This Slow Cooker Turkey Chili is the perfect warm and cozy meal to savor all winter. It’s packed with lean protein and a trio of fiber-rich beans, along with a dimensional blend of savory, smoky, and spicy flavors. Instant Pot and stovetop instructions included.

A steaming bowl of homemade chili is the best way to warm up when it’s cold outside. Hearty bites of my Slow Cooker Venison Chili, Instant Pot Beef Chili, and this Slow Cooker Turkey Chili are sure to warm you from head to toe.

Slow cooker turkey chili served in a big blue bowl, topped with green herbs and cheese.

Digging into a batch of homemade turkey chili is the best reward after waiting for it to slow cook. The aromas are amazing and the flavors are comforting. All it takes are a handful of vegetables, beans, ground turkey, tomato sauce, and savory spices to get it done.

The best part? You can use the leftover roasted turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas in this recipe! Using either leftover turkey or ground turkey will leave you with a mouthwatering and incredibly filling pot of set-it-and-forget-it turkey chili that you’ll want to make over and over.

Ground turkey chili vs. ground beef chili

Both ground turkey and ground beef act like sponges when sauteed with aromatics. It’s why these two are my top choices when making hearty chili and skillet recipes, like my Turkey Butternut Squash Skillet and Beef Veggie Skillet.

The flavors are similar, but the nutritional benefits are not. For chili with less fat and fewer calories, ground turkey is the better choice. Not to mention, turkey is high in vitamins B6 and B12, selenium, and the essential nutrient, choline.

Ingredients for turkey chili recipe measured and labeled.

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Ground turkey – Both fresh or frozen ground turkey (thawed overnight in the fridge) can be used. Keep in mind that 99% lean ground turkey is primarily white breast meat, so it can be drier than a mixture of white and dark meat. Ground chicken also works. See the FAQs for how to make chili with leftover holiday turkey. 
  • Aromatic vegetables – Onion, bell pepper, and garlic provide a base of deep, savory flavors. I like using red bell pepper, but feel free to experiment with different colors or other types of peppers. For example, Ancho poblano and anaheim peppers will enhance the smokiness, while jalapeno, habanero, or serrano peppers will give it a spicy kick. 
  • Chili seasoning – I used a packet of chili seasoning and added cumin, oregano, and sea salt. For a smoky kick, use the chili seasoning mix from my Instant Pot Beef Chili recipe instead. It’s made with chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and cayenne. 
  • Tomato paste and flour They help make a thick, flavorful chili broth. I used gluten free brown rice flour but you can use potato starch or tapioca flour as a grain free, Whole30 substitution. 
  • Chicken broth – For the best-tasting turkey chili, use a flavorful storebought or homemade bone broth.
  • Beans – Beans are one of my favorite chili ingredients because they’re packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Like my Three Bean Chili, I used pinto, kidney, and black beans, but you can always mix and match with chickpeas, great northern, cannellini, or navy beans. 
  • Pasta sauce – Stick to your favorite jar of red sauce (or marinara) or go all out with my homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce instead.
A close up photo of turkey chili recipe in slow cooker.

How to make turkey chili in the slow cooker

This simple turkey chili recipe is even easier if your slow cooker has the “Saute/Sear” function. If it doesn’t, follow steps 1 and 2 in a large skillet on the stove (or keep scrolling for the stovetop and Instant Pot directions).

Step 1: Pour the oil into the slow cooker pot and set it to “Saute/Sear”. Saute the onion, garlic, and red bell pepper in the pot until they’re soft.

Step 2: Add the ground turkey and cook until it’s browned all over. Season with salt, cumin, oregano, and chili seasoning, then add the tomato paste, rice flour, and broth. Stir well. 

Step 3: Stir in the pasta sauce and beans. Place the lid on top and cook on High for 2½ hours.

Step 4: When it’s done, serve the chili in bowls topped with your favorite toppings and enjoy! 

Instant pot instructions

Step 1: Saute the onion, garlic, and peppers in the Instant Pot on “Saute” mode. Add the turkey and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Season with salt, cumin, oregano, and chili seasonings. 

Step 2: Stir in the chicken broth, tomato paste, and flour. Cook for 1 minute, then add the beans and pasta sauce and give the chili one more good stir.

Step 3: Cancel Saute mode. Lock the lid in place, set the steam valve to the Sealed position, and pressure cook on High for 3 minutes. 

Step 4: When the timer stops, manually quick release the pressure. Carefully remove the lid and serve!

Stovetop directions 

Brown the ground turkey with onion, garlic, and peppers in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook until the chili is nicely thickened.

A big bowl of turkey chili with green herbs and cheese.

Tips and tricks

  • Add more vegetables – Add extra vegetables, like diced pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato, or frozen corn, 30 minutes to 1 hour before the chili is finished cooking.
  • Try adding turkey sausage For even more flavor, use half ground turkey and half turkey sausage. 
  • To cook on Low heat – Need to step away from the kitchen? Cook the chili on Low for 6 to 8 hours instead.

Toppings and serving suggestions

Customize your bowl of chili with fun and flavorful toppings, such as:

  • Diced avocado or guacamole
  • Shredded cheese
  • Diced red onion
  • Tortilla chips
  • Chopped cilantro, chives, or parsley 
  • Crackers 
  • Hot sauce
  • Jalapeno slices
  • Sliced scallions
  • A dollop of sour cream, Greek yogurt, or unsweetened coconut cream

Enjoy it with a piece of cornbread, crusty artisan bread, or dinner rolls on the side. They’re great for dipping! 

Turkey chili recipe served in a big blue bowl with cheese.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have to brown ground turkey for chili?

No, but I highly recommend it. Browning the meat seals in the fat and flavor, making the chili taste much better in the end.

Can I make slow-cooked turkey chili with leftover Thanksgiving turkey?

You can absolutely put the leftover turkey to use in this chili recipe. To do so, shred a mixture of leftover white meat and dark meat. 

To put it together in a crockpot, saute the veggies, then add the shredded turkey, chili seasonings, and remaining ingredients. Stir well and cook on High for about 2 hours.

Storing and reheating

To store: Let the leftover turkey chili cool completely before transferring it to airtight containers. It stays fresh for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.

To freeze: Alternatively, freeze the leftovers for 2 or 3 months. Let the leftovers thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

To reheat: Pour the chili back into your slow cooker and warm on Low heat for 1 ½ to 2 hours. If you’re in a hurry, zap it in the microwave or reheat it in a saucepan on the stove.

A side image of a bowl of turkey chili con queso on a table with fresh herbs and a wooden cheese greater.

Looking for more slow cooker recipes?

slow cooker turkey chili recipe
5 from 10 votes

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

by Silvia Dunnirvine
This Slow Cooker Turkey Chili is the perfect warm and cozy meal to savor all winter. It’s packed with lean protein and a trio of fiber-rich beans, along with a dimensional blend of savory, smoky, and spicy flavors. Instant Pot and stovetop instructions included.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 jar 25oz pasta sauce, plain no added flavors
  • 1 can 15oz black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can 15oz pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 can 15oz kidney beans, rinsed

Skillet

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 med white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 pk 1.25oz chili seasoning
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp brown rice flour

Instructions 

SLOW COOKER/ CROCKPOT INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add the first five ingredients to the slow cooker/ crockpot and stir to combine. Cover and turn on high.
  • In a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper and cook until soft and fragrant (3-5 minutes). Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. Be sure to stir and break turkey into small chunks (10-12 mins). Add the salt, spices and seasoning, mix to combine. Next add in the tomato paste, chicken broth and brown rice flour to create a thick and flavorful broth. 
  • Pour the skillet content into the slow cooker/ crockpot, mix. Cover tightly and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours. When done serve with corn bread, sour cream and fresh parsley or cilantro. 

INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS

  • Turn the Instant Pot on sauté mode. When hot add in oil, onion, garlic and red pepper and cook until fragrant (3-5 minutes). Add in ground turkey and cook, stirring often until no longer pink (10-12 minutes). Season with salt, spices and seasoning, mix to combine. Add in broth and sauté for another minute or so. Start to add in the beans one by one and finally add the pasta sauce. Give it a final quick stir. 
  • Cover the Instant pot and seal the venting valve. Turn off sauté mode and switch to high pressure. Cook for 3 minutes. When done, quickly release pressure. Open and serve!

Notes

To store: Let the leftover turkey chili cool completely before transferring it to airtight containers. It stays fresh for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.
To freeze: Alternatively, freeze the leftovers for 2 or 3 months. Let the leftovers thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
To reheat: Pour the chili back into your slow cooker and warm on Low heat for 1 ½ to 2 hours. If you’re in a hurry, zap it in the microwave or reheat it in a saucepan on the stove.

Nutrition

Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 1103mg | Potassium: 601mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 488IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg

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

Keyword: slow cooker turkey chili, turkey chili recipe
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Like this? Leave a comment below!
Slow cooker turkey chili recipe served in a bowl with cheese.

Hi! I’m Silvia.

My goal is to make cooking simple and enjoyable.

Garden in the Kitchen is full of easy and balanced recipes for busy families. Classics get a healthier twist with additions of veggies or alternative ingredients.

I hope my recipes will inspire you to cook more home meals and above all have fun in the kitchen!

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49 Comments

    1. Hi Jennifer, thanks for the observation. It is pasta sauce, from glass jar not tomato sauce from can. Thank you!

  1. Hi! I was only able to find pasta sauce that is basil based. Will that create a weird flavor for the chili? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristin! in general basil will create a weird taste, however a lot of times the added flavorings in pasta sauces aren’t super strong so you might be fine. Let me know how it comes out! 🙂

  2. This recipe looks delicious! How long do you think it would need to cook if I put the slow cooker on low? I work full-time, so I would have to come home during lunch to put it together, but it would still be about 4-5 hours before I could get back to it.

    1. So happy to hear Karlie! I have reduced my meat intake to about 5-10% also, which is why I made two other chili recipes without meat. You might want to check them out for yourself!

      1. Any chance you can put the turkey in the crock pot without cooking it first? I work full time and can’t come home at lunch to put it together!

      2. To assure that the meat is cooked thoroughly it’s safer to brown the meat first. However to make it easier for you, I suggest that throw the turkey in a skillet to brown quickly, without the spices and all. While the turkey cooks you add all the ingredients to the crock pot, then you add the brown turkey, close it a let it cook together. I find that my original method of adding the spices to the skillet adds more flavor, but you can just add the spices to the crock pot instead, but quickly brown the meat first. Hope this helps and let me know how it comes out!

  3. I love this recipe, it really is quite easy to put together and make, some people were saying they didn’t have time to cook the turkey because they work and can’t get home, I have the same problem and all I did was cook the turkey the night before, placed it in the fridge and then come morning I just followed the recipe and everything came out great.
    Had a beautiful dinner waiting for me and my boys when I got home from work.

    1. I am super happy to hear how well this recipe worked for you Jerry! Sometimes we just need to make a little adjustment to eat a healthy and hearty meal at home 🙂

  4. Could you send me the nutritional information? We absolutely love this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing! We make this so many times in the cooler months

    1. So happy to hear Andrea! Unfortunate the current recipe plug in I use does not calculate the nutritional information. There should be some apps available on google but I personally don’t know of any to recommend. Hope this helps!

  5. Hi Sylvia
    Just curious why you are using pasta sauce instead of tomato sauce? Also, I always LOVE your recipes because they are delicious–I can count on that! The other thing is I really appreciate that you always answer our questions!! Not everyone does that. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sherry, thanks for your comment. I am so happy to hear that enjoy my recipes, it means a lot to me to hear this! To answer your question I use pasta sauce for the added seasonings and flavor, but you can always use tomato sauce instead. A lot of tomato sauces are seasoned anyway, but that’s really the reason why.