Can I leave Chili In A Slow Cooker Overnight?

How to cook chili using a slow cooker. Here are the best practices you should follow. Chili is one of those foods that taste better the longer it cooks.

Chili can be cooked overnight, using a slow cooker for up to 8 hours. Set the slow cooker on low temperature and keep track of the cooking time. Any longer than 8 hours and the beef and beans break down and become overcooked.

The key here is you don’t want to overdo it. But once you know what to avoid. You can have a set and forget chili that turns out perfect.

Slow Cooking Chili

You can find probably hundreds of slow cooker or Crock-Pot chili recipes online. For good reason too, as there are many benefits to using a slow cooker.

Yes chili does benefit from being cooked slowly, like a soup or stew. The ingredients blend together and this takes time.

The more time the better, it often seems like chili tastes better even the next day. After it’s sat in the refrigerator overnight.

One of the main reasons my family and I enjoy slow cooking chili and other foods. Is that you can make it ahead. 

Then enjoy the food and eat it later at any time. Instead of doing all the cooking then eating right after. 

Chili is a great food to do this with. you can make it early in the day and have it ready in the afternoon or evening. 

Also you can make chili at night. Slow cook it while you sleep. Then The next day all you have to do is heat it up.

Overcooking Chili: Is It Possible?

 Most chili recipes taste better the longer they cook. As mentioned the flavors need some time to meld together. 

This doesn’t mean that you should overcook chili though. So don’t take it too literal when someone says the longer you cook it the better.

Unfortunately some of the ingredients in chili can easily become overcooked.

You could also accidentally burn the chili. The easiest way to burn or overcook is by cooking it for too long.

The ingredients you have to worry about most are the beef, beans and tomatoes. Which happen to be the staple ingredients of chili.

Chili vegetables such as tomatoes can start to thicken too much and you end up with more of a tomato sauce.

The most important ingredient is the beef, we tend to think that slow cooking meat in liquid makes it more tender and juicy. 

While this is true it is a fine line between that and overdoing it.

This has more to do with the texture of the meat when you chew it. Overcooked meat will lose its moisture quickly as you bite into it. 

To explain it as simply as possible, here’s what I’ve come to learn.

What is left in your mouth is mainly the muscle mass and toughened proteins. Where a perfectly cooked piece of meat has both the moisture fats and proteins still intact.


When it comes to chili you don’t have to worry about meat drying out as much as you do it breaking down.

Beef that has become too broken down, will obviously be mushy. When you may want it to be more chunky in your chili.

This mushy meat coincidentally has moisture in it. Will become tougher to chew and feel dry in your mouth. 

Think of it like a sponge that loses all its moisture at once.

This is definitely something to keep in mind when using a beef roast for your chili. Has the meat texture of a roast is more susceptible.

When using ground beef for your chili. You have to worry more about burning the beef. Which is easier to avoid.


Beans are another ingredient to keep in mind. You don’t want to overcook the beans. When this happens they tend to melt and lose all texture. then you end up with more of a soup rather than a chunky chili.

Red kidney beans work great for chili instead of smaller beans. Also pinto beans are very popular. Other beans to use for chili are black and red beans.

Below I’ll explain how to avoid overcooking your beef and beans, along with how not to burn chili.

How To Avoid Burnt or Overcooked Chili

The easiest way to avoid overcooked chili is to not go over the recipes cooking time. 

Other steps you can take to avoid burning or overcooking chili involve cooking time and when you add your ingredients.

The way to tell your chili is overcooked is that most of the ingredients will have become mushy and broken down. 

You may no longer recognize the beans and the beef. To avoid this do not cook your chili for longer than 10 hours.

Another tip to avoid overcooked chili beans. Is to add the beans at a later point. 

you still want the beans to become a part of the chili and actually cook themselves. 

So the best time to shoot for is the last 2 hours of cooking. 

Burnt chili usually results when there is no longer enough moisture to keep the ingredients from drying out. 

Avoid burnt chili by making sure there’s enough liquid in the slow cooker to begin with.

How Long To Slow Cook Chili

On the flip side one mistake of cooking chili is not letting it cook long enough. 1 hour is usually never long enough. 

The cooking time for your chili should be based on the setting you use for your slow cooker.

When using the low setting which typically reaches about 190° F. You want to cook the chili for between 6 – 8 hours.

If you want the chili to cook a little faster. Use the high setting and cook between 2 to 4 hours. 

I know the times are quite a bit different. So the best thing to do is to stir the chili and taste as you go. 

Slow Cooker Limits

Slow cookers are designed to run for a long period of time. So you should have no problem leaving it on overnight. 

Most brands have a built-in safety feature. To turn off after about 24 hours. Which gives a big enough window time to cook your chili.

Leaving Chili Sit Out

maybe you accidentally left your chili out overnight on the counter. If it has been more than 2 hours I would avoid eating the chili. 

if you left your chili in the slow cooker overnight. With the warm setting on, I wouldn’t eat it if it’s been more than 8 hours. 

To err on the safe side of caution I wouldn’t keep food on the warm setting for longer than 4 hours.

Possibly chili at this point may have become ruined. It will definitely need stirring and taste testing.

Most slow cookers have a warm setting. Used for serving the food rather than cooking. but I have found that this setting is actually pretty hot. 

Most brands will reach temperatures between 145 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm setting. This is enough to keep bacteria from growing on the food. 

Keeping it safe to eat. In case you accidentally left it on overnight.

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