Slow Cooker Turkey Chili


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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.

two bowls of turkey, quinoa, and sweet potato chili with crumbled chips

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. 

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overhead image of chili in the slow cooker being stirred with a spoon

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. 

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overhead image of a bowl of chili with cheese, sour cream, and green onions on top

How to Make Chili in the Slow Cooker

  1. Chop vegetables and aromatics – Chop onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes. 
  2. Saute turkey with spices – In a skillet, brown the turkey with onions, garlic, and dried spices until cooked through and fragrant. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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!

turkey chili freezer label

Printable Freezer Label

Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!

Print Freezer Label


Can I substitute ground chicken or beef for ground turkey?

Yes. Ground chicken or beef work well in this recipe. If using ground beef, use a lean ground beef.

How can I make turkey chili taste more meaty?

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.

What should I serve with turkey chili?

In addition to classic toppings like sour cream, green onions, and tortilla chips, try serving turkey chili with cornbread or baked potatoes.

Is turkey chili healthy?

Turkey chili is lighter in calories when compared to versions made with beef. This recipe also includes healthy quinoa, sweet potatoes, and beans.

overhead image of a spoon scooping up turkey chili from a white bowl

More Slow Cooker Recipes

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square image of turkey chili in a bowl
4.43 from 45 votes

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

This turkey chili with sweet potatoes, black beans and quinoa is a hearty, healthy bowl of goodness that cooks in the slow cooker all day long and is a guaranteed weeknight dinner winner.
This recipe should be made in a 6-quart slow cooker.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • Skillet
  • 6-quart Slow Cooker


For Chili:

  • 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

Optional Toppings:

  • 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.


Calories: 243kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 497mg | Potassium: 738mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 11640IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.00
Calories: 243
Keyword: easy dinner, family friendly, freezer friendly, healthyish, make ahead, turkey
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The original photo of this recipe from 2016.

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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. 5 stars
    Okay I don’t normally rate recipes, or comment on them. But this is just so delicious. I used to make a double batch and freeze it so I would have something to take to my mom’s house after work. She was still safe at home but unable to really cook anything with multiple steps.

    Fast forward she’s now unable to live alone and doesn’t eat a lot of variety anymore. So now I’m gearing up to do single batches for myself and freeze them off she’s eating her peanut butter and jelly sandwich French toast or something. I’ll always give her some to try and the possibility that she might willingly eat it but things that are have too many ingredients in them seem to create anxiety.

    But this is delicious and thank you so much! Good amount of seasoning and flavor to it. I often find recipes a bit bland for my preference.

    1. Clara – thank you for this wonderful note. I’m so glad that you enjoyed this recipe and were able to share it with your mom. I hope she’s doing okay, and glad that you are able to make this recipe work in the freezer for yourself now that she prefers simpler foods. I actually just defrosted some of this chili we had in the freezer for dinner last night! Thank you again for taking the time to comment and rate the recipe.

  2. Old bachelor here! – This recipe sounds delicious! Was wondering if it’s possible to estimate what size slow cooker (in quarts) would be needed for this recipe using the recommended ingredient amounts? Also – could ground chicken be substituted for the ground turkey?

    1. Hi Jerry! I’d recommend a 6-quart slow cooker for this one, though I bet it could work in a 4-quart (though with very little room to spare). Yes! I’ve made it with ground chicken, and it’s a great sub. Enjoy!

      1. 5 stars
        So glad I came across your recipe! I ended up making it with ground chicken (it’s what I had on hand) and it was absolutely delicious!! The only other thing I changed was using frozen cubed sweet potatoes instead of cutting and dicing. Will definitely be making again over the winter months. Thanks for your hints on slow cooker size, I split the difference and used a 5 QT slow cooker which turned out to be a perfect.

  3. I added the recipe ingredients up using the exact recommended ingredients, and came out with about 70 more calories per serving. Fat, carbohydrate and protein were not off by too much to matter, but I think the calorie count is a more considerable error.

    1. Hi Pamela – thanks so much for your note. We use a tool within the site to calculate the nutritional information on each recipe, so we do sometimes come up with slightly different values than users who use another tool. We’ll definitely double check this one just to be sure it’s correct.

    1. Hi Shelley – it is our hope to add conversions to all of our recipes in the future, so it’s on the list. For now, Google can provide very easy and quick conversions for any measurements given on the site.

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious. I added a 4oz can of chilies and some extra chili powder and cinnamon for extra kick. Very tasty and easy.