • Salt & Baker Reply

      So exciting, Emily! Thanks for sharing and for coming back to leave such a great review!

  6. Olivia Reply

    So I make this every year it’s the GOAT of all chili recipes. I literally won’t bother to eat any other chili now. LOL

    BUT just curious- I know it makes 14 servings- how big would you say a serving is? I’m planning for a crowd and want to know how hefty to plan for portions! Usually it’s just me and my husband eating off of it for days lol

    • Salt & Baker Reply

      I would say maybe 1 serving is like 1/2-1 cup. If you are making for a crowd, I would definitely double it! How many are you cooking for?

  7. Lana Allgeier Reply

    This is now my go to recipe! Everyone loves it and asks for it! Thank you! It’s the perfect amount of sweet and spicy!

    • Salt & Baker Reply

      Couldn’t agree more! Thanks Lana!

  8. Daisy Reply

    Made this exactly what the receipt said. It was the best. The sweetness was perfect and the spicy was just right. My husband even ate it and he doesn’t like chili said good but little to spicy for him. So i will be freezing leftovers for myself Yum

    Thank you

  9. Paula M Walter Reply

    Your website is worse than A View fromGreat Island in terms of popups. Beyond frustrating trying to print something.

  10. Lisa Reply

    This recipe would have been way better without all the brown sugar! I was entering a contest and I did everyone could to cut the sweetness. I only wish I would have read the comments first!! Needless to say I didn’t even place😞

    • Whitney Reply

      Sorry you didn’t enjoy it! Next time you can make a spicy chili, without the “sweet”!

The BEST Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy Chili - Salt & Baker (2024)


How to make chili thicker in crockpot? ›

I like to thicken my chili with a bit of corn masa. 2–3 Tbsp would be enough, depending on how much chili you're making. You could also use a corn starch slurry. I think you could make a of cornstarch and water to bring the chili together.

How to make chili more flavorful? ›

How to Give Chili a Flavor Boost
  1. Add something acidic. ...
  2. Try to identify what about your chili is boring. ...
  3. Add tomato paste. ...
  4. Drop in some chocolate. ...
  5. Embrace pickling liquid. ...
  6. Stir in some molasses.

Should chili be thick or soupy? ›

Traditionally, we expect a robust, spicy base, meat and/or beans, perhaps some bonus veggies, and a thick, rich consistency. Unlike soups, which are brothy, or even bisques, which are creamy yet thinner, chili is meant to be more stew-like; it's a definite stick-to-your-ribs creation.

How do you keep chili from getting watery in a slow cooker? ›

If our chili turns our watery or think, we have tried many ways to thicken it up. You can thicken your chili just by simple taking off the lid of your crock pot. It can also be thicken by adding cornstarch or flour. These thickening agents are pantry staples that your probably already have.

What is the best ingredient to thicken chili? ›

The good news is there are lots of easy ways to thicken up your chili with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry— flour, cornmeal, pureed beans, cornstarch, or even crushed tortilla chips will help do the job, along with some good old extra simmering time.

How do you make chili thicker and darker? ›

To quickly thicken it, put some cornstarch in a cup with liquid from the chili, stir, add to the chili. For a more "authentic" thickening, just keep it on a low simmer, but it will take longer.

What secret ingredient will deepen the flavor of your chili? ›

Cocoa Powder

Chocolate might not be the first thing you think of when you're making a batch of chili but it pairs perfectly with peppers. Adding just a teaspoon or two of unsweetened cocoa powder like we do in our Instant Pot Chili (pictured above) will make your go-to recipe rich and flavorful.

What is the secret to really good chili? ›

Only Add Flavorful Liquids

Instead of adding water to your chili, add some more flavor with chicken or beef broth, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or even beet or wine. Each one of these options brings out different notes and levels of sweetness that will enhance your culinary creation.

What spice gives chili its flavor? ›

Cumin, Chile Powders, and Paprika are the most common spices in chili followed by garlic, onion, coriander, Mexican oregano, and bay leaves. These ingredients can be combined to create a savory and well-balanced pot of top notch comfort food.

Does tomato paste thicken chili? ›

Not only will tomato paste add a tangy flavor to the dish, but it will also act as a thickening agent. For this purpose, you can use homemade or store-bought tomato paste. Add 1 can of the paste to your pot of chili, stir the mixture, and let it cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.

Why put cornmeal in chili? ›

Cornmeal is one of our go-to thickening agents for chili. Unlike all-purpose flour, this Southern pantry staple adds a subtle earthy flavor to the chili in addition to thickening it up. You can use white or yellow cornmeal that is fine to medium-grain.

What adds depth to chili? ›

Tomato paste is a great way to add bonus tomato flavor, and thickness, to a chili recipe. To get the best flavor it needs to be browned. Add a couple tablespoons (or a whole can if you want a thicker soup base) directly to the pan after cooking the meat and onions. Stir the paste occasionally to prevent burning.

Is 4 hours on high the same as 8 hours on low in a slow cooker? ›

The difference between "High" and "Low" on slow cookers seems to differ with every brand and model. One thing that is consistent, though, is that food takes seven to eight hours to reach a simmer point (around 210°) on low; versus three to four hours on high.

Should I stir my slow cooker chili? ›

Add all remaining Chili Ingredients to the slow cooker and give them a stir. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours (recommended) or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Taste and add salt/pepper/cayenne pepper to taste. Serve with desired toppings such as cheese, sour cream, green onions, corn/tortilla chips, etc.

Is it better to start a crockpot on high or low? ›

If possible, turn the cooker on the highest setting for the first hour of cooking time and then to low or the setting called for in your recipe. Foods take different times to cook depending upon the setting used. Certainly, foods will cook faster on high than on low.

What can I add to chili to make it more watery? ›

Add more water or tomato sauce if it's too thick. Keeping the lid on can keep the steam in resulting in thinner chili. Also, if I cook chili in the crock pot it is usually thinner, as the lid collects the steam rather than it evaporating.

How to add volume to chili? ›


Veggies like zucchini, corn, potatoes, and onions release starches that soak up excess moisture. Plus, they'll increase the amount of chili and provide additional fiber. How to do it: Add a cup of finely diced veggies of choice OR blend 1 cup of veggies with 1 cup of chili and stir the mixture into the pot.

How to thicken slow cooker chili reddit? ›

Try taking the lid off and setting the slow cooker to high for half an hour before you eat - some of the water will boil off. Also, add a small can of tomato paste - THE best for flavour and thickening. Also adding flower or corn starch slowly really helps. To thicken sauce I toss in some instant mashed potatoes.

How do you thicken chili Food Network? ›

If you're not adding masa harina to your chili, you're missing out! Its purpose is two-fold: it lends a subtle corn sweetness and it helps thicken the chili. If you're looking for a recipe to show you how to incorporate it, try Ree's Simple Perfect Chili — it's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.


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