Photo: Oxmoor House
Total Time
5 Hours 35 Mins
8 servings

This hearty slow cooker pork chili with pinto beans gets its smoky flavor from the combination of chili powder, cumin, oregano. tomatillos, and Mexican-style hot tomato sauce.

How to Make It

Step 1

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add ground pork to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to slightly crumble. Drain well. Transfer pork to an electric slow cooker.

Step 2

Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add pork shoulder; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Transfer pork to slow cooker.

Step 3

Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer; cook 1 minute. Transfer onion mixture to slow cooker. Add chili powder, and next 9 ingredients (through ham hock) to slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 5 hours or until meat is tender. Remove bay leaves and ham hock; discard. Stir in sugar. Ladle about 1 1/3 cups chili into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve each serving with 1 lime wedge.

Step 4

Note: You can also cook the chili in a slow cooker on LOW for 8 hours. For cooking chili on the stovetop, use a total of 12 ounces beer and simmer, covered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the pork shoulder is tender.

Chef's Notes

Pork shoulder is usually sold in weights greater than a pound. Ask your butcher to trim off the amount you need, or look for pork shoulder steaks. Serve with corn bread.

This recipe has been retested for Cooking Light Slow Cooker Tonight, 2012

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Ratings & Reviews

MissippiLawLady's Review

March 18, 2009
This is great, and here are some easy modifications: add a handful of masa (corn tamale flour) mid-way through cooking (texture is amazing), add 2 chopped chipotles in adobo sauce (Embasa brand), and I left out the ground pork in favor of beef stew meat. Unreal!! Very good with cornbread waffles. The chipotles will add an amazing, smoky spice to it. I also make my own chili powder using Alton Brown's recipe. I made a vegetarian version with black beans (no ham hock, obviously) and brought it to a potluck--people went nuts! Everyone who's tried it loves this chili.

Atomicaunt's Review

April 19, 2012

Healthyatbest's Review

February 06, 2009
Normally, I do not like chili, but since I have very little time I will try almost any recipe in my slow cooker. This recipe exceeded my expectations in every way. It had very complex and full flavors and both me and my husband thought it was excellent. I would not change a thing about it. Do not leave off the toppings as they add immeasurably to the flavor of the dish. We also added slices of avocado which was delicious.

yannie's Review

April 07, 2009
This was just okay, way too much prep and ingredients for the taste. I have made chili with fewer steps and ingredients. If you have to do a lot of substitutions/alerations then you are not using the original recipe. I was afraid that the ham hock would yield too much salt so I didn't put any on the meat when I was cooking it. Had I done so I think it would have added a depth to the flavor. Also, I didn't really get a smoky taste from the hamhock at all. I don't think it added anything to the dish but an increased cost. It wasn't bad, but I don't think I would make again.

paxtekton's Review

January 01, 2014
really good. the crowd really liked it. used ancho chili powder instead of regular, otherwise matched the recipe.

NancyVA's Review

February 01, 2009
I made this today for Super Bowl Sunday. My boyfriend said it was very good and that he thinks it is better than my other chili recipe I have been making for years. It does take time to prepare, but the results are worth it. Go Steelers!!!!

Michelle3's Review

January 30, 2009
This was one of the best chilis I have ever had. I can't wait to make it for friends!

CindyAustin17's Review

January 25, 2009
Very tasty but a good amount of prep time. Typically do not like to comment when I have to say what I changed. I used a leaner cut of pork loin, added more beer, added 2 cans pinto beans and juice of 2 limes instead of serving wedges. I did not make cornbread so I served with a dollop of grits on top. This was very good. I cooked on the stovetop for 2 hours and left the boneless ham hock peices in the chili.

Lacie713's Review

September 08, 2013

ColoradoGal's Review

April 09, 2009
We loved this recipe - my husband said it was the best chili I've made. That said, I made several adjustments to use what I already had on hand in order to save a bit of money & time 1) used regular tomato sauce & added a bit of Chaloula instead of the special tomato sauce 2) used ground beef & some bits of sirloin instead of pork 3) instead of pork shoulder added a very small handful of cubed, cooked ham & a few dashes of liquid smoke to get the smokey flavor 4) used black beans I already had in the pantry instead of pinto beans 5) used just a mexican cheese blend instead of queso fresco Chili is great because it lends itself so easily to modifications - recipies are more like guidelines anyways right! :-)