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How to Make Chili in a Slow Cooker with Dried Beans & Quinoa – Healthy Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Recipe

A warm, hearty chili is like a bowl of edible comfort. Better yet, it’s one of the EASIEST one pot dinner ideas on the planet—especially if you know how to make chili in a slow cooker or crock pot. Once you’ve got this slow cooker vegetarian chili in the pot, just set it to cook and forget it!

Start it up in the morning before going about your day, and you’ll have a deliciously healthy dinner cooked and ready to serve in the evening. And, your house will be smelling amazing! If you’re feeding a crowd or meal prepping for a family, this slow cooker vegetarian chili is a great option that can serve up to eight people.

Of course, you can make your vegetarian chili with canned beans, or cook your beans separately if you like. But, to make this healthy meal prep dinner even easier, I’m showing you how to make this slow cooker chili with DRIED beans and NO pre-soaking needed!

This recipe does require a bit longer than most slow cooker recipes need to cook—either 8-10 hours on low heat, or 4-6 hours on high heat. Personally, it’s just way more convenient for me to toss everything into the slow cooker at once! The beans still cook through perfectly, and it saves me time in the long run. Plus, I can buy just the dry beans I need in bulk to cut down on the cost!

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Nutritious AND Flavorful Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili – with ALL 9 Essential Amino Acids

Even though this is a totally meatless and VEGAN chili recipe, it’s surprisingly hearty and filling. Between the protein-rich beans, superfood quinoa, and nutritious veggies, you get a satisfying and balanced meal cooked all at once in the same pot! With 15g of protein AND 15g of fiber per serving, it’s a nourishing dinner that you can feel good about serving.

I try to not eat animal protein a few times a week, and this easy vegetarian bean chili is a great way to do that without sacrificing flavor, nutrients, or feeling satisfied! Plus, it’s a vegan and vegetarian dinner option that offers all nine essential amino acids, thanks to the combo of beans and quinoa.

All of those plant-based ingredients also act like flavor sponges, soaking up the irresistibly zesty flavor from the adobo chipotle peppers. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, don’t worry—I’m not either! There’s a bit of heat from the chipotle, but it’s not overwhelming and I think it’s quite tasty.

But, if you’re not a fan of the flavor, feel free to just omit the chipotle peppers. Or, go ahead and make this slow cooker vegetarian chili as spicy as you like if you are a fan of the heat! I like to serve it up with some green onion and yogurt or sour cream, or sometimes sliced avocado. Get creative with your favorite toppings—or even set up a family-style chili buffet bar!

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How to Make Slow Cooker Chili with DRIED Beans and Quinoa

This slow cooker vegetarian chili is just as easy to make as any other slow cooker / crock pot recipe: throw everything in the cooker and let it work its magic! But, with a slightly longer cook time, you can experience the added magic of making slow cooker chili with dried beans and NO pre-soak. Say whaaaat?!

Most people recommend soaking beans before cooking them, whether it’s over the stove or in a slow cooker / crock pot. Luckily, that extra step isn’t necessary when you’re cooking low and slow like this! Add your un-soaked dry beans into this slow cooker vegetarian chili as-is, along with everything else, and they’ll cook through just fine.

Same goes for your dry quinoa—straight into the slow cooker as-is. I love the added bonus that I get some whole grain goodness into my meal without having to fuss with cooking a separate batch of grains!

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Add onion, carrot, garlic, canned tomatoes, dry quinoa, and dried black beans to the slow cooker.

Once all of your vegetarian chili ingredients and seasonings are in the slow cooker, you can pour in your water. Or, for added flavor, you can use half broth and half water!

The important thing here is just to add enough total liquid to the cooker—which is 6 cups for this recipe. Since both dry quinoa and dried beans are going into this slow cooker vegetarian chili recipe, we need a good amount of water that those dry components can soak up as they cook.

Now, all that’s left to do is give it a stir, close up the lid, and let it to cook!

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Add bell peppers, chipotle peppers, and seasonings to slow cooker.
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Pour 6 cups of water (and/or broth) into cooker and stir.

Cook Temperature & Time

I recommend cooking this slow cooker chili for 8-10 hours on low heat, because I find that the low and slow cooking produces better results. Or, you can also cook for 4-6 hours on high heat if you’re in a time crunch—just be sure to check that your beans are tender before cooking finishes.

If your cooker doesn’t have a timed cook function, just set a timer on your oven or phone. And make sure you’re around to turn the cooker off when cooking finishes!

Since my crock pot slow cooker has a ‘warm’ function, it automatically stops cooking when the timer runs out and just keeps the meal warm on a lower temperature. If you’re at work or out and about during the day, it’s a super convenient function to use if your cooker has it!

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Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours, or high heat for 4-6 hours.
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Stir, serve, and enjoy!

Once your slow cooker vegetarian chili finishes cooking, give it a good stir and it’s ready to serve! An awesome recipe for easy weeknight dinners that you can set-and-forget, and then come home to a ready-to-eat meal.

(If you cooked on higher heat or used the lower time in the range, you may need to let your vegetarian chili cook a bit longer if you notice the beans aren’t fully tender yet.)

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Allow slow cooker vegetarian chili to cool before transferring to jars or meal prep containers.

Personally, this slow cooker chili is one of my favorite healthy meal prep dinners because I get my protein, veggies, and healthy carbs all cooked at once. I just get it going at the beginning of my prep day, and I don’t have to worry about it again until it’s finished! After letting it cool for a bit, I can portion it into jars and store for the week.

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Zesty Chipotle Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

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Vegetarian Slow Cooker Chili with Dried Beans and Quinoa

  • Author: Alyssia Sheikh
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8-10 hours
  • Total Time: 8-10 hours
  • Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup carrot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
¾ cup uncooked quinoa
½ lb (~1 cup) dried black beans
½ lb (~1 cup) dried pinto beans
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
6 cups water

Optional Toppings

fresh cilantro, chopped
sour cream/yogurt
lime wedges
avocados
green onion
cheese

Instructions

  • Add all vegetarian chili ingredients to the slow cooker or crock pot. Stir to combine.
  • Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or high heat for 4-6 hours, until the beans are tender.
  • Serve warm with desired toppings and enjoy!
  • Allow to cool before portioning and storing.

Yields ~12 cups slow cooker vegetarian chili or 6-8 total servings, depending on desired serving size.

Notes

If serving 6 people…

Nutrition per 2 cups serving of vegetarian chili:
378 calories | 2g fat | 71g carbs | 20g fiber | 7g sugars | 20g protein

If serving 8 people…

Nutrition provided below per 1½ cups vegetarian chili:

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1½ cups
  • Calories: 284
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Fat: 1g
  • Carbohydrates: 53g
  • Fiber: 15g
  • Protein: 15g
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