Recipe: Slow cooked beef and lentil chili

25 Apr

This slow cooker chili recipe is easy to make, especially if you have a cabinet full of what I consider, basic spices. I started with ground beef, lentils, black beans, then threw in some oregano, minced garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes and thyme. I adjusted the seasonings again at the end, since the liquid had absorbed a lot of the spices during cooking.

The last time I made chili in a dutch oven, the beans never got soft even after hours and hours of continuous cooking. I learned the hard way that dried beans, though healthier, need special care and attention! I used the most time consuming method possible, so I will probably use canned beans next time.

Recipe: Slow cooked beef and lentil chili
Makes about 10-12 servings

Aside from making the beans in the oven for 2 hours, I sauteed the beef and onions separately for 2 reasons: 1) to build an extra layer of flavor, and 2) to remove some of the fat. If you want to dump everything into the cooker, feel free. I assure you, your chili will turn out just fine.


1 teaspoon of olive oil
1.5 pounds of ground beef
1 medium onion, diced (about 2 cups)
3 jalapenos, diced
1 Mexican pepper, diced
10 cloves of garlic, 5 minced, 5 whole
1 35 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
1 16 oz. bag of black beans or 2 15.5 oz of canned black beans
1 16 oz. bag of lentils or 2 15.5 oz of canned lentils
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of chili powder
2 teaspoons of salt
Freshly cracked pepper
1 cup of water
Grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Scallion (optional)
Bread (optional)

Directions for dried beans (no presoak method), from The Kitchn:

Heat the oven to 325°. Put 1 pound of beans in a 3-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or pot with a tight-fitting lid. A clay pot is ideal. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 1 inch. Put on the lid and bake for 75 minutes. Check the beans and stir them. If they are tender, take them out of the oven. If they aren’t done, put them back in for 15 minute intervals until they are, adding a cup of hot water if they seem to be drying out. This will take at most 2 hours, but will probably take less than 90 minutes.


1. Heat up a large pan with olive oil. Over high heat, add meat, onions, and garlic cloves. Add  1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of cumin, along with salt and pepper. Cook until meat has turned brown and no pink remains, about 6-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat and onions to the slow cooker lining. Discard liquid and fat.

2. To the slow cooker lining, add jalapenos, Mexican pepper, beans, lentil, and canned tomatoes. Add rest of the spices spices and stir. Add water.

3. Close lid and cook on low setting for at least 7 hours.

4. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Ladle into bowls. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and scallions on top.

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  • Carolyn Jung

    Now, that looks like a dish made for enjoying big spoonfuls while watching a major sporting event on TV. Yum!