Rice Cooker Chili

$4/26 recipe / $1.42 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 7 votes
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I’ve been playing with my rice cooker again! This time I took this classic fall comfort food, scaled it down and scaled it back to make it as easy as possible, and cooked it up in my convenient little rice cooker. This small batch Rice Cooker Chili is perfect for cooking in an RV, hotel room, community dorm kitchen, or other small spaces. It makes just enough to feed a few people, requires no chopping, and has all the warm comfort of the big stove top batches!

Check out my other Rice Cooker Recipes: Rice Cooker Teriyaki Shrimp and Rice, Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese, Rice Cooker Spanish Chickpeas and Rice.

A spoonful of super flavorful small-batch Rice Cooker Chili.

Do I need a rice cooker to make this recipe?

Nope! This is just a scaled-down version of my Classic Homemade Chili recipe, which cooks on the stovetop. If you want to make this small batch version on the stovetop, it can be made in a small stockpot. Simply sauté the beef over medium, then simmer the chili over medium-low once the rest of the ingredients are added. You can also make this Rice Cooker Chili with an Instant Pot, using a sauté function for the first browning steps, then the chili function once the rest of the ingredients are added.

Rice Cooker Adaptations:

As mentioned above, this Rice Cooker Chili is just a scaled-down version of my Classic Homemade Chili recipe. The rice cooker I use is an 8 cup capacity, so I had to reduce the original chili recipe by about half. In addition to reducing the volume, I also substituted the fresh onion and garlic with more of the powdered versions, to eliminate the need for any chopping, making this recipe as easy as possible. While I only used one can of beans for the recipe listed below, I think it could easily handle a second can (maybe black beans) to stretch out your dollar even further!

What Rice Cooker Am I Using?

I chose to work with one of the most popular and most basic rice cookers on the market to make sure the rice cooker recipes I develop have the broadest compatibility. That being said, every model rice cooker is slightly different and may yield slightly different results, so you may have to tweak the recipe to work with your equipment. I’m using the Aroma Housewares 8 cup cooked/4 cup uncooked Digital Rice Cooker (affiliate link). 

A big bowl of super flavorful small-batch Rice Cooker Chili.

And if you’re going to make chili, then you definitely need some homemade cornbread to go with it! ;)

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Rice Cooker Chili

5 from 7 votes
This small batch, scaled back, and super easy Rice Cooker Chili still delivers huge flavor. Perfect for dorm living, RV’s, and hotel cooking! 
Bowl of super easy small-batch Rice Cooker Chili
Servings 3 about 1.5 cups each
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Total 40 minutes


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  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to the rice cooker. Close the lid and select the “white rice” or “cook” function, depending on the functions available on your cooker. Allow the beef to cook with the lid closed, opening it briefly to stir and break up the meat every couple of minutes, until the beef is fully browned (about 5 minutes total). Many rice cookers, including the model I used, do not heat unless the lid is closed, so remember to close it after each stir.
  • If you are using a higher fat content beef, drain the excess fat once it has fully browned. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to the ground beef in the rice cooker, stir to combine, then close the lid and cook for one minute more.
  • Drain the can of kidney beans and add them to the rice cooker along with the diced tomatoes (and their juices), tomato paste, and water. Stir until everything is evenly combined.
  • Close the lid once more, make sure “white rice” or “cook” is selected, then let the chili simmer for 30 minutes. Stir the chili occasionally to make sure it is not sticking on the bottom. If your cooker finishes the cook cycle before 30 minutes is up, simply begin it again.
  • After simmering for 30 minutes, taste the chili, adjust the seasoning if desired, then serve with your favorite chili toppings.

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*Half of a store-bought chili seasoning packet can be used in place of the individual spices. 


Serving: 1.5CupsCalories: 437.23kcalCarbohydrates: 41.2gProtein: 27.53gFat: 18.03gSodium: 1157.47mgFiber: 11.93g
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How to Make Rice Cooker Chili – Step by Step Photos

Add Oil and Beef to Rice Cooker

Begin by adding 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 lb. ground beef to your rice cooker.

Add Beef to Rice Cooker

Close the lid on the rice cooker and select the “white rice” or “cook” function. Closing the lid allows the rice cooker to begin heating, so make sure it is closed. Stir and break up the beef every couple of minutes as it cooks, remembering to close it again after stirring, until it is fully browned (about 5 minutes). 

