Making chili: is it ok to put raw ground beef in the crock pot with everything else overnight, before cooking?

Till now we've always browned the ground beef first, but tonight my husband decided to save some time. Grease issues aside, I know it's ok to do this if you're going to start the crock pot right away and heat the meat to the specified temperature quickly enough. Could an 8 hour wait in the fridge cause any problems we should have anticipated? My instinct is to always keep raw meat separated from other foodstuffs till right before cooking or baking it, but it'd be interesting to learn if that's an unnecessary rule!

J. Stratton


Susan W. May 15, 2016
Since you are refrigerating the whole thing, there's no danger. The reason you brown ground beef before continuing with the recipe is to develop flavor and so that you can remove the excess grease. Basically, you will be stewing the meat. This method works with stew meat because it's usually somewhat lean.

I'm very curious how this will taste, so be sure to report back. I've noticed there isn't much of a difference in flavor (if any) when I brown or don't brown the beef for beef stew in the slow cooker. My theory is that it cooks for such a long time, the flavor developers further either way.
J. S. June 10, 2016
Hi Susan, sorry for the delay, and thank you for the advice. I'm glad to know (and so is my husband) that doing things this way isn't a health risk.

In my opinion, skipping the browning step didn't really affect the flavor. I did notice the dish was a tiny bit greasier, which made it feel slightly less palatable. I might be biased, though - my husband made goulash a couple months before that with very fatty meat which he did not trim, and that dish was so greasy you could have floated on it! I tend not to object to fat in things like steak or chops, but am learning that greasy stews are just not for me!
BerryBaby May 15, 2016
Re-thinking about it when I make Beef Stew everything goes in at once, beef, vegetables spices. It always turns out so it should be fine.
J. S. May 15, 2016
Yeah, same here, with the beef stew! It's the sitting together for 8 hours in the fridge part I'm more concerned about. Just hadn't learned whether it's ok to store raw beef mixed with other ingredients. My mom was a bit of a stickler, so growing up I never even considered putting them together like that unless they were going straight on the stove/oven.
BerryBaby May 15, 2016
All the recipes in my slow cooker cookbook say to brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker By doing so, you are making it sear in the flavor of the meat. Plus, this gets rid of unwanted fat that would be sitting on top of the chili.
J. S. May 15, 2016
Yeah, I was aware of the grease problem and flavor issue. What I really want to know is whether putting raw ground beef in the same dish with vegetables and other things for 8 hours before cooking will cause any problems.
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