Hearty Slow-Cooker Bulgur Chili

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!)

Print Recipe

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.

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes


  • 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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7 Responses to “Hearty Slow-Cooker Bulgur Chili”

  1. Rachel @ Bakerita posted on May 8, 2012 at 1:34 am

    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. Chinchu posted on June 15, 2012 at 2:08 am

    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 ;) My husband and I are also a carnie-veggie couple, me being the carnie :D so finding ur website was a yippee moment for me. Keep up the great work!

  4. Sarah Diligenti posted on January 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    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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