Wacky Vegan Cincinnati Chili from Vegan Slow Cooking for Two

Wacky Vegan Cincinnati Chili from Vegan Slow Cooking for Two

Photo by Kate Lewis, Copyrighted by Fair Winds Press

Cincinnati chili is similar to a regular meaty chili except it has unusual spices that you see more in pumpkin pie than an all-American stew. Traditionally it’s a meat chili that has kidney beans as an optional topping as well as shredded cheese and onions – then oddly enough, it’s served over pasta.

This one uses vegan ground and the lentils for the meaty texture. Don’t worry, there’s a gluten-free and a soy-free option! The unusual spices blend in more than you expect, but there are Cincinnati chili lovers and haters. Because of the extra spices, the ingredient list may look intimidating, but most things on the list are a quick measure and you’re done!

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It’s only a few days before my new book, Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just You, comes out. I’ve been getting good feedback about the recipes I’ve posted here on the blog so far. Which dish are you looking forward to making the most?

Here are some of the other stew recipes:

  • Green Beans in Black Bean Sauce with Tofu
  • Potato, Greens, and Soy Curl (or Chickpea) Curry
  • Pear Chickpea Fall Stew:
  • Three Sisters Stew
  • Mother Stallard Bean and Barley Stew
  • Tomatillo and White Bean Chili
  • Heirloom Bean Chili Powered Up with Ancient Grains
  • Potato Cauliflower Curry (Aloo Gobi)
  • Creamy Veggie Curry (Navratan Korma)
  • Yellow Lentil Stew (Dal)

Wacky Vegan Cincinnati Chili

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 3 cups

Serving size: 1 cup

Calories: 181

Fat: 1.9 g

  • morning ingredients:
  • ¾ cup (144 g) dry black beluga lentils (You can sub in other lentils; the chili just won’t be as dark.)
  • 1½ cups (355 ml) water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup (55 g) ground vegan crumbles, either store-bought or Make-Your-Own Gluten Crumbles (page 18) or use ½ cup (87 g) cooked quinoa for soy-free** and gluten-free***
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground hot pepper, such as chipotle
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • Ground hot pepper of choice, to taste, optional
  • evening ingredients:
  • 1½ cups (270 g) diced tomatoes
  • Dash freshly ground nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 to 3 cups (270 to 405 g) cooked pasta, for serving (***use gluten-free)
  • Traditional toppings, all optional: shredded vegan cheese (*omit for oil free), chopped onions, and cooked kidney beans
In the morning:
  1. Add all the morning ingredients to the slow cooker.
  2. Cook for 7 to 9 hours on low.
Thirty minutes before serving:
  1. Add tomatoes and nutmeg, taste, add salt, and adjust other seasonings as needed.
  2. Turn to high and cook 30 minutes more to incorporate the tomatoes into the chili.
  3. Remove bay leaf before serving. Serve over cooked pasta and top with your choice of toppings.
**This recipe uses a smaller slow cooker 1½ to 2 quarts - you can double the recipe and use a 3½ to 4 quart slow cooker



  1. says

    I have your book The Vegan Slowcooker and I love it. My copy has a few stains – from me cooking – and almost all the pages have been turned down because I’ve used so many of your recipes. I guess I will have to pick up this one in the fall – when I really go back to using the slowcooker again.

  2. says

    I keep saying I should use my slow cooker in the summer to keep the kitchen cool! Thank you for giving substitutions as well. I don’t recall ever seeing black lentils but I will be looking for them.

  3. Carrie says

    Being from Louisville, KY and not too far from Cincinnati it’s funny to read ‘oddly served over pasta.’ Up until I was an adult I’d never had chili that wasn’t over pasta. I thought that’s how you were supposed to eat it :)

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