3-Bean Slow Cooker Chili

I really don’t understand the obsession with slow cookers. Yeah, I use mine all the time to cook dried beans, but most main dish recipes either have way too much meat and processed food or just seem like they’d be really unappealing.

Chili is basically my one exception, though. The other day I wanted to see if I could make chili starting with dried beans, and I’m delighted to report that it worked beautifully! I was thrilled.

Ellie was thrilled, too.

Basically, I made a fairly standard chili recipe, but added a few extra cups of water. I started it on high for 2 hours, then turned it to low for 5. Because of the toxins in kidney beans, they need to boil for awhile, so cooking on low the full time is not a great idea, unless you’ve boiled the beans for awhile first.

Now that it’s officially Fall, get out your slow cooker, ditch the canned beans, and make a big pot of chili!


1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chopped chipotle chile en adobo
2/3 cup beer (I used amber ale)
15 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup dried kidney beans
1/2 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried black beans
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 1/2 cups water
shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onions, for garnish

Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the chili powder, cumin, and chipotles, and mix well.

Transfer to a slow cooker, add all remaining ingredients, and stir well.

Cook on high for 2 hours, then turn to low and cook for an additional 5 hours. Taste and add salt or other seasonings if needed.

Serve with shredded cheese and green onions.

15 Responses to “3-Bean Slow Cooker Chili”

  1. 1 maria @ a life to Bragg about September 28, 2011 at 8:50 am

    She’s so stinkin’ cute 😀 And I love that you’re still cooking delicious meals with a newborn!

  2. 3 Lindsey September 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Yum, I’m definitely bookmarking this for the next few weeks when the weather starts to turn. Looks easy but delish!

  3. 4 Kate September 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

    See, I get the slow cooker, but chili always comes together so quickly I rarely use it for that. (especially since I soak the beans during the day when the chili would be slow-cooking)

  4. 5 The Healthy Hostess September 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    She is so adorable! I am so happy for you!! The slow cooker is nice for some winter cozy meals with little time!

  5. 6 Kelsey September 29, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Oh my goodness is Ellie a cutie! I love her little facial expression.

  6. 7 Elizabeth September 30, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Sounds yum, but I’d advise you to boil the kidney beans first to get rid of harmful toxins that can make you seriously ill.

    Though maybe the cooking on High fixes that?


    • 8 Cate September 30, 2011 at 7:03 am

      Elizabeth – Thanks for the info on the kidney bean toxins! I didn’t know about that, but the beans definitely boiled for at least an hour on high. I will put a note in the recipe.

  7. 9 Elizabeth September 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Glad I could be of service! Btw, I already have the beans to make this dish soaking. Can’t wait for dinner tonight!

  8. 10 Dribs October 1, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Do I just throw the beans in after rinsing them or should I soak them? Looking forward to trying this, thanks!

  9. 12 Kelly October 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I made this yesterday and it was fantastic! What could be better than a delicious meal that takes minutes and pennies to make. I love your blog!

  10. 13 David Edwards December 8, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I’m trying this tonight…27 degrees this morning dictates that…:)

  11. 14 David Edwards December 9, 2011 at 6:48 am

    It turned out really well. I added meat and that increased the cook time, but it was very very good. Thanks.

  1. 1 vegetarian chili « daily homemade Trackback on October 28, 2011 at 3:31 am

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