Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
Published Aug 18, 2023
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Slow Cooker Turkey Chili is a hearty, healthy bowl of goodness that cooks in the slow cooker all day long and is a guaranteed weeknight dinner winner.
The slow cooker / crockpot is a great tool for cooking chili because its low temperatures and long cook times allow all of the flavors to develop. And there’s nothing quite as satisfying as coming home to dinner that has cooked all day, is ready to serve, and leaves only one dish to clean. It’s super easy and just takes a few minutes to prep. This hearty, protein-packed slow cooker turkey chili recipe has been one of my most popular recipes since I first shared it in 2016.
This post has been updated with new tips and a new freezer label below. But it is still the same recipe that many of you know and love! And if you haven’t tried it, I can’t wait for you to give it a try.
Ingredients for Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
- Ground Turkey – Slow cooker turkey chili can be made with any ground meat as a substitute. Try it with ground beef or ground chicken. If you use ground beef or ground pork, drain it well before adding it to the slow cooker.
- Dried Spices – Use classic dried spices in this chili – chili powder and ground cumin. I look for a more mild chili powder so that I can add more spice if I want. I love McCormick chili powder which is very mild.
- Onion and Garlic – Chopped onion and garlic add a lot of flavor as they cook.
- Sweet Potatoes – These add nutrition and a subtly sweet flavor to the chili. They will soften significantly in the slow cooker and will start to sort of melt into the finished dish.
- Uncooked Quinoa – It will seem like a small amount to add to the chili, but the quinoa will expand as it cooks and will give the chili a rich, thick texture.
- Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce – The combination of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce form a base with great texture and flavor. Be sure to look fore “fire-roasted” diced tomatoes because they have the best flavor.
- Black Beans – Even more protein and texture to add to your slow cooker turkey chili.
- Stock – You’ll need a small amount of chicken or vegetable stock for the quinoa to absorb as it cooks.
How to Make Chili in the Slow Cooker
- Chop vegetables and aromatics – Chop onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes.
- Saute turkey with spices – In a skillet, brown the turkey with onions, garlic, and dried spices until cooked through and fragrant.
- Slow cook – Combine turkey, sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, chicken stock, and quinoa in a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
- Ladle chili into bowls and add toppings!
Make Ahead / Freezer Friendly Chili
There is some magic that happens when you make chili ahead of time that means it tastes better a day or two after making it. In this case, you can slow cook the whole batch early in the week, or load up the slow cooker on Sunday night (pre-cook the turkey as outlined in Step #1 in that case) and just start it cooking first thing Monday or Tuesday morning.
And bonus that this freezes well too. Be sure to print the freezer label and add it to your list of favorite freezer meals!
Printable Freezer Label
Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
Yes. Ground chicken or beef work well in this recipe. If using ground beef, use a lean ground beef.
Usually ground turkey just needs more spices in order to taste more meaty and flavorful. This recipe works well because it is absolutely packed with flavorful spices and herbs, but you can even increase the dried spices if you’d like.
In addition to classic toppings like sour cream, green onions, and tortilla chips, try serving turkey chili with cornbread or baked potatoes.
Turkey chili is lighter in calories when compared to versions made with beef. This recipe also includes healthy quinoa, sweet potatoes, and beans.
More Slow Cooker Recipes
- Slow Cooker Classic Beef Chili
- Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
- Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas
- Slow Cooker Puttanesca with Beef
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
- Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
- And one Instant Pot recipe too – Instant Pot Potato Leek Soup
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Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
- 6-quart Slow Cooker
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 1/2 pound lean ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, cubed
- 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 15 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce (or tomato "puree")
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- shredded cheese
- tortilla chips
- sour cream
- cilantro or chopped green onions
- Pre-Cook Turkey: (Do this up to 3 days in advance and refrigerate the turkey until you're ready to start the slow cooker.) Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add turkey, chili powder and cumin and continue cooking until turkey crumbles and is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
- Slow Cook Chili: Combine cooked turkey and all remaining ingredients (through the toppings). Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve with your favorite toppings.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
The original photo of this recipe from 2016.