Lots of Beans and Grains Slow Cooker Chili

Lots of Beans and Grains Slow Cooker Chili

Chili is one of my favorite staples. I’m sure it comes as no surprise since it’s a stew and brown – two of my favorites when it comes to slow cooker dinners. Well, maybe some of my favorite foods just happen to be brown…

Of course, it’s great as is or with a sprinkle of vegan chez – but that’s just a blank canvas for you to work with. There’s the classic chili mac that only requires you to boil up some pasta, mix in the chili and add a touch of vegan cheez (if you’d like). You can bake the finished recipe under a layer of cornbread to create the perfect casserole and it’s great in quesadillas or tacos too.

Ads by Healthy Ads

Lots of Beans and Grains Slow Cooker Chili

I always have a few cans of vegan chili in my pantry for the nights that I’m too tired to make dinner. My favorite default dinner is chili chez dip with micro thin tortilla chips. It can cheer me up after a hard day and it goes great with a margarita.

Cans are great for dinner emergencies, but I’d rather grab something homemade from the freezer. The grains in this recipe really mimics the meaty texture that is usually made from some type of  soy. This chili is soy free and as a bonus has no added oil. You can even make it gluten-free by using quinoa or more millet in place of the bulgur.

Lots of Beans and Grains Slow Cooker Chili

Working on my bean book last year I acquired a pantry full of beautiful heirloom jewels. I dug a few out for this chili (alubia blanca, arikara yellow beans, sangre de toro,) but honestly it would taste just as good with navy, pinto and black beans. It can be a inexpensive or fancy as you want it to be. Well – maybe fancy isn’t’ the best word, since (even with my pricey heirlooms) it looks like a plain old bowl of chili!

Lots of Beans and Grains Slow Cooker Chili   


Lots of Beans and Grains Slow Cooker Chili

Serves: 3-4

soy-free, oil-free **Please note this recipe uses a 1½ or 2 quart slow cooker. You can double or triple it and use a larger slow cooker.
  • 2 cups assorted dried beans (any but kidney beans*) I used 3 heirlooms in equal amounts (alubia blanca, arikara yellow beans, sangre de toro)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (15.5 ounce) diced tomatoes or tomato puree
  • ¼ cup bulgur (use quinoa or more millet to make gluten-free)
  • ⅛ cup millet
  • 1 tablespoon dry veggie bouillon (with nutritional yeast or chickeny flavor) or 1 cube
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili spice mix
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle or ancho powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt, to taste
The night before:
  1. Add the beans and water to the slow cooker and cook on low at least 7 or 8 hours.
In the morning:
  1. Carefully drain the beans and rinse them. Then return them to the slow cooker with the fresh water, grains, tomatoes, and all the spices except for the salt.
  2. Cook on low 7 to 10 hours.
  3. Salt to taste before serving.
* Kidney beans need to be boiled 10 minutes before you cook them in the slow cooker due to a toxin they contain.


Lots of Beans and Grains Slow Cooker Chili


  1. says

    My mom made really good chili when I was a kid but she never made it in a cornbready casserole…that sounds so delicious! I need to track down a recipe for that.
    I love your swirly plates…where did you find them?

  2. Travis says

    Kathy, of the heirloom beans you use, which varieties most closely approximates the taste and texture of a pinto bean? I love chili and it’s a regular part of my diet, and I’d like to start growing my own beans, but am having trouble identifying the best heirlooms to grow. I dislike the texture and taste of kidney beans, so I’m trying to avoid any heirlooms with that kind of texture. Thanks for any insight you can give me. :-)

    • Kathy Hester says

      Here are a few that I mention in The Great Vegan Bean Book: Rattlesnake beans, anasazi, appaloosa, borlotti/cranberry, rio zape and vaquero beans.

      I don’t know how hard or easy any of them are to grow, but I’d love to here what you plant and how they do!

  3. LindaH says

    I just made this today for the first time and it was delicious! I used a combination of pinto beans, red beans, and Mayoboba beans because that’s what I had on hand. I didn’t have any bouillon, so just used a tbls of nutritional yeast. I soaked the beans over night and cooked them at pressure for 25 min in my Instant Pot and then followed the recipe for the second cooking using the slow cooker function on the IP for 8 hrs. I’ll definitely be making this again!

Leave a Reply

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

Rate this recipe: