Hearty Slow-Cooker Bulgur Chili

Chewy, hearty bulgur serves as a terrific meat substitute in this warm, comforting vegetarian chili that's made all the more robust with some good solid glugs of strong coffee.

Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

This week, I’m all about coffee. What does coffee have to do with chili, you ask – and especially bulgur chili (and what the heck is bulgur, anyway)?

Well, I’ll tell ya. This warm, comforting chili is made all the more robust with some good solid glugs of nice, strong coffee. The addition of coffee, along with a little brown sugar and a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa, makes this chili indecently delicious.

Bulgur is an ancient Middle Eastern grain made from wheat berries. It’s high in fiber, decently high in protein, and is fairly low on the glycemic index, which makes it a great power food. It also serves as a terrific meat substitute in chili, adding a hearty texture and nice bite to every spoonful.

Another uncommon chili ingredient found in this recipe is white button mushrooms. I love the earthiness they add to the dish.

And, of course, it’s a slow cooker recipe, so the real beauty is in the fact that you can just dump it all in the Crock Pot, walk away for 8 hours, and return to a perfect, simmering dinner sitting on your counter.

(More coffee recipes coming later this week!)

Hearty Slow-Cooker Bulgur Chili

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

Chewy, hearty bulgur serves as a terrific meat substitute in this warm, comforting vegetarian chili that's made all the more robust with some good solid glugs of strong coffee.


  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • Bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • A few turns fresh ground black pepper


  1. Place the bulgur in a medium bowl and pour two cups boiling water over the top. Let soak for 15 minutes, then drain and squeeze the bulgur dry.
  2. Add the bulgur along with all of the other ingredients to your slow cooker/Crock Pot. Stir. Cook on low for 8 hours and add additional salt and black pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf and serve with your favorite chili toppings. We like it topped with shredded sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and a little cilantro.

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Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.

15 Responses to “Hearty Slow-Cooker Bulgur Chili”

  1. This looks so good! I love chili, and this is a great vegan alternative for when when we need a meat break. Delicious!

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  3. Boy O boy! What do we have here. It looks so so so amazing! Of course it’s a wacko combination so I simply have to try it ๐Ÿ˜‰ My husband and I are also a carnie-veggie couple, me being the carnie ๐Ÿ˜€ so finding ur website was a yippee moment for me. Keep up the great work!

  4. Wonderful. Just made it today, with dried beans I had soaked overnight. Great taste. Am going to try more of your recipes.

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  8. I want to make this for my family and would like to skip the coffee…how will this affect the final chili?

    • Coffee adds a wonderful warmth and depth but the chili should still be delicious without it! You may want to sub in some vegetable broth or even water so you have an equal amount of moisture.

  9. I’ve never cooked with bulgar wheat before. Can I be lazy and skip the soaking/squeezing first step and just throw everything right into the crockpot?

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  11. Do you recommend sweetened or unsweetened cocoa powder? Thank you, this looks like a great recipe and can’t wait to make it!

  12. This was so delicious, that we’re making it again! This time we’re adding in a lot of spicy peppers and skipping the bell pepper and mushrooms. Can’t wait ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Loved the recipe, however the onions did not cook theough even though i had the chili on high for over 8 hours. At the end they were still crunchy?What am I doing wrong ? Also next timeI may just add the dry bulgur without soaking ahead of time, as it was too runny for my taste

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