Vegan Slow Cooker Chili! With beans and sweet potatoes, it's easy, hearty, and big on flavour. Throw everything into your slow cooker and let it do all of the work!
The beauty of a good slow cooker meal is that it pretty much cooks itself, and that is certainly the case with this Vegan Slow Cooker Chili.
Throw all of the ingredients in and let it do its stuff while you go off and do yours. You'll come back to a thick and hearty chili that's big on flavour, healthy, easy, and makes the best leftovers! Bonus points for being protein and fiber-packed, virtually fat-free, and low in calories too.
In this post - Everything you need to make Slow Cooker Vegan Chili:
Here is what you need to make this naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan Slow Cooker Chili:
And a few ingredient notes:
- Beans - You can use soaked dried beans or fully cooked/canned beans. Any combination of beans such as pinto beans, garbanzo beans /chickpeas, navy beans, black eyes beans, or black beans but for food safety reasons do NOT use dried or soaked kidney beans. This is really important. See the FAQs for more details regarding this if you're curious. Canned kidney beans are fine to use.
- Chili powder - This should be American-style chili powder. If you are in the UK/Europe be sure to check the recipe notes. Your chili powder is not the same!
- Tomatoes - These should be crushed tomatoes for the best sauciness. Passata works well too. You could also use tomato sauce but you will need to adjust the seasonings to compensate.
- Cocoa - We are using it as a seasoning and not for chocolate flavour. It might sound odd but it adds depth and richness to your chili. (You can use cacao or a square of dark chocolate instead). Trust me. It tastes amazing and a little makes a HUGE difference!
- Sugar - This is also being used as a seasoning. It balances the flavours and enhances the taste of all the other ingredients.
- Dried herbs - You can use a dried herb mix like Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence, or herbs like thyme, rosemary, and oregano ( a combination or just one).
Feel free to also throw in any random vegetables that need to be used up. Just be sure to only add veggies that will tolerate a lot of cooking at the beginning of the cooking time. Quick-cooking veggies like mushrooms, peas, corn, etc should be added in the last 15 to 20 minutes of cook time.
How To Make Vegan Slow Cooker Chili
No detailed instructions are required for this vegan chili recipe. Just throw it all in and turn the crockpot/slow cooker on! If you want to you can saute the onions and garlic first before adding, but I never do.
A big bowl and a spoon are all that is required, but can we all agree that toppings on chili are everything?
Some of my faves:
- Vegan cheese (I LOVE my feta crumbled on this but most others such as vegan parmesan or cheddar work well)
- Thinly sliced green or red onions
- Vegan sour cream
- Sliced jalapenos
- Crumbled tortilla chips
- Lime juice
As for sides, rice, vegan sweet potato biscuits, tortilla chips, cornbread, baked potatoes, a simple green salad, and crusty bread are great. Chunks of warm, herby, no-knead focaccia are amazing with it!
This recipe makes a lot so is great for hungry families, and it reheats and freezes brilliantly. The leftovers actually get better and more flavourful!
For storage seal leftover chili up in an airtight container and keep it for 4 to 5 days in the fridge or for 3 months in the freezer. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat in a pan on the stovetop or in a microwave.
Dried kidney beans contain high levels of phytohemagglutinin (PHA) which is a toxin that can cause severe food poisoning. Soaking and then boiling them for a sufficient time eliminates this toxin, but temperatures in slow cookers generally do not exceed 185 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not a high enough temperature to eliminate it, and may also trigger a five-fold increase in toxicity. According to the FDA's Bad Bug Book, kidney beans should be soaked in water for at least 5 hours, the water poured away, and the beans boiled in fresh water for at least 30 minutes before use.
Yes (as long as they aren't kidney beans), but increase the water by 1 cup (240ml). They will take slightly longer to cook than soaked beans.
