A hearty, comforting meal that you simply dump in the crockpot and go! My vegetarian chili slow cooker recipe is made for busy weeks. Packed full of plant-based protein with black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and corn, it's an instant classic! It's a great vegan option for a tailgate, potluck or any night of the week!
Anytime I see a can of fire-roasted tomatoes in my pantry, my mind goes to this vegetarian chili slow cooker recipe. Of course, I also have to dig to find a can of black beans, a can of kidney beans, and a can of pinto beans to make the full recipe, but if I'm lucky, I can find them and skip a trip to the store. (If you like soup with lots of different types of beans, try my 3 Bean Soup or my 15-Bean Soup with Sausage).
This is a dump and go slow cooker recipe, which is the very best kind of slow cooker recipe. However, you will see instructions for sautéing the onion first--this is optional. If you want to take the time to sauté the onions before you add them to the slow cooker, it results in an extra dimension of flavor. If you don't have time for that, do not worry! Just chop the onions finely, and add them at the same time as the other ingredients (including the olive oil).
Ingredients for Vegetarian Chili in the Slow Cooker
- Olive Oil. Just a small amount of olive oil (1 tablespoon) for sautéing the onion before adding it to the crockpot. If you're going to skip sautéing the onion, you can just add the olive oil directly to the slow cooker.
- Onion. One medium yellow or white (not sweet) onion, finely diced.
- Bell Peppers. Two red bell peppers that have been diced.
- Black Beans. One 15-ounce can of black beans that have been drained and rinsed.
- Kidney Beans. One 15-ounce can of kidney beans that have been drained and rinsed. It can be light or dark red kidney beans, it doesn't matter.
- Pinto Beans. One 15-ounce can of pinto beans that have been drained and rinsed.
- Canned Tomatoes. We need two types of canned tomato products: one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes plus one 15-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. If you can find crushed tomatoes fire-roasted, you can use those, too!
- Corn. One cup of frozen corn, no need to defrost.
- Chili Powder. The same thing we add to lentil tacos makes incredible vegetarian chili slow cooker. We need two tablespoons of chili powder.
- Ground Cumin. We also need two tablespoons of ground cumin.
- Dried Oregano. One teaspoon of dried oregano; Mexican oregano is my first choice, but Greek is fine. If you want to use fresh oregano, use 1 tablespoon of chopped leaves (remove them from the stem).
- Garlic Powder. One teaspoon of garlic powder, plus two teaspoons of salt.
- For serving: additional salt, tortilla chips, grated cheddar (can be vegan cheddar shreds), scallions, cilantro or finely diced raw onion.
How to Make Vegetarian Chili
If you have time to saute the onion in a skillet beforehand, great! If not, skip this step and add the finely diced onions and olive oil with all the other ingredients (in step 3). In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring frequently.
After about for about 8-10 minutes, the onion will soften and the edges will start to turn golden brown. Scrape the onion mixture into the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.
Add all remaining ingredients to the slow cooker: diced bell peppers, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, oregano, two teaspoons of salt and ½ a teaspoon pepper.
Stir the contents of the slow cooker together very well, place the lid on high, and cook on HIGH for 6 hours. The mixture may seem a bit dry at first, but resist the urge to add any liquid, because the bell peppers and corn will add plenty. After 6 hours, remove the lid, stir and taste and add more salt if you think it needs it.
What to Serve with Vegetarian Chili
Anything you like on a standard bowl of chili (like my regular crockpot chili recipe) is great here!
- Chips - Tortilla chips or Frito chips are always welcome on top of chili.
- Cheese - Since this recipe is vegan, I serve this with vegan cheddar shreds.
- Creamy - A dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt for extra creaminess. Also comes in vegan options!
- Veggies - My personal choice for topping this vegetarian chili slow cooker recipe is finely diced onion, cilantro, scallions and a squeeze of lime juice.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 medium red bell peppers, diced
- 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 15-ounce can can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 15-ounce can can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For serving: tortilla chips, grated cheese, scallions
- If you have time to saute the onion, do it. If not, skip this step and add the onion and olive oil directly to the crockpot with the other ingredients in step 3. In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently until it softens and the edges start to turn golden brown.
- Scrape the onion mixture into the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.
- Add all remaining ingredients: diced bell peppers, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Stir the contents of the slow cooker together very well, place the lid on high, and cook on HIGH for 6 hours. The mixture may seem a bit dry, but resist the urge to add any liquid, because the bell peppers and corn will add plenty. We want a thick chili.
After 6 hours, remove the lid, stir and taste and add more salt if you think it needs it.
- Serve garnished with tortilla chips, grated cheese, and scallions (or your choice of chili toppings).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 1230mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 11gSugar: 10gProtein: 16g