Add Spices to Browned Beef in Rice Cooker

If you’re using a higher fat content beef, drain off the excess fat once it is browned. Add 1/2 Tbsp chili power, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the ground beef (or 1/2 of a store-bought chili seasoning packet). Stir to combine the beef with the spices, close the lid, and let it cook for one minute more.

Add Beans Tomatoes and Tomato Paste

Drain one 15oz. can of kidney beans (or two cans of beans, if you prefer) and add them to the rice cooker along with one 15oz. can of diced tomatoes (with juices) and half of a 6oz. can of tomato paste. Don’t forget, you can freeze the rest of your tomato paste for another recipe later!

Add Water to Rice Cooker

Finally, add 3/4 cup water to the rice cooker and stir everything to combine. Close the lid, select the “white rice” or “cook” function again, and allow the chili to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom. If the timed cook function ends before the chili has simmered for 30 minutes, simply begin it again (mine never even began to count down, it just continued heating the entire time).

Finished Rice Cooker Chili Spoon

After simmering 30 minutes, taste the chili, adjust the seasonings if needed, then serve!

Bowl of super easy small-batch Rice Cooker Chili

Don’t forget to add your favorite toppings to your Rice Cooker Chili!

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  1. I was hoping to see how I coukd heat up chili in a rice cooker for a man who lives in one room in a motel and doesn’t have a microwave. I was thrilled to find your recipe for how to make a chili in a rice cooker. I am giving him a Cuisinart 4-cup rice cooker, and will adapt your recipe downward in size and try to report back to you. Thank you!!!

  2. I loooove you! Thank you for this simple recipe. I recently got an Aroma with the intent to find and make 1-pot meals. Yours is  the first

  3. This recipe is pretty great. I’ve started making it pretty consistently. Kids love it. Thanks.

  4. If I use homemade chili powder would I just use the mix or add the individual spices on top of what’s already inside the mix? 

    1. It’s hard to say since I don’t know what’s in your chili powder, but I would err on the side of using more spices instead of less. :)

    1. Yes, just above the recipe you’ll see a section titled “What Rice Cooker Am I Using” where I give details about what size and model I used for this recipe. :)

  5. A few days ago my mother introduced me to this site. I’m her 13 year old daughter and have enjoyed cooking, and recently got more into it. I’ve been learning to budget and spread out meals; and my mom came to a decision. She allowed me to choose 2 different meals from here, and this Rice Cooker Chili was one of them. Today I made it. We have a family of 4, so the recipe got doubled. Instead of using a rice cooker, however, we used a 6 Quart Sauce Pot. It worked out well and the only thing I did differently to the recipe was add in a quarter cup of minced onion and 5 cloves of garlic. This added to the flavor of the Chili. Overall this recipe was delicious, and I’m quite positive my family is full and satisfied with it. It’s definitely a keeper, it’s going in our recipe binder!!

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  6. Hello, if I would like to double the recipe because I have the 20 cup aroma rice cooker, would you know how long to cook everything for? Thanks so much, just reading this recipe made me so hungry, sounds delicious!

    1. I’m sorry, unfortunately I don’t know how long it would take to cook a double batch, since I haven’t tested that. :(

  7. Hi, I just noticed a possible discrepancy: size of Aroma rice cooker – 8 qt? 8 cups? (pretty sure you meant 8 cups, the same size I have, but just checking.)

    In the section “Rice Cooker Adaptations” you mention: “The rice cooker I use is an 8 quart capacity, so I had to reduce the original chili recipe by about half.”

    In the next section “What Rice Cooker am I Using” you mention: “Aroma Housewares 8 cup cooked/4 cup uncooked Digital Rice Cooker. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)”

  8. Would it work to double the recipe or would that overcrowd the rice cooker?

  9. Is there a regular version?  LOL.  I have been looking for a chili receipe.  thanks so much.

  10. There are two types of olive oil extra virgin olive oil and pomace olive oil which one i have to use for better taste

  11. Hi! This looks good and easy!  Do you think substituting brown rice and using the “brown rice” function would work?
    Thanks for your great website! I love the variety of recipes!

    1. What would you be substituting the brown rice for? Keep in mind that when cooking rice you need to make sure to have the proper amount of liquid in the rice cooker as well. This chili recipe almost certainly doesn’t have enough liquid to cook brown rice as written, so you would have to change it quite a bit.