Small Dutch oven filled with chili and topped with cilantro

No Bean Chili with Sausage

Chili is one of the things I have missed having switched to a primarily low-carb / ketogenic diet. Even though I eat (or cook with) carbs at least once a week, some things just don’t make the cut anymore. Traditional chili is, unfortunately, one of those things, so I had to be creative. Little did I know that by leaving out beans not only makes it keto (yay!), it also makes it Texas style! Now, I’ve never been to Texas, but I imagine cowboy hats, cowboy boots, saloon doors, and blazing heat. Am I totally wrong? Either way, I like it the way I imagine it, and now all those folks who kick down saloon doors with their cowboys boots like my chili. So I’m sticking with it.

I was already planning on making a keto version of this cold weather classic dish when I was urged to do it, and soon. Our church announced a chili cook off and I decided to try it. I made it once for my husband and we both loved it. I planned to add beans the next time I made it, which would be for the cook-off. However, halfway through the grocery list, I decided to make it the same way we would eat at home, no beans. Long story short – my chili was one of the three winners! And yes, there were more than three entrants.

We had a great turnout at the event with about two dozen chilis for sampling and judging. And my secret ingredient? Italian Sausage, not ground beef. Perfectly seasoned sausage does a great job infusing vegetables with sausage flavors. It is so comforting, flavorful, and delicious on a chilly (pun intended) day. I hope you enjoy it!


I’ve made this chili with mild Italian sausage, with hot, and with a combination of both. Hot sausage is easier to break down into smaller pieces, but other than that – it’s all about your preference.

I have an 8 qt. Instant Pot and it took a little bit of time to figure out its slow cooker option. “Low” is too low, and doesn’t cook anything even over an 8 hour time period . I use “High” only, as it’s the closest setting to “Low” on an actual slow cooker. Confusing, I know. If you aren’t sure about your slow- cooker, just monitor it closely and check every 15 minutes or so. You have already cooked everything, we are just trying to make it juicy and to make sure all the flavors are mixed.

No Bean Chili with Sausage

Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 6


  • Slow cooker


  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 4 Lbs Italian sausage
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, insides removed, cut the same size (roughly) as onions
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped, slightly larger than onions
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 C Tomato sauce

Toppings (optional, but recommended!)

  • Cilantro
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado slices


  • Remove the sausage from its casing.
  • Pre-heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  • Cook the sausage, until no longer pink, in batches.
  • When finished, use a slotted spoon or a spatula to strain the cooked sausage and place in a slow-cooker.
  • In a clean pan, preheat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.
  • Add the onions, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown around the edges and transclucent in the middle, 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, stir, and cook for a few minutes, until aromatic.
  • Add the bell peppers, stir, and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring often, for a few minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and stir well. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, stir, and let simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes. Stir often.
  • Pour the vegetable and tomato sauce mixture over the sausage in the slow cooker, and stir well. It will look somewhat dry.
  • Cook on low for 1 hour or on high for 30 minutes. Refer to Technicalities for more information on times, as they may vary.
  • When finished, stir well and serve with toppings of your choosing. Enjoy!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *