Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
How many chili recipes is too many? The answer is: that’s a trick question, because you can never have enough! This one today is a special treat because it is a Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes. It also has two different kinds of beans and corn added in! You can top it off with your favorite toppings to customize your bowl.
Table of contents
Why Make This Recipe
It’s been a while since I shared a chili recipe with you all. It was a whole year ago that I shared my Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili here. And much longer ago the Picadillo Style Turkey Chili with Quinoa. Then there is one of my all time favorites Turkey Chili with Pintos. Oh, my gosh I almost forgot the Smoky and Sweet Turkey Chili with Maple Syrup! How is that possible, since it is the one I have made more than any others?!
So, in case you are wondering, you definitely can’t have enough chili recipes. In fact last month when I was planning out which vegetarian recipes I would be sharing this month, I was kind of shocked to realize I had never shared a vegetarian chili here on Healthy Seasonal Recipes. How is that possible, since serving veggie chili and cornbread is one of our favorite dinners in the fall and winter?
I quickly put pen to paper and started making a plan on how to make a delicious, healthy and comforting Vegetarian Chili. After about three and a half seconds I knew that I would be wanting to add sweet potatoes. I had fallen in love with sweet potato chili a while back when I made that above mentioned paleo chili. They slowly cook into the chili and add subtle sweetness that goes so well with the spices.
I also knew I would want to be adding in extra veggies, so I included peppers, onions and corn. Plus there are two different beans in it! The results are amazing! I have lots to discuss so read on to find out how this recipe came to be.
Ingredients For This Recipe
Neutral Cooking Oil
You can use whatever neutral cooking oil you prefer. I recommend either avocado oil or organic canola oil because they have a high smoke point and are low in saturated fat and higher in omega 3’s than other oils. (Source)
Garlic and Onion
As with the vast majority of my recipes, we start this chili off with garlic and onion. I like to use sweet onion to maximize that sweet taste to balance the chili’s flavors. Don’t be shy with the garlic either. I added in four cloves! Don’t worry that it will be overpowering because there’s a lot of spice and other flavors, plus it simmers for a long time so the garlic will mellow.
I used classic chili spices for this recipe: chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne. If you are sensitive to spiciness, you can omit the cayenne. Chili powder does have some heat to it, but the majority of the heat comes from the cayenne.
Beer or Vegetable Broth
Beer is somewhat of a secret ingredient. I recommend a mild style beer such as lager or pilsner. IPAs are too strong and bitter in this application. If you don’t drink beer simply use veggie broth instead.
Feel free to use any color of bell pepper. Note that if you use a green bell pepper the color will fade to a dull army green. I like red and yellow for mine, but any would work.
And as I said, this is kind of the star of the show my people! I used one large sweet potato. If you are wondering about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, you can read more about it in my post for Sweet Potato Casserole.
For the best texture and so the veggies cook evenly in the slow cooker, I used a large (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes plus a small (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes. If you can find fire-roasted tomatoes I always recommend them. And in case you were wondering, you can substitute tomato puree for the crushed tomatoes.
Kidney Beans and Black Beans
We tried this chili with two cans of kidney beans, I we liked it better with a combo of black beans and red kidney beans. If you have another type of bean you want to use that is fine! Just make sure to drain and rinse the canned beans to get all the canning liquid off.
At the end of the cooking, I added in frozen sweet corn. It adds more sweetness, and bulks up the serving sizes too.
Here’s where you can go wild. If you are not vegan feel free to use shredded cheese, yogurt or sour cream. We also love scallions, cilantro, toasted pepitas and minced red onions. And of course avocado is always a favorite too!
How To Make Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes
When I first tested this recipe, I just stirred everything into my slow cooker and cooked it for 8 hours. The results were nowhere as good as it is now with the step of sautéing first. I know it seems like a pain to do so, but it makes all the difference!
Sauté The Garlic and Onion
Once you dice the onion and chop the garlic, simply heat the oil in a large skillet (or if you have a multi-function slow cooker, use the sauté mode.) Then add in the garlic and onion and cook it to caramelize them a little bit. You don’t have to worry about softening the onion so much here (it will soften in the slow cooker.) This step is more about trying to brown the onion to develop the flavor.
Bloom The Spices
To bring out the flavors in the spices, add them to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Just make sure to turn the heat down as they will burn easily. Cook them in the oil and veggies to bloom them. Just be ready with your beer because as soon as they start to darken (and they will stick to the skillet too) you’ll want to pour the beer in to stop them from burning. The beer will deglaze the skillet. Scrape up the bottom of the skillet with your spatula to make sure all of the yummy spices release.
Combine Ingredients In The Slow Cooker
Next scrape the onion mixture into the slow cooker. Add in the bell peppers, sweet potatoes and canned tomatoes. Stir everything well and cover the Crockpot.
Slow Cook The Chili
In order to avoid overcooking the corn and beans, cook the chili for seven hours on low. Then add in the corn and beans and cook for one more hour. If for some reason you forget (or if your crockpot only lets you cook for 4 or 8 hour increments) you can stir the corn and beans in at the end and just let them warm through. They are already cooked so they don’t need a full hour. That said, I do like the way that the beans taste after an hour of simmering in the chili!
Ladle the chili into bowls and top with your favorite toppings. We loved it with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and sour cream, but it is just as good with vegan toppings like cilantro, pepitas, minced red onions and avocado. It’s up to you!
Step By Step Photos For This Crockpot Chili Recipe
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili FAQs
Sadly the answer is no. I tried it (twice) and both times the “burn” indicator came on. The reason is that there is not a lot of liquid in the chili when you add it to the slow cooker, and the moisture from the slowly cooked peppers is what thins out the chili as it cooks.
I did try this too, and I had “mixed” results. I would say yes you can, but you have to keep an eye on it because it doesn’t have much liquid in it at first so you need to keep stirring it to keep it from burning. You could always add a bit of broth to help this situation, and then let it reduce to thicken it back up.
In the microwave: heat on high power until the chili is steaming hot. An individual portion will take 2 to 3 minutes. Stir well to make sure it is evenly hot.
On the Stove: heat in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often until it is steaming hot.
This chili freezes beautifully. Since the veggies are already nice and tender, there is no loss of texture. I like to freeze it in individual portions to make easy lunches. I just defrost and reheat them in the microwave. You can also freeze larger portions and thaw them in the fridge for 24 hours before heating.
Absolutely! I love butternut squash in chili! I think butternut squash instead of sweet potato would make a great substitution. Note that the squash will break down a bit more than the sweet potato, but you’ll still be able to notice chunks of it. I would weigh out 6 ounces or about 2 cups cut squash.
I fell in love with white sweet potatoes (also known as Japanese Sweet Potatoes) when I did the Whole30 last September, and I use them all the time now. They are starchier than the red or orange sweet potatoes like I used here in this chili and they are not as sweet. They would work really well so feel free to use one instead of an orange sweet potato.
What To Serve With Veggie Chili
- If you are gluten-free serve with my gluten-free skillet cornbread.
- A classic Garden Salad would be a nice option, or for a vegan salad, you could make my Massaged Kale Salad.
- I love savory muffins. My Parmesan and Leek Savory Muffins would be awesome with this.
- I’ve gotten back into sourdough baking this winter, so we have been enjoying sourdough with this chili too! My friend Sylvie has a lot of good sourdough tips if you are new to sourdough.
- Our Whole-wheat bread is ready in one hour flat and yes it’s yeasted!
Thanks so much for reading! If you make this Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potato, please come back and let me know by leaving a star rating and review!
This slow cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes has peppers, corn and black beans. Top it with your favorite vegan toppings or add cheese or sour cream.
3 tablespoons avocado oil or organic canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium sweet onion, diced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
½ cup beer (mild style such as lager) or vegetable broth
2 bell peppers, diced (any color)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cup frozen sweet corn
Optional toppings: shredded cheese, yogurt or sour cream, scallions, cilantro, toasted pepitas, minced red onions
1. Sauté: Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often until the onion starts to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Bloom Spices: Reduce heat to medium and sprinkle on chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne and stir into onions. Cook, stirring often until the spices are fragrant, about 90 seconds.
3. Deglaze: Pour in beer and remove from the heat.
4. Combine in the Slow Cooker: Combine onion mixture, peppers, sweet potatoes and canned tomatoes in the insert of a large slow cooker. Stir well to combine.
5. Cook: Cover and set for 8 hours on low heat.
6. Add Beans and Corn: When timer has 1 hour remaining stir in kidney beans, black beans and corn.
7. Cook: Continue cooking for the remaining hour.
8. Serve: Ladle into bowls and top with optional topping.
If you have leftovers, transfer to a resealable container and leave loosely covered. Refrigerate until cold, then seal the lid. Can be made up to 4 days ahead.
Reheat individual portions in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir well to prevent hot spots.
Can be frozen up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator for 1 full day before reheating.
Individually frozen portions can be thawed and reheated in the microwave. Break apart the chili as it thaws.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 hours
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 3/4 cups
- Calories: 258 calories
- Sugar: 8 g
- Fat: 7 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g
- Carbohydrates: 40 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 10 g
Keywords: Slow Cooker Chili,Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili, Sweet Potato Chili