Smoky Beanless Chili has savory bacon, ground beef, and a little bit of sweetness from sweet potato and butternut squash. And it’s paleo, gluten-free, and whole30 friendly.
I originally created this recipe for a chili cook-off at my friend Alicia’s birthday party last fall, and it was a pretty big hit with the crowd of chili-tasters.
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Can You Make This Smoky Beanless Chili in a Crock Pot or Instant Pot?
And the best part is that it comes together in the crock pot – perfect for a lazy weekend meal that’ll easily feed a family or help you get your freezer meals re-stocked. I just bake the bacon, brown the meat, then chuck all the ingredients in, set the crock pot, and walk away.
If you don’t have a crock pot, you could try making this in your Instant Pot. You’ll only need about 5 minutes of active cooking time on Manual (high) as long as you brown the meat ahead of time. The sweet potato and butternut squash will get quite soft, but it’ll still be delicious. Just release the pressure naturally, and you’re good to go.
Why is This Chili Beanless?
Some people love beans. They’re a good source of fiber, complex carbs, and also have a little bit of protein.
But for others, beans are hard to digest and result in a lot of gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. Beans are considered a high FODMAP food. FODMAPs – an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, And Polyols – are types of carbs that gut bacteria like to feed on, particularly when they can’t be digested by a person.
All of this is to say, avoiding beans (or eating them) is a very individual thing. If you do eat beans, it’s best to make sure they are properly soaked before eating them.
Can You Freeze Chili?
100% yes. In fact, chili is one of my favorite meals to bank in the freezer. Once cooked, this chili will freeze well for up to three months if properly stored.
Some of my other favorite freeze-ahead beef meals:
Smoky Beanless Chili (Paleo, Gluten-Free)
This paleo & gluten-free Smoky Beanless Chili Recipe has smoky bacon, ground beef, and a little bit of sweetness from sweet potato and butternut squash. It's also whole30 friendly.
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 2 lb ground beef grass-fed if possible
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
- 1 sweet onion large, diced
- 2 sweet potatoes medium, peeled and diced (about 1 lb)
- 1 lb butternut squash peeled and diced
- 14 oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes 1 can
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp fish sauce optional
- Black pepper and sea salt to taste
- Green onions sliced, for garnish, optional
The first thing you’ll need to do is cook the bacon. My favorite method is to bake it: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Lay the bacon in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the bacon is just crisp. The exact time will depend on the thickness of your bacon, so watch it carefully because it can burn in a blink. Once the bacon is done, remove it from the tray and chop it. Refrigerate and save for a garnish.
(An optional method is to chop the raw bacon and render it over medium-low heat in a large skillet, then remove the bacon and save for later.)
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, pour the leftover bacon fat from baking the bacon. Add the ground beef, sea salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, and ground chipotle pepper. Stir often while cooking until the beef is cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. While the beef is cooking, I like to prep the onion, sweet potato, and butternut squash.
In your slow cooker, combine the diced onion, sweet potato, and butternut squash. Add the cooked, seasoned ground beef. On top of this, add the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and fish sauce. The fish sauce gives a savory flavor that adds a nice backbone of umami. It’s optional, but I highly recommend it.
Stir all the ingredients until combined, then set the slow cooker to low for 5 to 6 hours. Stir once or twice through the cooking process if you can.
Adjust the seasoning with black pepper and sea salt, then top with sliced green onion. Serve next to a green side salad for a complete meal.
This Smoky Beanless Chili freezes well for up to 3 months.
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