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
Three Bean Sweet Potato ChiliAuthor:
- 1½ cups (300 grams) dried beans , OR 3 x 14-16oz cans of beans (about 4½ cups). DO NOT use dried kidney beans in this recipe.
- 1 x 28oz (796 ml) can crushed tomatoes , (about 3 cups)
- 1 large onion , chopped finely
- 1 large sweet potato , peeled and cubed
- 4 large cloves garlic , minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Italian mixed herbs , or a teaspoon each of thyme, rosemary and oregano (or similar)
- 1 to 2 teaspoon dried red chilli pepper flakes , adjust to your spice tolerance
- 3 tablespoons chili powder , (American style - see notes if using UK/European chili powder)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder , or 2 squares of good quality dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups (480 mls) water , reduce to 1 cup (240mls) if using canned/fully cooked beans.
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- If using dried beans soak them overnight before proceeding.
- Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker (mine is 6 quarts) and stir them together well.
- If using soaked dried beans, set the slow cooker to low and cook for about 8 hours or high for about 4 to 5 hours. If using canned/fully cooked beans set to low and cook for 5 to 6 hours or high for about 3½ to 4 hours.
- Check the beans are cooked through and tender before serving.
- If at any time it gets too thick add a little boiling water from a kettle to thin as desired.
Elena B says
I don’t have a slow cooker but the recipe sounds delicious. Can I make it in a regular pot. Thank you in advance. Elena B
Melanie McDonald says
Yes you can but you will need to start with homecooked or canned beans and not dry ones. Saute the onions and garlic in a little oil in a large pan, then add everything else, bring to a simmer and cook at a really gentle simmer for about an hour (or a few hours on really low) until nice and thick and rich, or cover and pop in the oven at about 350f for 60 to 90 mins, or even longer at a slightly lower temp. It's a really forgiving recipe that can be left bubbling away for hours and just gets better and better!
This sounds wonderful, but my husband does not like sweet potatoes. Is it possible to substitute with regular potato, or maybe pasta?
Melanie McDonald says
It would still be great without the sweet potatoes. You can safely omit them, or add in a couple of cups of any other veggie instead. Squash, potatoes, carrots, zucchini or bell peppers could all be added at the beginning of cooking time and you could add some mushrooms in the last 30 to 45 minutes. I wouldn't add pasta as it will absorb too much liquid while cooking and get mushy. Hope that helps!
Have been making this for years. Love the spices. It's one of the most comforting foods EVER.
A Virtual Vegan says
Just a standard mixed herb mix in a jar from the grocery store. They tend to all sell one called mixed herbs. Italian mixed herbs or mixed Herbs de Provence would be ok too. Hope that helps!
This is my first ever comment on a recipe online! I downloaded this recipe a couple of years ago and have made it again and again.I have sometimes put guacamole as a topping to add colour and as a nice balance to the chilli. I usually precook my beans but then throw everything in the slow cooker. It is a really great chilli - the chocolate is the secret!
A Virtual Vegan says
I'm really pleased you are enjoyed the recipe Margot and thank you for taking the time to rate it/leave feedback!
HI there. I would like to try this recipe as it looks tasty! What do you have on the top of it? Thanks!
A Virtual Vegan says
On top is some cashew "sour cream". Just 1/2 a cup of raw cashews blended with enough water to make a thick cream, usually about 1/4 of a cup, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, plus some salt to taste. It will keep for around a week in the fridge but will thicken as it sits. Just add a little water to loosen it up again. Enjoy!
So good! I love chili and I love sweet potatoes, so combining them is perfection :)!
This chili was a big hit for me and my partner. He was iffy about vegan noms, but It's very hearty and filling. The only thing I would do differently would be to add corn next time. YUM!
Alison Young says
We had this tonight for dinner and we loved it. The slow cooking is a brilliant idea; I put it together after lunch and it cooked happily away all day, so there was very little effort required. The texture of the sweet potato was divine. This is a very easy, tasty meal. Thank you!