This kid-friendly chili recipe is loaded with healthy vegetables, which are pureed and added to the meat so that your family (especially picky eaters) won’t even think they are there! It can be made in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. If you want to make chili for kids, definitely give this recipe a try!
A lot of chili recipes and small kids don’t mix. They’re just too spicy.
Heck, a lot of chili recipes and I don’t mix. If something’s too spicy, I just can’t enjoy it.
So today’s recipe is light on the spice. If you like the extra veggies in this recipe but still want it spicy, just add more heat.
You can add more chili powder or hot sauce. You could also add jalapenos or hot peppers to the recipe.
If you want spicy chili without the added vegetables, check out my Big Batch Three Bean Chili with Beef.
The vegetables in this recipe add delicious flavor, but they don’t taste anything like raw vegetables.
For an even more healthy option, try my Vegetarian Quinoa Chili. If you don’t top it off with cheese, it’s also vegan.
Today’s recipe has a savory and slightly sweet taste. The sweetness cuts the spicy flavors a little and brings out the savory flavors more.
Due to the veggies and beans, this is a higher fiber version of chili and it’s very hearty. It’s very thick and filling and will keep you (and the little ones) full for a long time.
Can I cook this crockpot chili recipe on the stove?
Yes, you can cook this in a large dutch oven or stockpot on the stove, but it will need to be watched a little more closely than if you used a slow cooker.
Can I add additional veggies?
Yes, you can! I use this base of veggies for a lot of hidden vegetable dishes because they complement meat flavors and are easily pureed.
If you have additional vegetables you want to use up, throw them in the blender, but be mindful of how much liquid they will add as well.
Is this a spicy chili?
No, this is a very mild chili with a savory flavor.
Can I make this chili spicier?
Yes, you can add jalapenos, hot sauce, more chili powder, more pepper, or additional hot peppers of your choice.
What would you serve with this chili?
This chili is delicious served with cornbread! This gluten-free cornbread is my favorite. It uses a 1:1 GF Baking Mix but can also be made with regular all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour. This Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Cornbread also looks fantastic.
You can also serve this chili for kids over rice, as a baked potato topping or with a grilled cheese sandwich.
How do I store this chili?
You can keep this in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to five days and reheat in single servings. Or you can freeze it in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to three months.
I love keeping them in single-serving sized containers so that I can defrost a quick lunch. Even better is if I can remember to defrost a container in the fridge the night before.
How do I make this chili gluten-free?
Make sure all your ingredients are gluten-free. Worcestershire normally isn’t but the most common brand, Lea and Perrins, is gluten-free. But only in the US! In other countries, and sometimes online, you’ll find a version that uses barley-based malt vinegar in place of distilled vinegar. No matter where you live, check the label before you buy it.
French’s is also easy to find and gluten-free.
For the hot sauce, Tobasco and Frank’s are both gluten-free but if you use another brand, check the label.
It’s the same with barbeque sauces. Some are gluten-free, some aren’t.
For this recipe, I can recommend using Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ sauce. They have another 8 products that are GF.
Here’s a list of gluten-free barbeque sauces. It should be easy to find at least a few of those in any grocery store.
If you try this kid-friendly chili out, I’d love to hear what you think! Also check out these Gluten-free Uncrustables for another fun kid-friendly treat!
- 2 pounds (907 grams) ground beef, browned and drained
- 2 stalks (105 grams total) of celery roughly chopped
- 1 cup onion roughly chopped
- 1 cup (110 grams) shredded or grated carrots (from about medium 2 carrots)
- 1/2 cup (50 grams) green onion, chopped
- 2 cups (60 grams) baby spinach
- 1 1/2 cups (354 milliliters) beef broth (½ cup in with veggies in blender, 1 cup in chili)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (like Tabasco or Frank's Hot Sauce) (use a gluten-free brand, if needed)
- 1 29-ounce (822-gram) can tomato sauce (use a gluten-free brand, if needed)
- 1 6-ounce (170-gram) can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (use a gluten-free brand, if needed)
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce - I recommend Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ sauce (use a gluten-free brand, if needed)
- 2 15-ounce (425-grams) cans kidney beans drained and rinsed
- In your blender combine celery, onion, carrots, green onion, spinach, garlic, and beef broth. Puree until liquid.
- In the skillet you cooked your beef in, pour the green sauce over the meat and cook on medium, stirring frequently, until all water has evaporated and beef is absorbing the green sauce. This is how you have so many hidden vegetables in your chili! (yes, it looks a little weird to have “green meat” in the skillet, but once it is in the chili it is not green anymore!)
- Once the meat has absorbed most of the green sauce, place it in your crockpot. You can alternatively cook this in a large dutch oven or stockpot on the stove, but it will need to be watched a little more closely than if you used a slow cooker. Simmer your chili on low for 2-3 hours on the stovetop. Stir every now and then to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- If using a slower cooker, add all remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. If you cook on high make sure to stir frequently to avoid burnt and stuck layers on the bottom and edges. I prefer to really slow cook it so the flavors have more time to mix together and get deep into the meat.
- Cool and store any leftovers in the fridge for 5 days. Or you can freeze it in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to three months.
Comments & Reviews
Would there be any recommended substitutions for spinach if one family member is on a low-oxalate diet? Thank you, excited to try!
Erin @ Food Doodles says
Hello! What do you normally use in place of spinach in cooked recipes? I can’t think of anything, and I just googled it and still have no idea. 🙁 I would just omit it. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful! I hope you’ll enjoy the chili. 🙂
I have no idea why this doesn’t have any reviews 🤣 for some reason I clicked on it in my search for a toddler friendly chilli and I never made it any further. Made this tonight and my VERY picky 2 year old who wouldn’t even dream of trying something new totally tried this! 🥳 such a winner! My husband added franks red hot to his own dish. Would totally recommend this. Thank you!
Erin @ Food Doodles says
You’re welcome! I’m thrilled that your picky toddler enjoyed it. I have a 3-year-old and just love when a new recipe actually gets approved. 😂 It VERY rarely happens so it’s quite a treat. Thank you for trying this recipe despite the lack of reviews! It has no reviews because to be honest, abpit 4 people have seen this recipe. 😉 Thanks again!