The 6 Most Binge-Worthy True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen To
These podcasts will have you on the edge of your seat—and jumping at the chance to hear more.
According to a YouGov poll conducted in September, 1 in 3 Americans consume true crime at least once a week, while 1 in 4 people consume true crime multiple times a week. For 17 percent of those people, their favorite way to catch up on real-life crime stories is through podcasts. When music doesn't cut it, podcasts are a great option to listen to on a walk with your dog or while driving to work—and for fans who want to combine their love of true crime and podcasts, there's no shortage of options to tune into. There are, however, certain series that we consider the most "binge-worthy" of them all. Read on to discover six true crime podcasts you won't be able to stop listening to.
Easily one of the most well-known and popular true crime podcasts, Crime Junkie has acquired quite the fan base since it launched in 2017. Hosted by Ashley Flowers, founder and CEO, and her co-host and best friend, Brit Prawat, Crime Junkie has over 500 million downloads, according to its website.
"I love the way each story is told and how it unfolds for us listeners. I find myself listening to episode after episode," an Apple Podcasts review reads, per Chartable. "Ashley really knows how to hook you in and Brit is an amazing addition!"
Another listener even dubbed the podcast binge-worthy in their review. "It's an addiction at this point if i'm being honest, i listen to at least 2-3 episodes a day if not more lol," they wrote.
Stories include infamous cases such as Lacey Peterson and Meredith Kercher, as well as other cases that didn't receive as much media attention when the crimes were first committed. Some reviews are critical in light of previous plagiarism accusations, while others note that the style has changed a bit over the years.
But there have also been some positive developments, including more calls to action (which was a major topic in a recent episode on the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard). One reviewer said that the content makes them look forward to cleaning, just so they can get their fix.
Loyal "Crime Junkies," as listeners are called, can stream new episodes every Monday on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Pandora, and Google Podcasts. You may find that once you start listening—and work your way through the catalog of older episodes—that you can't get enough. If that's the case, you can also sign up for the podcast's fan club, which gives you access to exclusive content, depending on the membership tier you purchase.
Everyone loves an oldie but a goodie—and in the realm of true crime podcasts, Serial was a trailblazer. The podcast is often credited for popularizing true crime and podcasts in general, as The Guardian notes that it was the first podcast "to go mega-viral." Just four weeks after its release in 2014, it had over 1 million downloads per episode.
The podcast was a spinoff of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig, and focused on one story per season (rather than one per episode). Over a course of 12 installments, Koenig told the story behind the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the case built against her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed.
If you're unfamiliar with the Syed case, you'll have to give the first season a listen, and definitely wait to Google any recent updates. You'll get an understanding of why the podcast became so popular—and so hotly debated. You can even listen to Crime Junkie's summary of events in their episode, or tune into HBO's 2019 documentary The Case Against Adnan Syed.
Subsequent seasons of Serial are binge-worthy as well, focusing on the imprisonment of army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban and the criminal justice system in Cleveland. The podcast earned itself a 4.7-star rating out of 5 from critics on Great Pods, and listeners praise the quality of its content.
"From the first day of Serial's release, it stood out. Like, really stood out," one review reads. "Serial is at its best with the way it explains, summarizes, and most importantly, adds all these people's stories into one another. In the end, Serial covers some hard, harsh topics. But that's precisely why it's so important to listen to it. The experiences Koenig covers are things that the majority of people reading this will never experience."
Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of Serial can be streamed on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Pandora.
Dirty John is one of those true crime podcasts that will truly get under your skin. Whether that's in a good way or a bad way will depend on the listener.
Six episodes were published by the Los Angeles Times in 2017, alongside a six-part article series, narrated and written by journalist Christopher Goffard. The story of the real-life "Dirty John," John Meehan, is masterfully told by Goffard— and you won't be able to turn it off until you find out the resolution.
The podcast eventually weaves "a web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival," according to the description on Spotify, which is truly just the tip of the iceberg. The story was so juicy (and had such a shocking plot twist) it was even made into a Bravo series starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana, now streaming on Netflix.
"Couldn't stop, I was listening all night, love the music too," a review on Apple Podcasts reads, with another adding, "This podcast is excellent. You really get a sense for how scary John was. Easy to binge and lose track of time."
You can listen to Dirty John on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, Spotify, and Stitcher, among other platforms.
Sistas Who Kill
Another best friend duo taking on the podcast world is MaRah and Taz, who have rave reviews from listeners. The pair research and tell stories about Black women who kill, sharing perspective on the criminal justice system as a whole. "They discuss the crimes, the outcomes, and how Black women are treated differently in the justice system than their white counterparts," the podcast's Spotify bio reads.
MaRah and Taz are master storytellers, and several Apple Podcast reviews say that Sista Who Kill is seriously binge-worthy and "must be tuned into." Another reviewer conceded that that they're picky about podcasts, but Sistas Who Kill is the exception. It has a whopping 4.9-star rating on the platform, and what will really draw you in is that these are stories you haven't heard before. That's what makes it so compelling—and important.
"I love this podcast because they tell stories that I've mostly never heard before about black women and we NEED our stories told," a review reads, while another adds, "absolutely love this, i've been looking for true crime that talked about black killers and came across this. be feeling like i'm gossiping w some friends."
Binge all you want on Audible, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, or Spotify.
Another brainchild of Flowers and her media company, audiochuck, The Deck is a true crime podcast that's ready to "deal you in." What makes this podcast unique (and different from Crime Junkie) is that the episodes are based on playing cards.
But these aren't just any playing cards—these have the faces of missing and murdered people whose cases are unsolved. Decks are handed out at state prisons and local law enforcement agencies with the hope that someone will eventually recognize a face and share information about "the coldest of cases."
Episodes tells a different story from each playing card, released on Wednesdays on all of the same platforms as Crime Junkie. What makes The Deck extra binge-worthy and compelling, however, is the integration of investigators and victims' family members, all of whom are working to put the pieces of these crimes together to hopefully bring about justice.
"I actually stopped listening to true crime after self-reflection [and realizing] how disgusting it was for me to be listening to people's pain and trauma for my entertainment," Ryan tells Best Life. "But I don't feel that way when I listen to The Deck or Crime Junkies, because Ashley Flowers is not creating entertainment, she is helping the families of those who are lost."
Ryan also mentions Flowers' nonprofit organization, Season of Justice (SOJ), which was created to provide law enforcement with funding to solve cold cases. "As reported on her podcast, the information from tips that have come in through the use of that podcast has been able to solve some cases," Ryan says.
For more true crime content delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
My Favorite Murder
Rounding out this list is My Favorite Murder, which fans say is the epitome of "binge-worthy." Hosted by comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the podcast dates back to 2016 and has since become more and more popular.
As of 2020, My Favorite Murder was getting 35 million downloads per month, according to Forbes. Kilgariff and Hardstark's book, Star Sexy Don't Get Murdered, even ended up at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and the pair's live shows are always quick to sell out.
Because both Kilgariff and Hardstark are comedians, the podcast blends true crime and humor. For devoted listeners, called "Murderinos," this banter is addicting, but for others, the fact-checking leaves a bit to be desired. Regardless of differing opinions on tone, My Favorite Murder caused a splash—and with hundreds of episodes and "minisodes," there's plenty of content to binge and even re-listen to.
"One of my favorite podcasts," a review on Apple Podcasts reads, per Chartable. "Always love hearing from these 2 ladies and am always happy to go back to old episodes and relisten."
Some OG listeners note complaints about content quality since the podcast was acquired by Amazon Music and Wondery in January, but that's all the more reason to start from the beginning and see what the fuss is about!