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.
Table of Contents
- Ground turkey chili vs. ground beef chili
- Ingredients and substitutions
- How to make turkey chili in the slow cooker
- Tips and tricks
- Toppings and serving suggestions
- Frequently asked questions
- Storing and reheating
- Looking for more slow cooker recipes?
- Slow Cooker Turkey Chili Recipe
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 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.
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!
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.
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
- Hot sauce
- Jalapeno slices
- Sliced scallions
- A dollop of sour cream, Greek yogurt, or unsweetened coconut cream
Frequently asked questions
No, but I highly recommend it. Browning the meat seals in the fat and flavor, making the chili taste much better in the end.
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.
Looking for more slow cooker recipes?
Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
- 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
- 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
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!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.