Time to get “crock” ing and enjoy a warm bowl of chili!

By: Jodie Shield, RD

Brrrrrr!  It’s cold or should I say chili?  Time to fire up your crock pot and cozy up to a flavor-packed bowl of thick and rich chili. My inspiration for this recipe came from the Chicago Tribune’s Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili.  They made it on the stove, but I decided to toss everything into a crock pot.  Holy mole!  So easy, and the heart-healthy dark chocolate made this Mexican dish divine.   But I did have to tweak the original recipe to make it crock-pot friendly.  For starters, I used lean ground turkey breast rather than fatty dark meat turkey.  Then, I cut way back on the chili powder and added all of the spices during the last hour of cooking to maximize flavor.  Since liquids don’t evaporate in the crock pot, I cut the liquid ingredients in half.  Feel free to cook your chili based on your time frame.   As a rule of thumb: one hour on the high setting equals 2 hours on the low setting.  Here are two more super easy and healthy crock pot chili recipes you’re going to love: Three Bean Chili and Super Bowl Chili. Serve them with a side of guacamole and wash everything down with a margarita – ole!

Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili

12 Servings

Prep Time = 20 minutes

Cooking Time = 4 – 8 hours


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast.
  • 3 cups finely chopped yellow onion (2 large onions)
  • 4 garlic cloves, mined
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate (1/2 square)


  1. Heat olive oil in large 13-inch skillet.  Add ground turkey breast and cook over medium-high heat until well browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Transfer cooked turkey to slow cooker.
  2. Add onion, garlic, pinto beans, crushed tomatoes and beer to an 8-quart slow cooker.  Cook chili on low heat for 8 hours; high heat 4 hours.
  3. During last hour of cooking add: oregano, cinnamon,  coriander, chili powder, and unsweetened chocolate; stir until combined and continue cooking.

Nutritional Information per 1 cup serving: 247 calories, 30 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 38 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams fiber, 316 milligrams sodium

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About Author


Jodie Shield, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N.
Jodie Shield has been a consultant and spokesperson in the field of nutrition for over two decades. A former national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (1989-1995), she has worked extensively with the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and taught nutrition and medical dietetics at the University of Illinois. Currently she is a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago.

(2) Readers Comments

  1. If you are cooking on low heat, do you still add the final ingredients during the last hour or do you add them during the last two hours of cooking?

    • Jodie

      Great question! Yes, even on the low heat you should add the spices during the last hour of cooking. The reason being, adding them earlier may cause a bitter aftertaste. Let me know how you like the chili!

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