This smoky slow cooker turkey chili is full of bold flavors with chili powder, cumin, and chipotle chilis. Easy to prep, and cooks all day for a hands off dinner.
Hearty, healthy and easy to prepare…these are just a few of my favorite things about chili. While I love a good Vegan Crockpot Chili and Crockpot White Chicken Chili, this slow cooker turkey chili might just be my favorite.
With lean ground turkey, beans, corn, tomatoes, onions and garlic, this slow cooker turkey chili is not only loaded with healthy vegetables, but also with protein.
It’s a very flexible recipe that you can add or subtract from to get your perfect bowl of chili. After simmering all day, there is so much delicious smoky southwestern flavor in every bite!
Reasons you’ll ♡ smoky slow cooker turkey chili:
- it simmers 8 hours in the slow cooker for an easy hands off dinner
- you can sautee the turkey for extra flavor or skip this step in favor of shorter prep time
- it works as a crockpot freezer meal (and freezes great after cooking as well!)
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Sautee the turkey + spices for extra flavor
This slow cooker chili recipe gets a boost of flavor from sauteeing the turkey and spices first, however you are also free to skip this step in favor of easy prep.
Sauteeing the turkey helps build flavor but also improves the texture of the meat; if you skip this step, expect the turkey to be a little less chewy in the chili.
Taking the time to sautee the spices helps build flavors by releasing the oils in the spices, making their flavor stronger.
Optional veggies for added nutrition
Traditional chili does not have carrots, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add in a few extra veggies. Consider this optional and leave it out if you are a chili purist.
Some other vegetables that would be great in chili? Bell peppers, butternut squash and sweet potatoes would all work well with the Southwestern flavors we have here.
Pick the right chili powder
If you are outside of North America, you might be thinking this recipe calls for pure powdered chilis. DO NOT use this type of chili powder as it will be incredibly spicy and overpowering. This recipe was developed using a chili powder blend. If you cannot find it in your grocery store, I recommend making your own blend. Here’s a great looking option!
Control your spice level
Buyer beware: chipotle peppers are spicy. As written, this turkey chili is mildly spice. Adjust the chipotle to taste: if you like a spicy chili, double the chipotles!
Freeze leftover chipotle peppers & adobo sauce in jars or freezer bags for up to 3 months.
I like to give my chili a taste before serving, especially for long cooking slow cooker meals. Is the flavor flat? Add a squeeze of lime or something acidic to boost flavors. Is the seasoning off? Add some salt to taste. Usually these two things can fix any flavor issues quickly.
Meal prep it!
This slow cooker turkey chili works incredibly well for meal prep. There are actually a few different ways you can incorporate it into your meal prep routine:
1. Crockpot freezer meal
This is a type of meal that you assemble ahead before cooking, then freeze. If you choose to use this chili as a crockpot freezer meal, cook your turkey + spices, then cool completely before adding to your freezer bag.
You can store your crockpot freezer meal in
- a gallon sized plastic freezer bag
- a 3 quart glass meal prep container (I’m a fan of the ones IKEA carries)
2. Cook ahead and freeze
The second way you can meal prep chili is to cook it ahead and store in the fridge or freezer for easy reheat meals.
- Store in the fridge for up to 4 days
- Store in the freezer for up to 6 months
Find my favorite freezer equipment in my shop!
More freezer meals
- 59 Freezer Meals the Whole Family Will Love
- Slow Cooker Spicy Chickpea Chili
- Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Stew
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
Smoky Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
- 1 1/2 lb lean ground turkey (roughly 700 g)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder (see * notes)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups onion (diced)
- 2 carrot (finely chopped; optional)
- 2 celery (finely chopped; optional)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 11 oz can of corn (drained)
- 19 oz can kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
- 2 chipotle peppers (chopped; see **notes)
- 4 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the can of chipotles)
- 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 23 oz tomato sauce (680 mL; I used two 13.5 oz/398 mL cans; see ***notes)
- Cook ground turkey in a large pan over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces, until no pink remains (5-8 minutes). Add the chili powder, cumin, ground coriander and salt and cook for an additional 1 minute, until spices are fragrant. See ****notes
- Place turkey and spice mixture into a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker with all remaining ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Taste before serving and add salt or lime juice to taste.
- To assemble ahead & freeze
- Place all ingredients except the diced tomatoes & tomato sauce in a gallon-sized heavy duty freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible, then freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw completely before placing in a 5 quart slow cooker with the diced tomatoes & tomato sauce and cooking on low for 8 hours.