Emptying the Pantry – Crockpot Smoky Chili

It’s been a while since I’ve been here, so let’s share a recent recipe, shall we?

The weather is getting warmer, which means I’m wanting to use my oven less and less these days. Coming are the days of the indoor grill, microwave and crockpot, honestly. Makes me wish I had five of each of those, let me tell you. 😉

So yesterday, I decided that since I had already made a Shepherd’s Pie the previous day (with ground pork!), that to use up the already cooked/crumbled ground pork that was left over, I’d need a different flavour profile for this dish so as not to get bored mid-week. Travelling from the UK to Texas-ish via the kitchen sounded like a good idea, so chili was next on the menu. 

I should warn that my chili does not have beans (I don’t like them — it’s a texture thing), and it doesn’t have onions (I can’t eat them). Feel free to cut back on some of the veggies or even the meat to make room for beans and/or onions if you want to use them yourself. The point about chili, imo, is that you can make it how you like it, with whatever ingredients you like and whatever heat (or non-heat) you prefer. I like mine mild. Some prefer burn-your-face-off hot. Add hot sauce if you like. Add cayenne pepper. Add jalapenos or chilies. Whatever you prefer.

Anyway, I pulled out the crockpot, yanked a bunch of stuff out of the fridge and cupboards and a half hour later, we had chili a-brewin’ away in the ol’ crock. There are a LOT of ingredients, but that’s the nice thing about chili — you can put into it whatever you want. I kind of think of it as a kitchen-sink meal. You kind of empty the cupboards into it and end up with something yummy. 

Here’s what I did. 


  • 1-1.5 lbs cooked ground meat (I used seasoned ground pork)
  • 1 packet favourite fajita mix (I used Old El Paso reduced sodium fajita mix)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Knorr’s Homestyle Beef Stock cup
  • 1 large can stewed tomatoes (I used no salt added diced)
  • 3-5 good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 small can tomato paste
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepepr, diced
  • 1/2 package sliced mushrooms, chopped
  • 12 sweet cherry tomatoes, diced (or half to one whole small tomato)
  • 1/4 cup favourite smoky bbq sauce (I used Bullseye Guinness)
  • 1/2 small jar (approx 1/2 cup?) favourite salsa (I used Tostitos mild)
  • 1 cup water (conditional — see below)
  • 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Set the crockpot to HIGH.
  2. Add the ground meat and fajita mix. Toss to coat the meat well.  
  3. Pour in 2 cups water and add the beef stock.   
  4. In a blender, puree the ingredients from the second list, from the stewed tomatoes to the tomato paste. 
  5. Add in all the vegetables (peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes), then the tomato/seasonings puree over top of this.     
  6. Stir the bbq sauce and salsa into the mix. 
  7. Top up with the water, if there’s still lots of room — make sure there is a good half inch to full inch from the top of the lid line at least, as this will bubble over if you’re not careful.
  8. Add the chocolate if you decide to use it. (It adds a depth of flavour. Trust me.)     
  9. Put the lid on the crockpot and set a timer for 3.5 hours.
  10. At the 3.5 hour mark, remove the lid and give everything a stir. Cook for an additional 30 minutes UNCOVERED (to allow it to thicken up a bit).
  11. Serve alone with cornbread, or over pasta. Top with your favourite toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions (chopped), and/or tortilla strips (you can buy these in the salad section).  

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